Pastor’s goal in reopening church: build relationships in Everett

Story, photo and audio by Conor Dunn, NewsNetNebraska

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Pastor Jeff Heerspink with his wife, Beth, and their children, Abigail, 10; Josiah, 7; Caleb, 6; and Elia, 4. Courtesy photo.

When Pastor Jeff Heerspink reopened the glass doors of the 88-year-old brick church located at 1302 F Street in the Everett neighborhood this summer, he didn’t know what to expect. For the past 50 years, the congregation of the former St. Paul United Church of Christ was increasingly deteriorating as well as the building it worshiped in.

Now known as the F Street Neighborhood Church, a Christian Reformed Church, the congregation is building its numbers step by step with one goal in mind: building relationships with others in the Everett neighborhood.

But Heerspink admits the type of housing in Everett creates a challenge.

“Apartment buildings are notorious for you walking in, maybe saying hello to your neighbor, and closing the door and not connecting,” he said.

By moving to the neighborhood with his wife and four children, Heerspink hopes to gain a better understanding of the people who live there.

Heerspink and much of his 70-member congregation moved to the new church from the Northern Lighthouse Church, located at 6141 N. 14th St. Although Northern Lighthouse Ministries still owns that church, Heerspink is excited to see what can be done with all of the extra space the building in Everett will provide.

But there is still a great deal of much needed repair work. Two weeks after the church was purchased, someone fell through a steel fire escape outside the building. That fire escape has now been replaced with a wooden porch. Eight furnances, most of them more than 30 years old, are in need of replacing and the elevator is being repaired.

DUNN_People_Heerspink“We’re still a poor church neighboring in a poor neighborhood,” Heerspink said.

Despite its financial standing, Heerspink said the church is discussing purchasing a 12-plex apartment in the neighborhood. Church members hope to find donors who would pay for a community faith director to live there.

Then, Heerspink would like to transform the 12-plex into a community space that will help transition homeless people, drug addicts, inmates or even single mothers into residential life.

“I went into an apartment yesterday and you realize the hell of this neighborhood for some people,” he said. “Every bedroom had somebody strung out on drugs and here’s this little girl who is maybe 8 watching TV in the midst of this.

“This needs to change. How do you do that? It’s not just evicting them,” he said. “We’ve got to be willing to work and invest more in a neighborhood like this.”

Heerspink talks about what the Everett neighborhood needs:

Return to The People of Everett

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