On December 7, 2013, the Red River church plant enjoyed their first Sabbath services in their own building located at 3000 Elm Street in Fargo, North Dakota. A dwindling Methodist congregation sold the property at a reasonable price because they desired the church to remain on the 2.5-acre parcel instead of it being demolished and the area turned into a subdivision.

The Methodist congregation graciously left everything in the church—from the pastor’s desk to the dishes in the kitchen. They even left a nearly new riding lawn mower and a weed eater for maintaining the grounds.

Pastor Jordan Peck, with his wife Natalie, started the church plant in the northern area of Fargo in 2010 with a “membership” of three meeting in a storefront. Within a year attendance had grown to 12. By 2012, with a group of 31 attending, they rented a small Lutheran church located in a residential area. Many Sabbath afternoons were spent visiting neighbors around the church and inviting them to Bible studies, meetings and worship services.

In May 2013 Pastor Christian and Angela Ronalds replaced Pastor Jordan and Natalie Peck. As the pews continued filling to an attendance approaching 50, the search for a permanent church began.

“We were so excited the first thing we did was clean the building,” said one member. “We were a little over eager—we cleaned it before the workers came in.” Heating units had to be installed, old ductwork removed and vents blocked. “We had to clean it again,” the member said with a smile. “I think we cleaned it three times.”

The heat wasn’t turned on until the afternoon of Dec. 3. The group was beginning to worry that they might not be ready for Sabbath, but the Lord worked many miracles and everything happened as needed.

During their first worship service Cherie Williams led the singing, Eden Sang called for the offering, Jacquie Biloff told the children’s story and Scott Nelson offered prayer. Courtney Simpson and Casey Knudson sang “Labor of Love” and Elder Neil Biloff, Dakota Conference president, presented the message “Welcome Home.”

The fellowship meal was followed by an evening concert of celebration.

Jacquie Biloff is communication director for the Dakota Conference.