by Cori Hilsgen
Gateway Church began holding services at 7 p.m. on Saturday evenings starting Oct. 4 at the Church of St. Joseph Catholic Church Heritage Hall and at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings starting Oct. 5 at the College of St. Benedict’s Recital Hall at the Benedicta Arts Center.
Pastor Bruce Tessen said services went very well this first weekend with many regular attendees, as well as some first-time attendees, choosing the Saturday evening service. He said they also had more attend on Sunday morning than he had expected.
“We are very blessed to be using both facilities at this time,” Tessen said. “We have met some of the nicest, most helpful people at the St. Joseph Catholic Church and the College of St. Benedict.”
He said Gateway Church had quickly outgrown its current location at the former CentraCare Clinic and Pharmacy in downtown St. Joseph.
“We looked for several months in the St. Joseph area to relocate, but nothing was available,” Tessen said. “Thankfully we were able to rent the St. Joseph Community Fire Hall for a short period of time as we continued to look for a place.”
Someone suggested they talk with the Catholic church or CSB to see if they had a place Gateway Church could rent.
Tessen and his wife, Joy, met with Pastor Jerome Tupa, and business manager Sandra Scholz from the Catholic church.
“We were warmly greeted and found the staff to be very friendly and willing to work with us,” Tessen said. “They graciously gave us a tour and answered our questions.”
He said they were very grateful to receive the approval to rent the Heritage Hall on Saturday evenings until they can find a more permanent location.
“What a beautiful facility,” Tessen said. “What a blessing to be working with the Catholic church.”
He added a Bible quote from Psalm 133, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
When the hall is not available because of other parish functions, Gateway Church will use the lower level of the All Saints Academy school building.
Pastor Tupa said in the church bulletin he was delighted the church could offer the space in a spirit of ecumenical fraternity.
Tessen said CSB was also very willing to work with them and agreed to allow Gateway Church to rent its BAC Recital Hall on Sunday mornings. He said CSB college students who attend their services were very happy to hear this news.
“Our desire is to offer another expression of worship for those who do not currently attend any church, and to offer an on-going worship service to the students who already attend,” Tessen said. “This worship service is open to the entire community. Join us.”
Gateway Church began a weekly prayer meeting in St. Joseph in February 2010 to pray for the area. Tessen said it was during that time they sensed God’s leading them to plan a new church in St. Joseph.
Gateway Church began having Saturday night worship services in the area in August 2010, as an outreach of Jubilee Worship Center in St. Cloud. As attendance numbers grew, he said they sensed God leading them to begin a church in St. Joseph.
They officially launched Gateway Church on Sept. 17, 2011 and begin holding Sunday morning worship services one year later.
“Gateway Church is a non-denominational church with a community of believers who are passionate about God,” Tessen said.
He said their services tend to be somewhat informal with an expressive style of praise and worship. People who attend services can expect Bible truth being taught with content-based teaching and practical application. The church’s motto is “Helping people find the way.”
“Our strategy for reaching our community is really quite simple, to show the love of God to everyone inside and outside of the church,” he said. “We are committed to love people right where they are in life with no strings attached. We want to love others as God loves us. We want to help people find the way to eternal life through Jesus and to help them grow in their faith.”
Pastor Bruce Tessen (right) and wife, Joy, stand by a sign of Gateway Church, which began holding services Saturday evenings at the Church of St. Joseph Heritage Hall and Sunday mornings at the CSB Benedicta Arts Center’s Recital Hall until they can find a new location.
Pastor Bruce Tessen and wife, Joy, enjoy four-wheeling. They are shown here in Wyoming, where they explored and relaxed in the wild west.