Almost a decade after stepping out in faith and then experiencing several events local leaders said were miracles along the way, the Irons Seventh-day Adventist Church in Irons, Michigan, United States, held a dedication and open house for its new community center building on July 10, 2022.
The brand-new, 3,000-square-foot (280-square-meter) building will provide a new home for the church’s Adventist Community Services ministry, as well as an outreach center for the area.
At the open house, several community partners pledged their continued support for the much-needed center that will serve one of the poorest counties in the state.
A Legacy of Assistance Continues
Since the 1960s, the Irons Community Center has served individuals in need. The community center was established in a defunct Grange Hall built in the 1890s. As the building aged, it became apparent to church leaders that the once-suitable building no longer served their needs.
Stepping out in faith, the Irons church decided to shut down its old center. Vowing to never go into debt, and with a nest egg of US$11,000 in hand, the church set out to build a new home for the community center.
A series of events that leaders consider miracles since that decision has propelled the church’s vision forward. “The money just kept showing up!” Nancy Przedwojewski, one of the community center’s leaders, said. A realtor donated prime real estate. Martin Smith and the School of Architecture at Andrews University chose to do the plans for the building at a fraction of the standard rate. Contractors worked as the money for projects came in, and later, contractors even donated their labor and paid for materials.
In 2021, a generous donor supplied nearly US$16,000 worth of goods for a gigantic community yard sale. Donations, grants, and other in-kind donations were also a major part of the project. Przedwojewski estimates that the value of all the donations topped US$450,000.
Community Pulls Together for New Center
The rural community has rallied around the community center in a variety of ways.
Several businesses and individuals around northern Michigan donated their time and services while the center was being built. These businesses include electricians, concrete finishers, heating/cooling companies, plumbers, sign makers, carpet companies, septic plumbing contractors, landscapers, roofers, and siding companies.
Richard L. Martin, Lake County sheriff, said his department plans to be involved with the center by mentoring youth and providing safety training. “Being the sheriff is not just about law enforcement,” he said. “There are always things that we can be doing as a law enforcement agency that can establish a better relationship with the community. We all live in this community, and we need to make this community better.”
Rachel Gillespie, Community Nutrition instructor at the Lake County Michigan State University (M.S.U.) Extension, says the plan is to offer lifestyle, nutrition, and other food-related classes for people of all ages at the new community center. “We are planning on offering nutrition programs at the community center,” she said.
Przedwojewski said that Spectrum Health and the Michigan Department of Health (District 10) are also planning to offer programs at the community center.
Chelli Ringstaff, director of Adventist Community Services for Michigan, said she is looking forward to working with the new center. “I’m so grateful for all of the love, care, and hard work that Irons has poured into starting their new community service center,” she said. “I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing the new relationships this ACS center will forge within the community — the Lord is going to be working alongside Irons as they minister.”
Community center leaders have made several plans to reach the surrounding area. The center will support the community with a food pantry and lifestyle classes. They also plan to focus heavily on youth ministry in partnership with other community organizations.
As for future ideas, Przedwojewski said leaders are considering offering more programming, including daytime programming for senior citizens, grief recovery assistance, parenting classes, and more. “In God’s work, there is no place for sitting on the sidelines,” she said.
All things considered, Przedwojewski said, she hopes that her church will be able to lead their community to something more profound. “They all know we’re doing good in the community. But I want them to know something deeper. I don’t care if they come to church — what I want is for them to meet the Lord. I want them to find some peace in life because of a relationship with God. That is my ultimate goal.”