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Salvation Army brings services outside church walls

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — In the middle of a thrift store parking lot in Hilltop Mankato, pews are replaced with folding chairs.

“For anybody who is looking for a church home, we might just be it,” Pastor Steve Hultengren said.

“It’s my first time here, so I thought I’d take a look and see what it’s like,” first-time participant Dan Selvig said. “I love these little venues where it’s an intimate service, and you can almost meet everybody in the congregation.”

And a small group of community members proves anywhere can be a church.

“The people are real. We’re reaching out. There are people that have real needs, and we’re real people reaching out to them. And it’s kind of, we’re meeting them at their level,” Hultengren explained.

Every other week, the Mankato Salvation Army holds outside mid-week services. All are welcome to join, listen and sing.

“We figured, ‘Why just stop inside of our walls?’ And [we] wanted to give them an opportunity to get out of their comfort zones, get out of their shells and help the world around us to know that the church is here and the church is for real,” explained Lt. Andy Wheeler of the Mankato Salvation Army.

Wheeler says they’re calling back to the organization’s roots.

The Salvation Army, founded in the mid-1800s, began holding services on street corners and outside bars, with a mission to help those most in need.

“That’s what we’re all about. You can come just as you are. If you felt like somebody in your life didn’t want you, come to us. We will take you. We want to see you here,” Wheeler added.

“The bottom line is we’re not here to promote any specific denomination or demote any specific denomination. We’re just here to love you the way God would tell us to love you,” Hultengren stated.

The Mankato Salvation Army will continue outdoor services every other Wednesday through Aug. 18 at the Salvation Army Family Store on Star Street.

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