Minnesota Church Denies Allegations That They Told Older Members to Leave to Make Room for New Young People

Leaders of a Minnesota church are denying allegations it intends to send its mostly senior membership packing in order to relaunch later this year with a new emphasis on young families.

“Everybody is welcome,” Lead Pastor Daniel Wetterstrom of Grove United Methodist Church told KARE 11 news.“Our hope is they’re not going anywhere. This is their church.”

In a Jan. 21 letter to their congregants, Wetterstrom—joined by Associate Pastor Kelly Lamon and Core Team Chair Betsy Stites—maintain media coverage “did not accurately portray what is happening with the Planting Project.” The church operates at two separate campuses, the main church in Woodbury, and the smaller congregation meeting in Cottage Grove.

“The worshippers at Cottage Grove are beloved members of our church family; their presence and contributions are part of our identity,” the letter read.

As Christian Headlines reported Tuesday, members at Cottage Grove were reeling after learning their church would be shuttered in June while a new team, led by Jeremy Peters, revamps music and programming to reach a younger audience. It is set to open toward the end of this year. The effort is being underwritten by a $250,000 grant from the denomination’s regional Annual Conference.

“It’s a new thing with a new mission for a new target and a new culture,” Peters said in earlier news reports, adding that current members would not be barred from the Cottage Grove reset.

“If they are on board with that, they are welcome to attend and engage,” Peters said.

According to a Jan. 18 article by the Grand Forks Herald, church leadership sent out a memo to current members, most 60 or older, recommending they stay away from the relaunched congregation for two years, then consult the pastor about reapplying.

The Planting Project was implemented, Wetterstrom said, to resurrect a congregation that has floundered for years. Existing membership numbers less than three dozen. Without intervention, the lead pastor said the congregation would likely die.

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Source: Christian Headlines