- Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2015

LINCOLN, N.D. (AP) - The 4,500 residents of the Bismarck suburb of Lincoln had more options than usual to attend Christmas church service this year.

Several churches have recently formed in the community that for decades had been served by only one congregation, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1PplPC5 ) reported. Two churches offered their first sermon this year, First Love Church of the Southern Baptist Convention and Grace Lutheran Brethren Church, while a third one is planning an expansion as its congregation gets bigger and the demand for child care increases.

“The school opened and all these houses popped up like weeds popping out of the ground,” said The Rev. Kevin Nelson of Peace Lutheran.

The Rev. George Crawley leads First Love Church, which opened in September. These days, he said, 30 to 35 people of all ages attend the church every week; some are from Bismarck and others from Lincoln.

“The Lincoln community had started to grow since the oil boom,” Crawley said. “There were a lot of unchurched people here.”



One of First Love’s parishioners is Chrystal Rychman, who used to drive 35 minutes from her home in rural Menoken to Riverwood Baptist Church in Bismarck. Rychman’s new commute to church is only 10 minutes and her family attends the Sunday service, Wednesday Bible study and devotionals and games on Fridays.

Rychman said she was concerned about joining a new church, but felt at home after listening to the first sermon.

“It was a huge blessing,” Rychman said. “You could feel God in there.”

Grace Lutheran opened in October across town from First Love. To let people know about their existence, church members dropped off fliers at homes, put of signs, ran radio spots and even placed an ad in the water bills of Lincoln residents.

The church gathers at a small facility rented from the park district.

“There are very limited places to meet in Lincoln,” said The Rev. Ryan Nordlund, adding that he would like to eventually build a church that can also function as a gym facility.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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