Ever since the Fayette Bible Church closed about five years ago, it bothered Karen King to see the building unused.
Every time she rode past on her bicycle along Maple Street, she would say a little prayer: “Lord, bring someone along to make it a nice church.”
In April, her prayer was answered, but the result came as a surprise. The person who would make it a nice church was the same person who passed by on the bicycle.
She said that she once saw in her mind Jesus blowing breath into the church—an exciting vision suggesting action on the horizon—but then she later saw Jesus handing the church to her.
No, no, that wasn’t what she had in mind.
“So here I am,” she said, sitting in the back of her new church building. “It’s a total step of faith, but I’m enjoying it.”
A United Brethren Church was built on the property in the 1800s, but that original structure burned. A new church was constructed in the 1920s.
In the 1960s, after the U.B. church closed, the Bird Lake Wesleyan Missionary Church bought the property, and Karen’s first involvement soon followed. Her mother was a charter member of the church, and Karen and her husband both served as pastors at the church in the early 1970s.
In the early 1980s, Karen’s father and her brother, Kary Snider, put their carpentry skills to use in helping to construct the existing sanctuary to the south of the original building. That included a church office and basement classrooms. The old church was used for youth activities.
After the church closed in 2007, the Bird Lake church tried to sell the Fayette property, with the hopes of it remaining a church.
Karen fulfilled that wish, but after she made the down payment, she asked herself, “How do I start a church?”
An internet search led her to a web site known as StartCHURCH, a company that has led her through the entire process, including many facets of the process that she never would have thought about.
Her New Beginnings Ministries is now incorporated with the state and has bylaws, a constitution and a board of directors in place. Many weeks have been devoted to cleaning and repairs after five years of no use, but Karen has finally been able to turn her focus on the ministry.
She will use her degrees in Christian counseling and in the ministry to lead a new congregation.
“Anyone who doesn’t have a church is welcome,” she said.
She and others have met at the church for informal Sunday meetings, and she’s now taking that a step further by scheduling 10:30 a.m. services on Sunday morning.
“They are not going to be formally organized at this time,” she said, “but will be a time of worship, prayer, sharing and scripture.”
Karen no longer passes by the church and wishes for some life inside. More often than not, her bicycle stops outside the door.