More than 158 years after the dedication of its first building – a 20-by-26 ft. log structure heated with a wood stove and lighted by kerosene lamps – Oakwood Community Church dedicated its newest building to the Lord on Nov. 22.
The modern 17,000 sq. ft. building, located just east of Waconia on County Road 10 and Klein Drive, offers a blend of space for Christian worship and education. It features a sanctuary that seats more than 290 people, spacious classrooms for educating adults, youth and children, and ample administrative space with offices and work stations for staff and volunteers.
Oakwood had been meeting for 15 years in the auditorium at Waconia High School. This new facility, which opened in October, better equips the church for ministering to the spiritual and physical needs of folks all over Carver County, and it enables further outreach to the community.
“The new building puts a face to a name,” said Morgan Traynor, co-chair of the building committee. “It is where the people who call Oakwood their home can continue to share Jesus’ teachings to those in Waconia and Carver County.”
Much of the building dedication service focused on the rich history of the church, which was started in 1855 by Swedish immigrants and has been meeting for Sunday worship in Carver County for 160 years. Originally known as Scandia Baptist Church, it was one of the first churches in Minnesota Territory. Because of its historical significance, the little log meeting house was restored and moved in 1973 to Bethel Seminary in Arden Hills. The church’s second building, constructed in 1974 at the corner of Highway 5 and County Road 92, was sold to Northern Lights Baptist Church in September.
“Temples are temporary, but it is God who is eternal,” said Dr. Leith Anderson, who is president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was the keynote speaker at the dedication service.
All of Oakwood’s buildings have been meaningful, he said, because these places are where people have met God, heard the Word of God read, and had their sins forgiven. They are where people have been baptized and where they have been made disciples.
When the church met for its first service in its original log building, way back in July 1857, the Swedish-speaking Pastor F.O. Nilsson preached from 1 John 4:10-11, which says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Anderson said that verse is the dedication call to Oakwood.
“It is the dedication call about the love of God, salvation and loving others,” he said. “It is the core message of what it means to be a church and to be a Christian.”
Other special guest speakers at the dedication were Dr. Dan Carlson, executive minister of Converge North Central; Dr. Steve Anderson, former senior pastor of Oakwood; and Pastor Pete Parker, a former Oakwood pastor who now serves as interim senior pastor of Woodcrest Church in Eagan.
Oakwood is a community where everyone is welcome, no matter where they are in their spiritual journey. Dr. Rich Schoenert currently serves as intentional interim pastor, and worship services are at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. One of nine daughter churches of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Oakwood is affiliated with Converge Worldwide, a fellowship of more than 1,100 evangelical churches in the United States.