By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN “I felt called by the Lord to start it, but my first thought was ‘absolutely not,’” said Steve Nelson of Dassel about the new church he, along with Tom Sovereign and Bill Marschall, started in Stockholm Township.
Despite his reservations, Nelson wrote down the vision for the church God was calling him to build, which was to help each believer mature in Christ, and expand the kingdom of God.
“I didn’t want to take it lightly,” Nelson said about his calling.
Obeying God’s calling
When Nelson received the calling, he was serving as the youth minister at Berean Baptist Church in Glencoe.
Nelson has been a youth pastor for 16 years, and has a one-year degree from Moody Bible Institute. He is currently studying through Ames International School of Ministry.
Although he grew up in the Baptist church, Nelson said he did not have personal faith until he was about 20 years old.
“I accepted Jesus as my Saviour when I was 13, but he became my God when I was 19,” Nelson said.
After receiving his vision, Nelson spoke to Sovereign, his father-in-law, about the Lord calling him in a different direction.
Sovereign, who has been attending First Baptist Church in Cokato for about 10 years, has also been involved in street ministry and volunteered time speaking in various nursing homes for more than 30 years.
He also shares the gospel and good news of God at campgrounds, at prisons, and as a guest speaker at other churches, he said.
“It’s so interesting when really established churches have us out to conduct a whole service,” Sovereign said, noting he is always humbled when he is invited to speak somewhere. “There is no agenda here, just to share the gospel.”
Nelson told Sovereign he knew there were families in the community who were not connected to fellowship, or may be in-between churches.
Nelson and Sovereign then talked to Marschall, who shares the message of reconciliation through his ministry.
Marschall began attending New Life Assembly of God in Cokato in 1991, and is currently a licensed minister through Assembly of God Church.
Nelson and Sovereign were familiar with Marschall because of the work they have done together leading worship service at Cokato Lake Campground during the summer months.
Reconciliation ministry puts the possibility back into mending relationships with oneself, others, and God, so people can let go and let God work through them, Marschall said.
“It’s identifying the inner turmoil, which brings disempowering thoughts and feelings, that people need to let go of, or pay the price in their life experiences,” Marschall said.
For more than a year, Nelson, Sovereign, and Marschall worked to turn Nelson’s vision into a reality.
“It’s neat working with these guys, and how we all work together,” Sovereign said. “We have a guy with a vision, a guy with a message, and my part is to help tie it all together.”
Nelson also met with local church leaders to pray and clarify his vision as it related to how best to serve the community.
“I got a lot of good feedback and counseling,” he said. “There are a lot of good churches in the community, but when the Lord calls you to something you have to do it.”
It is the hope of Freedom Church’s leaders that they will be a blessing to area churches, as well as serve them, Nelson added.
For instance, Nelson is scheduled to speak to the youth at Crossroads Community Church.
“We definitely want to have a kingdom mentality,” Nelson said.
Each of the men plays a different role in the church, and take turns leading Sunday worship services.
Nelson’s heart has always been towards evangelism, he said. He will specialize in family and young adult ministry.
Marschall brings his message of reconciliation to the church and its worshipers.
“I help people to let go of hurt feelings so they can experience freedom in Christ,” he said.
Sovereign has taken a more administrative role, making sure the church starts off on the right foot, as well as serving as church elder.
The men’s families are also involved with the leadership in the church, with Sovereign’s wife, Shari, serving as secretary; and Marschall’s wife, Michelle, serving as bookkeeper.
Everyone working with the church is doing so on a volunteer basis, and church offereings pay rent for the building and buy materials, such as Bibles and hymnals.
If the church has any excess funds, they are given to local charities.
“All people are welcome, no matter their background or previous dispensations,” Nelson said.
“We are not about denominations and divisions,” Sovereign added.
“We’re about loving people,” Marschall said.
The church is a low-key environment, and the men invite others to come experience worship with them.
“It’s a people’s church. It exists for no other reason than to help them,” Sovereign said.
Freedom Church service
Freedom Church began holding Sunday services in October at the Stockholm Community Center, located on Wright County Road 30. Services are at 11 a.m. each Sunday, after which is fellowship over coffee and snacks or a potluck meal.
Freedom Church also has a young adult group which meets a couple of times each month. For more information, check the church’s website at www.freedom2church.weebly.com.