by Olivia Alveshere
Eagle Brook Church opened its sixth campus in Anoka March 25, and worship services that weekend were overflowing with people – 6,545 total.
Every chair in the building was pulled into the lobby Sunday, March 26, to try and accommodate 700 people that were unable to find seats in the primary worship space for the 11 a.m. service.
Attendance has dwindled some in the last three weeks with 3,800 people attending worship services last weekend, but Easter is expected to draw even bigger crowds. Eight services are planned April 13-16 to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.
Walking into the church at 1100 Highway 10, it is hard to imagine the space was a vacant Kmart store 10 months ago.
Approximately 24,000 square feet of space was demolished at the front of the building to allow for landscaping. The inside of the church is 62,000 square feet with a large area for the church’s youth, offices and an auditorium-like worship space that seats 1,000.
A cafe and bright lobby greet people when they walk in the door.
The building was completely renovated at a cost of $18 million. The project was finished debt free thanks to Eagle Brook attendees’ generous contributions, according to Brad Hunt, Eagle Brook communications director.
The church, initially called First Baptist Church, started in 1948 in Sam and Ethel Hane’s White Bear Lake home. It was renamed Eagle Brook Church in 1995 and today has campuses in Anoka, Blaine, Lino Lakes, Spring Lake Park, White Bear Lake and Woodbury.
The church had been holding services at Coon Rapids High School since 2013 to prevent overcrowding at Blaine and Spring Lake Park campuses, but with the grand opening of its new Anoka site, Eagle Brook has ceased operations at CRHS.
Between 1,000 and 1,200 people converged at the high school for weekly worship, according to Aaron Damjanovich, campus pastor. There were about 300 volunteers. Numbers have tripled in the last three weeks.
The Lino Lakes campus is the largest of Eagle Brook’s six, and the weekly message is usually broadcast live from that site. Music is always performed live at each site.
There are lots of bright lights, and the volume is loud.
“We want to be engaging and inspiring and full and relevant,” Damjanovich said.
Bob Merritt, senior pastor, and Jason Strand, teaching pastor, generally deliver the message with a goal to make it directly applicable to attendees’ daily lives. The most recent series, called “Don’t Mess With My Grande Non-Fat Vanilla Latte Faith,” dived into faith becoming routine, like grabbing a latte in the morning. The series encouraged attendees to set aside convenience for transformation in relationship with God.
“Our messages are very relatable, very real, very biblically based,” Damjonovich said.
The church’s mission – “empowered by God to reach others for Christ” – is at the heart of every decision Eagle Brook makes, according to Damjonovich.
“We want to be welcoming to all people,” said Damjonovich, who grew up unchurched and found his way to Jesus at a church he described as very much like Eagle Brook in Montana at age 18. His mother died at 41 less than a year later, and at her funeral, Damjonovich felt the call to become a pastor.
“Jesus changed my life. He changed my mom’s life,” Damjonovich said. He wants others to experience that same transformation.
“Come as you are, and grow in your faith,” he said.
Generally, services are at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. each Saturday and 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. each Sunday in Anoka.
For Easter, a 7 p.m. service is planned Thursday, April 13; 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. services are set for Friday, April 14; a 2 p.m. service in addition to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. services will be held on Saturday, April 15; and as is typical, worship will begin at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday, April 16.
To learn more about Eagle Brook, visit www.eaglebrookchurch.com.