Archive for Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Area couple setting sights on new church

November 9, 2005

An area couple plans to open a new church early next year.

The Rev. Greg Sarensen and his wife, Catherine, who moved to Basehor in late August, are associated with the Evangelical Free Church of America.

The EFCA, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., is made up of about 1,400 churches.

In this area, EFCA churches are in Leavenworth, Oskaloosa, Lawrence and Overland Park, said Sarensen, who refers to EFCA churches as "free churches."

He said the new church would serve a multi-city area, being near Basehor, Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs.

"We'll start with a bible study in our home," Sarensen said. "Our goal is, as the Lord brings people, we will move into some kind of a facility, probably a rented facility."

The move to southern Leavenworth County made sense, Sarensen said.

The couple's two daughters are home-schooled, but attend several classes at a home-school cooperative in Leavenworth.

"We knew that coming here we would be able to continue that," Sarensen said. "We felt the Lord leading us here because we knew it was growing -- greatly growing, we were interested in being near to a metropolitan area and there weren't any free churches there."

Sarensen, who grew up in Netawaka, 40 miles north of Topeka, said that before moving to Basehor, he pastored at a small fellowship in Atchison.

Prior to that, he pastored 11 years at Faith Evangelical Free Church in Manitowoc, Wis., and for the past six years served as an elder pastor at River Bend Bible Church in Atchison.

The EFCA was formed in 1950 by the merger to the Swedish Evangelical Free Church and the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association. Both churches, Sarensen said, were started in the late 1800s by Scandinavian immigrants.

Though Sarensen has a personal Scandinavian heritage -- his grandfather emigrated from Denmark in 1889 -- he said it's a coincidence that he wound up being associated with a church that has such a strong Scandinavian history.

Sarensen and his wife are graduates of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Ill. That's where Greg completed seminary school and Catherine received a master's degree in counseling.

Sarensen described the church they're starting as "age-integrated and household-based."

That means, Sarensen said, that church members aren't separated according to their ages.

"It's more like a household where there are people of all ages and life stages together," Sarensen said.

This is not a new strategy, Sarensen said.

"It's something old," Sarensen said. "It's looking back in the past and how families functioned together and how households were involved in ministry together."

Sarensen, who last Thursday held an informational meeting, said he and his wife are looking forward to starting the new church.

"We'll start as the Lord gives us a core group of people," Sarensen said. "A critical mass of people who are interested and committed to this work."

For more information, the Sarensens can be contacted by calling (913) 728-2626.

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