With its pastor retiring, the congregation and board of directors of a Ham Lake church have voted to become part of the larger Eagle Brook Church.
The announcement that Horizons Church will become an Eagle Brook campus was made at both churches during Sunday services, and leaders of both congregations said the transition could be complete as soon as Easter weekend in April.
Horizons "is a church that shares our DNA, they share our mission to reach people for Christ," said the Rev. Jason Strand during his sermon Sunday. "They share many of our values."
When the much smaller Horizons becomes Eagle Brook Church Ham Lake, the campus at 1503 157th Av. NE. will be the megachurch's 10th location. Eagle Brook has campuses in Lino Lakes, Woodbury, Lakeville, White Bear Lake, Anoka, Blaine, Wayzata and Spring Lake Park in the metro area, and one in Rochester.
About 24,000 people attend weekend services at Eagle Brook's 10 campuses, according to the church's 2019-2020 annual report. Thousands more tune in online.
Eagle Brook had a vision to have a campus within 20 minutes of every Twin Cities resident. That vision was realized in the past few years when Eagle Brook added its Lakeville and Wayzata locations, Strand said.
Adding Ham Lake "was not on the church's radar," Strand said. "We believe that God has led us to this point."
The Rev. Jimmy Jones, senior pastor at Horizons, first approached Strand in August with the idea that his congregation might become part of Eagle Brook.
Last March, Strand was named senior pastor at Eagle Brook after that church's longtime leader, Bob Merritt, retired. Strand had served as youth pastor at Horizons for seven years before shifting to Eagle Brook.
Jones in January announced his retirement after 25 years. In a letter to his congregation, he said the next step in his ministry was to pass the baton to Strand. Jones wrote that making Horizons an Eagle Brook campus would be a "homecoming" for Strand.
The Horizons board of directors recently signed off on the move, and this month 90% of members at Horizons voted to move forward on becoming an Eagle Brook campus, said Brian Bovee, a volunteer and member of the Horizons board of directors during Sunday services.
With Horizons dissolving, the church's six remaining staff could be hired by Eagle Brook.
"We are going through the process to see if it would be a good fit for them and us," said Eagle Brook Executive Pastor Tyler Gregory.
The official handoff won't be complete until paperwork is processed by the Attorney General's Office. Gregory also said some technology upgrades will be needed.
"They are basically dissolving as a church and gifting their building and property to us," Gregory said. "They are choosing to be an Eagle Brook campus and that is the cool part of this. It is sacrificial on their part."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768