100 years of service

By Thalen Zimmerman (Originally published in the Alexandria Echo Press)

Reach Church of Alexandria will celebrate its centennial after its regular service Sunday, July 23. The celebration will go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the southside of the church’s parking lot with inflatables, face painting, yard games, food trucks and music for people to enjoy.

“Basically a normal Sunday, only bigger,” said Pastor Nick Grey.

What started as a tent full of Evangelists eventually led to a small church put together by local families and it grew to a much larger church that now averages over 200 people in attendance every Sunday.

In the summer of 1920, Evangelists set up a 1,600-person tent to worship God. After the Evangelists left in the fall, some of the families who worshipped at the tent decided to form a church. On December 23, 1920, they officially incorporated under the name, The Assembly of God.

In 1997, the church moved to its current location, the old Roller Max skating rink across from Casey’s Amusement Park, and changed its name to Living Waters. The church changed its name again in 2019 to better fit its vision, “to Reach the lost,” said Grey, “Jesus came to seek and save the lost, so that is what we are here to do. All of us are or were lost until we accepted Jesus into our lives. We are here for you and will love you, accept you, and help introduce you to Jesus.”

Pastor Grey has been with Reach church for the last two and a half years after God called him and his family from Pierre, S.D., to Alexandria.

“God first brought us to South Dakota to learn how to revitalize a church; he was preparing us for Alexandria,” said Grey.

At the time of his arrival, the church averaged about 100 people in attendance. Now that number has doubled to nearly 230.

“We just have an amazing group of people here that love so well,” said Grey, “It is the most welcoming church I have ever been to. When you walk in here, you aren’t lost; you are welcomed and noticed. That is why the first thing people see on our website is ‘Welcome Home.'”

“To make a big church feel small,” Reach Church incorporates modern contemporary style music into its ceremonies, Grey said. It also uses smaller and more intimate groups within the church so members not only get to know each other’s names but also hear where each other comes from, understand their story, and grow closer to God, together, he added.

The church has added a K-5th grade room that fits up to 30 kids, upgraded from one to three infant rooms, and added a mother’s room. More recently, the church board has been meeting with architects to add a kids wing, build walls up around their sanctuary and add a modern feel to the environment.

“We never adapt the message, only the method,” said Grey. “We will be as big as we have to be until we can reach all we can with the message of Jesus.”

Reach live streams their services every Sunday on Facebook and YouTube so people can see what the church is about without having to step into the building.

“We have made it the last 100 years because of God’s faithfulness. We do what we can, but there is a lot only God can do, so we are grateful that the Holy Spirit is working through the church to do what only he can do. That is really what we are celebrating,” said Grey, “He gets all the glory and praise.”

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