In the United States, the community center will cater to rural residents

Nearly a decade after manifesting its faith and experiencing several events that local leaders have called miracles along the way, the Adventist Church in Irons, Michigan, USA, held a dedication and open house for its new community center building on July 10, 2022.

The brand new 3,000 square foot (280 square meter) building will provide a new home for the church’s Adventist Community Services ministry, as well as an outreach center for the area.

At the open house, several community partners pledged their continued support for the much-needed center that will serve one of the poorest counties in the state.

A legacy of continued support

Since the 1960s, the Irons Community Center has served those in need. The community center was established in a former Barn Hall built in the 1890s. As the building aged, it became apparent to church leaders that the once-adapted building no longer met their needs.

Coming out in faith, Irons Church has decided to close its old center. Swearing never to go into debt and with a nest egg of US$11,000 in hand, the church set out to build a new home for the community center.

A series of events that leaders consider miracles since that decision propelled the church’s vision forward. “Money kept popping up!” Nancy Przedwojewski, one of the community center leaders, said. A real estate agent has donated prime real estate. Martin Smith and the Andrews University School of Architecture chose to design the building at a fraction of the standard rate. The contractors worked as the money for the projects came in, and later the contractors even donated their labor and paid for the materials.

In 2021, a generous donor provided nearly US$16,000 worth of merchandise for a gigantic community garage sale. Donations, grants and other in-kind donations were also an important part of the project. Przedwojewski estimates that the value of all donations exceeded US$450,000.

Community gathers for new center

The rural community rallied around the community center in various ways.

Several Northern Michigan businesses and individuals donated their time and services during the construction of the center. These businesses include electricians, concrete finishers, heating/cooling companies, plumbers, panel makers, carpet companies, septic plumbing contractors, landscapers, roofers, and siding companies.

Lake County Sheriff Richard L. Martin said his department plans to get involved with the center by mentoring youth and providing safety training. “Being the sheriff isn’t just about law enforcement,” he said. “There are always things we can do as a law enforcement agency that can build a better relationship with the community. We all live in this community and we have to make this community better.

Rachel Gillespie, community nutrition instructor at Lake County Michigan State University (MSU) extension, says the plan is to offer lifestyle, nutrition, and other food-related courses. for people of all ages in the new community center. “We plan to offer nutrition programs at the community center,” she said.

Przedwojewski said Spectrum Health and the Michigan Department of Health (District 10) also plan to offer programs at the community center.

Chelli Ringstaff, director of Adventist Community Services for Michigan, said she looks forward to working with the new center. “I am so grateful for all the love, care and hard work Irons has put into starting their new community service center,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the new relationships this ACS center will forge within the community – the Lord will work alongside Irons during their ministry.”

To advance

The leaders of the community centers have developed several plans to reach the surrounding areas. The center will support the community with a food pantry and lifestyle classes. They also plan to focus heavily on youth ministry in partnership with other community organizations.

As for future ideas, Przedwojewski said leaders are considering offering more programs, including day programs for seniors, bereavement recovery assistance, parenting classes, and more. “In the work of God, there is no place to sit on the sidelines,” she said.

All things considered, Przedwojewski said she hopes her church will be able to lead her community to something deeper. “They all know that we are doing good in the community. But I want them to know something deeper. I don’t care if they come to church — what I want is for them to meet the Lord. I want them to find some peace in life through a relationship with God. This is my ultimate goal.

The original version of this story was published by the Herald of Lake Union.

Jill E. Washington