Lakeville church changes its name, moves into new building
One Lakeville church thought moving into a new building was the perfect time to give itself new name.
The former Bethlehem Lutheran Church had been meeting at Lakeville North High School for nearly two years until it held its first worship service July 19 at a new site just down the hill from the high school at 19400 Ipava Ave.
NorthCross, which is part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, will hold an official opening celebration Sunday, Oct. 13, with activities, tours, food and more before and after its services at 9 and 10:30 a.m.
The Rev. Ben Blumer, who has been the congregation’s lead pastor since 2003, took some time out recently to answer some questions about the name change and the move into the church building. Following are his responses.
When did the idea for the name change first start to be considered?
The idea for a name change first began in 2017 as leadership at Bethlehem began to see that people were confused with there being two Bethlehem’s in Lakeville. What also contributed to the confusion was that Bethlehem Baptist worshipped in Lakeville South High School. Bethlehem Lutheran was in Lakeville North High School. And … both Bethlehem’s were in the midst of building a new building. We also learned there are nearly 50 churches with Bethlehem in Minnesota alone. As we were building this new church, the opportunity was ripe for considering a new name.
What kinds of discussions were involved in the process?
The discussions began on a church council level. We first needed to decide whether this was big enough of an issue to bring up as congregational challenge. After that was established, we formed a committee that included different people from different backgrounds and different age groups. We wanted it to be a diverse group of people so we could hopefully capture the thoughts and opinions of the entire congregation through this committee.
Why was the new name selected? What did people like about the name?
We wanted a name that both captured both the love that we have for the place we live and our Savior, Jesus. We also wanted to choose a name that could be used in more than one town or city as becoming a multi-site church is something that might be in our future. The team and the congregation felt that NorthCross fit those objectives. Minnesota is positioned in the North part of the country. The cross is the most recognizable symbol of Jesus that we have. We are passionate about bringing the message of Jesus to the people and the communities of the North.
What has been the reaction since the name was changed?
It can be a challenging thing to change the name of a church after being in existence for 40 years. However, the name has been received really well by the people of our congregation and … we have found that it has given us a very clear identity among the people of our Dakota County community.
The name change coincides with the building project. What has the process been like to open the new building? How do you feel about the response to the capital campaign?
It has been a long road to the opening of the new building. We first started looking for land back in 2010 as we saw the opportunity that we’d have in the growing city of Lakeville. Over the years there has been a lot of prayers, a lot of work, and a lot of sacrifices from everyone as we’ve worked together to go after this goal. One of the amazing blessings that came along the way was an opportunity to work with two other churches in the Lakeville area as we all had new building needs. A church called Valley Lutheran was looking for a smaller building. Another church, Southland Lutheran was looking for larger one. We were looking to sell our building and move. The stars aligned (or God put his work in motion) and we all created the move. For two years, we worshipped in Lakeville North as we waited for the right time to build. It was an amazing experience and taught the people of NorthCross that a church is not a building but that church is people. All along the way, the people of NorthCross have responded tremendously. We have a strong desire to make a difference in the communities that we live. We believe that NorthCross is a church that can make a difference. We officially changed from Bethlehem to NorthCross when the new building opened.
How do you feel about the new space? What are some highlights? What will the space allow you to do to better serve the community?
• Large gathering area designed with lots of windows and natural light. We believe that one of the important purposes of a church is to provide a place where people can grow in relationships. The gathering space was designed with that in mind.
• Seating for 380 with room to grow.
• Children’s Ministry area that has unique design features to inspire kids and allow them to enjoy their time at church.
• Senior Housing next door that we will be working to partner with and be a blessing to the seniors who live there.
• An opportunity to partner with Lakeville North High School as it is literally in our backyard.
What have the first few services been like? What has been the reaction of congregants?
Not only has the building been really well received from a design perspective but the experience that is happening with more people connecting is very special. Some have mentioned that it feels like home and each week more and more people are attending.
What’s next for the church?
Making an Impact in Lakeville and throughout Dakota County (and beyond as we have members come from Mankato, Lake City and beyond!). Being a place where people will receive encouragement and direction for their lives. We’ve talked about having other campuses across the Twin Cities.