Trent Redmann and his congregation are ready for their own church.

After nine years of holding services in living rooms, movie theaters and school auditoriums, they are planning a permanent site for Valley Creek Church.

Redmann and his wife founded the church in their living room in 2001 with a handful of friends. "We started talking about what would a church look like that we would want to invite our friends to," Redmann said.

The church was first housed in a movie theater in Woodbury, then out of Central Park, and now it meets on Sundays at Oak-Land Junior High in Lake Elmo. Redmann estimates that about 250 people attend services each week.

Until the new church is built, the parishioners will continue to unpack their trailers each week to transform the middle-school auditorium into their worship space.

The congregation has a contract on 20 acres of land on the corner of Valley Creek Road and Manning Avenue in Afton. "We're in a capital campaign to pay off our land, which we think we will be on track to do," said Redmann. The land will cost about $410,000.

Redmann tapped Jim Lambeth, a parishioner who works in real estate development, to help coordinate plans for the new campus.

"One of our top priorities is that it be a user-friendly space, conducive to worship," said Lambeth, who has attended Valley Creek Church for about three years.

Matt Reed, who serves as associate pastor, said the new space also will act as a home base for the teen programs he oversees. Teens involved in the church will have a place to hang out during the week.

"The last year or so we've been raising support, starting the fundraising process within our congregation, trying to get people to dream with us about getting our own place," Reed said.

Despite the tough economy, Reed and Redmann are confident their congregation will find the money to fund both portions of the project.

"If it's something they believe in, if it's something they dream with you, people give," Reed said. "Even despite the economy."

While the congregation continues fundraising, first for the land, then up to $3 million for a building, Lambeth is working through the "due diligence" of the sale.

While the staff and development committee hope to break ground within two years, Lambeth said the terms of the purchase agreement leave a large window to complete the deal.

He does the work on top of his day job, and said "not a week goes by where I haven't worked on it in some form or fashion."

His role includes consulting with architects about the design and working through the process of getting necessary approvals from government agencies.

The pastors expect the church to grow, not only during the fundraising period, but also after the building is completed.

Lambeth said the plans are for a space that can be expanded as the congregation grows.

Redmann, a former youth pastor who got his start in Wisconsin, said the church is accredited through Assemblies of God. He describes the congregation as being mostly young families from all denominations, though a large number were raised Lutheran.

The Sunday service is casual, with a heavy emphasis on music, he said. Redmann said he seeks to create an environment where people can get dressed up if they want, but that they'd also feel welcome to worship in jeans.

"We're more concerned about building people than building a building," he said. "But we need a building for the people to meet in."

Emma L. Carew • 651-735-9749