Since early May, a new Christian church, Connection Church, has been slowly growing in Hettinger. The new congregation has been meeting downtown every Sunday morning in the old coffee shop building on the end of Main Street.
This new church is unique, however, in that the pastor is not based locally in Hettinger. In fact, the local Connection Church pastor, Pastor Stephen Carson rarely sees the local congregation in person. Instead, sermons are prerecorded in Belle Fourche by Pastor Carson and later shown in Hettinger church a week later. Only once a month does Pastor Carson travel to Hettinger to do a live Sunday evening sermon in person for the local church.
“We record our sermons live in Belle Fourche and then send them to Hettinger where they are played the following week,” said Pastor Carson. “It’s a way for our church to spread the word to new audiences and locations.”
Connection Church is a mission-focused church, keen on outreach to new communities. According to Pastor Carson, the church accomplishes their outreach goals by expanding or “planting” Connection Churches in new areas.
The Hettinger church is Belle Fourche’s second “plant” church. Currently, the Belle Fourche church records their sermons for Hettinger and Rapid City, however moving forward, the church hopes to have a new “plant” set up in Bismarck soon.
“We are a church very much focused on reaching out to new areas,” said Pastor Carson. “We had a goal to establish a new plant in North Dakota by 2020, and luckily one family in Hettinger heard our goal and reached out to us.”
After weeks of communication with a local family, Connection Church decided that Hettinger would be a good location for a new “plant.” What started as small informal gatherings slowly grew into more formal sermons and worship.
Although the church is new to town, Pastor Carson said the church’s has no intentions to “steal” parishioners or compete with other churches in town. Instead, he said the church is determined to find people who “love god and Jesus.”
“Our church is very outreach-focused group that has an active presence in the community,” he said. “We have no intention of competing with other churches. Our main goal is to find people who desire to honor God and Jesus.”
So far, the church has gathered a small but committed following in the community. Pastor Carson said that in the past, roughly 40- 45 people have attended the Sunday morning service in Hettinger.
“From what I’ve heard, we have had a good response in Hettinger,” he said “A lot of families have been committed to making Connection Church work in Hettinger.”