Faith and commerce merge as church becomes anchor tenant in shopping center
Pastor & writer
The Lord and a North Dakota businessman agree: stop passing Mapleton on the way to Fargo.
The economic and eternal layers of life merged when Harvest Plains Church, a four-year-old Converge congregation, needed a new location this year. Pastor Cody Weckerly saw a shopping center under construction near the interstate and called the developer.
“It was perfectly timed,” he explained. “The guy said, ‘My wife and I have been praying for a church to be in this area.’”
Harvest Plains now has a generous lease as the anchor tenant of what the developer hopes will be Mapleton’s downtown area. The town of 1300 has a new identity reshaped by a golf course, retirement homes, a coffee shop and a microbrewery.
“We are on the front end of this development,” Weckerly said.
God has a plan to welcome even more people
The church’s Sunday attendance averaged 100 people when they stopped meeting at a school in nearby Cassleton, about nine miles away. God had already set up a new location: the Mapleton shopping center offered the church increased gospel opportunity through a larger building closer to Fargo.
More than 200 people attended the first service in Mapleton on August 5. Since then, 150 or more have been coming each week. People who used to run for the door when the service ended have been baptized, become members and invited their family to worship.
“We really feel like we’re going into a community where there’s a need,” he added. “We have more people interested.”
Many in the area are accustomed to religious influences, Weckerly explained. Yet they don’t often connect with God, gain faith or see transformation from traditional spirituality.
God is using the applicable Biblical sermons and genuine worship at Harvest Plains to help more people learn about the Lord and live for his glory.
“These people really love Jesus, and they really love people,” Weckerly said. “There’s a God-centeredness that people sense.”
Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.