MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re learning more about why the largest church in Minnesota is expanding from the suburbs to the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

Eagle Brook Church is based in Lino Lakes and has 11 satellite campuses around the Twin Cities. On Easter, they had 47,000 people attend in person and more than 30,000 online.

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The leader of the growing church spoke with WCCO on what they plan to do in downtown aside from holding services.

“When people ask why Minneapolis, my simple answer is, there’s a lot of people in Minneapolis,” said Jason Strand, the lead pastor of Eagle Brook Church. “And our church exists to serve people and to love people.”

His church is an organization that keeps growing by leaps and bounds. They just announced they will grow into Minneapolis, buying what was once a Baptist Church on Hennepin Avenue for $6.2 million.

Traditionally, their churches are in outlying suburbs like here in Lino Lakes.

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“It is something we know nothing about,” he said.

But Strand says they are willing to learn.

“There’s so many organizations that are already there doing great things, we are not coming in there with answers, we are coming in to roll up our sleeves beside them and do everything we can to serve and to do everything we can to help,” he said.

He says they plan to give large donations to surrounding places to support people who are going through homelessness and addiction.

“We want to make the community better,” he said. “So even if you live downtown and you say, ‘I am never gonna step foot in that building, I’m not gonna go to that church, I’m not gonna have anything to do with it,’ my hope is that you are glad they are there because they make my neighborhood better, they make downtown better, they make this place better.”

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The church plans to preserve the historic building, and after renovations, open in 2023.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield