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December 22, 2022

Blessing Our New Churches

Amanda Knoke

Director for Communications

At the Annual Meeting on December 18, pastors from Downtown, North, and South blessed each others congregations. (Note that a couple of the prayers had audio issues, but they are posted below in their entirety.) Pastor Bud Burk, Pastor for Children & Family Discipleship, Downtown, opened up this special time of “blessing” prayer:

The elders have decided to end our final one-church gathering in a time of blessing. We’ll have six elders praying over us and blessing us—all six in a row. Then we will sing blessing upon one another.

  • Dan Holst: For Bethlehem (Minneapolis)
  • Steven Lee: For South Cities Church (Lakeville)
  • Bruce Power: For The North Church (Mounds View)
  • David Livingston: For Bethlehem (as “sending” church)
  • Kenny Stokes: For South Cities Church & The North Church
  • Bud Burk: For All Three Churches (to-be)

Prayer for Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis (Pastor Dan Holst)

For 151 years, Lord, you have sustained this church by your grace. And as our brothers and sisters Downtown have been sustained and strengthened by grace, we know that your grace is all-sufficient as we are in Christ Jesus—and it’s our joy now to pray.

I ask that there would be continuing grace to sustain, and that grace would come down, and that joy would rise up, and love for one another would abound, and that that love would spill over—not just within the walls of this church, but beyond the walls of this church to this city.

Let it be, oh God! … That joy would sustain and joy would be the motivating impact in these communities: south into Phillips and Powderhorn and over into Cedar Riverside and the U of M. Oh, God! … Do a work among the people here at the Downtown Campus as they live and love and are sustained by your grace with joy.

Along the river and the new communities that are being built, oh, God! … Let the gospel run from this lighthouse—from this place—and let it set ablaze hearts and minds with passion for the Lord Jesus Christ and around and into the city center where there is so much commercial activity. Oh, God! … Would you be pleased to use our Downtown brothers & sisters to reach out in love in their workplaces, in their relationships with their neighbors, and let Christ be exalted. May many come to the brightness of the shining of the Downtown Campus. And then, far beyond these walls, far beyond this city, may it extend to the ends of the earth.

You, oh God, have sustained Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis for 151 years, and this church has been a light to the nations. May it be that for the next 150 years this church would continue to be a light to the nations and to these neighborhoods, we pray in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Prayer for South Cities Church, Lakeville (Pastor Steven Lee)

Our Father in Heaven, you who are merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

You, O Lord, have made an unwavering commitment to build, establish, and beautify your church to advance your kingdom and proclaim your gospel so that Christ is treasured above and beyond all else.

So in light of your unswerving promise to build your church …

  • We ask that you grant South Cities Church to be strengthened with power through the Spirit so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith.
  • May they be rooted and grounded in your love so that they comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge.
  • May their love abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that they approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
  • Fill them with hope, grant them patience in tribulation, and to be ever constant in prayer.
  • And may you, the God of hope, fill them with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit they may abound in hope.

Grant these prayers so that South Cities Church shines the light of the glory of Christ to their neighbors and to the nations. Make them a family who love God, love their neighbors, and make disciples of all peoples.

In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Prayer for The North Church, Mounds View (Elder Bruce Power)

Father in Heaven,

Twenty years ago the North Campus began at Northwestern College, and here we are 20 years later, still reaching out to the north suburbs of the Twin Cities. Would you continue that ministry, continue that work through the faithful prayers and ministry of preaching of the Word of our brothers and sisters at the North Campus.

In just a couple of months, if you should will it, they will become The North Church. And as you have extended your glory and the fame of your Name throughout the neighborhoods of the north side of the Cities and around the globe for these past years, would you continue to make your Name glorious in the years to come so that there is fruitfulness and joy in Christ emanating from that location in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities.

I pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace to characterize that congregation. May that unity and that love cause their light to shine clearly in a dark world. I pray for Steven Lee and for all the elders there to lead with wisdom and compassion. Give them discernment and clarity when things seem complex and difficult. Fill them with your Spirit and keep them humble and gracious in all their dealings.

And, Father, grow this congregation and their love for the Word and for prayer. Make them a praying, Bible-saturated people. Give them a growing love for sound doctrine, strengthen them with all power—according to your glorious might—for all endurance and patience with joy. Keep their eyes fixed on the glorious inheritance that they, as well as all of us, will share with the saints in light.

We pray all this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Prayer for Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis (Pastor David Livingston)

Our Father in Heaven,

We thank you for Bethlehem Baptist Church, our “mother church” here on earth. She was betrothed to Jesus 151 years ago on a spot not three blocks from where her people still meet. You sovereignly centered her where ministry has flourished (and we envision, will again) in every direction, to the …

  • north in the city highrises, arts and entertainment complexes
  • west in the downtown corporate and commercial center
  • south, in your city’s most culturally diverse metropolitan neighborhood
  • east, just across the river to our immigrant and student populations at Cedar Riverside and the U of M. 

As your daughter churches, we received so much of what a good mother wants her offspring to have in the various forms of generous nurturing instruction, material resources, and vision for our own futures. We genuinely claim the same spiritual kinship with you that the biblical daughter Ruth assured to her adoptive mother saying, “Your people shall be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

But tonight it is not our Father’s purpose that we cling to the “mother church,” but to love you just as much and more, and endorse this different calling of yours and ours—your Hannah’s heart of motherhood that birthed us, weaned us, and this very night is giving us away, so that, like her boy Samuel, we “may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever” (1 Samuel 1:22). Might we repeat now to you, dearest mother-church, what the prophet grew up to say. It’s what we want to say in prayer over you:  A promise, a pledge, and a plea.

  • The promise: “the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself” (1 Samuel 12:22). 
  • The pledge: “Moreover, as for [us], far be it from [us] that [we] should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you” (v. 23a). 
  • The plea: “Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you” (v. 24).

We, your former South and North campuses—and now your daughter-churches—say to you: Do not think of us as your last children, only your latest. God, give us siblings … as we seek to give Bethlehem grandchildren!

Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitation be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities (Isaiah 54:2–3).

Prayer for The North Church and South Cities Church (Pastor Kenny Stokes)

Our Father, 

We praise you for your sovereign faithfulness to Bethlehem as we venture out in the North Campus and the South Campus journey to become The North Church and South Cities Church. Thank you for your kindness and blessing and faithfulness in establishing these two other churches over the past years.

Thank you for the kinship that we have enjoyed and the partnership in the gospel as fellow workers laboring together under the same mission statement. I praise you and thank you for the impact that you have granted us in spreading the gospel near and far in each of these local geographic areas and in the wider world.

I thank you for establishing both churches, The North Church and South Cities Church, in the gospel with qualified elders who love you and lead and feed and care for and protect the church. And I thank you for establishing these churches with a healthy church life—a life of faith and hope in you.

I pray that the word of Christ would dwell richly in both congregations, that they would be Word people. And I also pray that they would be “love people,” that they might know the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, and be filled with all the fullness of God and would abound more and more and more and more in love for one another. 

And I pray that your word would continue to spread and be glorified. I think of concentric circles from the near neighborhoods of Mounds View and Lakeville, and outward and beyond even to the ends of the earth—all for the glory of your Name and your fame and our joy, I pray.

In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Prayer for All Three Churches (Pastor Bud Burk)

And now South Cities Church, The North Church, and Bethlehem Baptist Church: 

May you gaze upon our Father in the face of his Beloved Son, the Son of his pleasure and love,

  • worshiping Christ with wonder,
  •  beholding his radiant majesty,
  •  resting in Christ with peace, 
  •  taking in his beautiful meekness.

May you see the light of the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4–6). May the light of Christ be upon your countenance, being a blessing to many. May you not shift away from the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1:23), letting the Word of Christ—the gospel—dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16), rehearsing the unsearchable riches of Christ with increasing grateful joy (Ephesians 3:8).

And may the fruit of this not-shifting, of dwelling, and rehearsing be a
     deeper love for Jesus and
     higher joy in Jesus (1 Peter 1:8–9).

As you think about and adore the One who is supremely true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, may you be captivated with Jesus Christ and his good news (Philippians 4:8).

And may the fruit of this not-shifting, of dwelling, and rehearsing become the very ingredients that the Spirit uses to draw your children to Jesus, granting them a full-term spiritual birth as they hear his voice, gazing upon him in faith, so that they would be welcomed at The Table of our King, and that we together would walk on this new earth in his presence. 

And may the fruit of this not-shifting, of dwelling, and rehearsing be the desire to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus Christ to the peoples of the world. Let the nations, and the generations among the nations, be glad in Christ. 

May the Spirit direct your hearts
     to Father and his love,
     to Christ and his steadfastness (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times, in every way.
     The Lord be with you all.
     The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18).

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen—Jude 24–25