by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Outreach is the focus for members of Riverside Bible Church, a Little Falls congregation begun in September 2011.
“This goes with our philosophy of reaching out,” said Michelle Casey, wife of the new group’s pastor, Brian. “We named the clothing ministry ‘Riverside Clothing Closet,’ and clothes are given away free. We are accepting donations of clothes.”
Brian and Michelle met at Dayspring Bible College in Illinois. They came back to St. Cloud, Michelle’s hometown, after marrying in 2004. At that time, Brian was a pastor at Northland Bible Baptist Church in St. Cloud.
They spent some time ministering in Dora Lake, in the Chippewa National Forest.
With the help of their college, they searched for a new place to minister, fielding calls from Alaska, New York, Kansas and South Dakota. Brian did phone interviews with churches in Ohio and Michigan.
“We got tired of looking,” Brian said. “At that point we felt it was God’s will for us to start a church.”
The Caseys researched the state of Minnesota, referencing geography, population charts and other demographic information.
“We looked at about half a dozen different areas, and went to two towns,” said Brian. “There seemed to be more of an opening for a new church in Little Falls.”
The Caseys’ main focus is outreach to people who are not attending church anywhere.
“Paul wrote to Corinth that he didn’t want to go where another man’s labors are,” Brian said.
Finding a name for the new church was a long process. It was Michelle who came up with the name just a couple of weeks before their anticipated opening.
“It is fitting, since the Mississippi River goes right through the heart of town,” she said.
The Wednesday before their first Sunday of worship, they got a phone call saying that they could not use the location they had planned to, after all.
“We were able to find space at Highland Senior Living, which we rented from September 2011 to April 2012,” Brian said.
Space in the former Crestliner building became available then and Riverside Bible Church has been there ever since.
The congregation’s musical keyboard came from near the Twin Cities, found on Craigslist. Their hymn books came from a church in Denver and the chairs from Alexandria.
They were connected with a woodcrafter in Inver Grove Heights, who made the pulpit.
Riverside averages upward of 20 people in attendance each Sunday, with families from Pierz, Randall, Little Falls and Royalton.
“We want to reach the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Brian said. “He is our only way to heaven, by faith alone and the grace of God.”
“We have had lots of fun getting to know new people,” Michelle said. “The community has been so open and friendly. Business owners are so supportive of the clothing closet, and several secondhand shops have donated clothing and household goods.”
The Caseys have three children, Drew, 6, Emma, 4, and Jake, 2. Brian works full-time at Apperts in St. Cloud.
“We are always looking ahead,” said Brian. “My ideal is to have a vibrant, active youth group. Our vision for the future is to be seeking more avenues for outreach all the time.”
Junior worship is held Sunday mornings during adult worship, with a nursery available. Bible study is held Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. at the Caseys’ home in Little Falls.
Brian is preaching on one book of the Bible at a time, currently going through the Gospel of John verse by verse
Brian’s weekly message can be heard on KFML Radio 94.1, Sundays at 9 a.m.
For more information, call (320) 414-0323.