History of Oakwood Community Church
Oakwood Community Church is a group of dedicated followers of Jesus Christ in Waconia, MN, and since 1855, much about the group has changed. The name of the church changed twice. The name of the conference to which it belongs changed twice. The original building moved. Even the name of the nearby lake changed from Clearwater Lake to Lake Waconia. But what’s essential remains. As Oakwood’s recently retired Senior Pastor, Steve Anderson puts it,
We continue to believe as they believed in 1857. That God is our source of wisdom, and the Bible is our source of truth. Little by little lives in Carver County are still being changed.
Oakwood – Yesterday
Before Abraham Lincoln was elected president and before Minnesota was a state, the church started near Waconia with a small group of Swedish settlers who met in Andrew Peterson’s little log home to study the Bible and encourage one another. For the first baptism of the Scandia Baptist Church in February 1856, they cut a hole in the lake ice to make the ceremony possible.
More than 150 years and 7,800 Sunday sermons later, the church is still doing many of the same things Peterson’s group did way back when. Oakwood has small groups that meet to study the Bible and encourage each other to be positive influences on the culture. And the church still baptizes people in Lake Waconia.
I am sure Andrew Peterson never imagined that there could be 200 people in worship in Waconia. Because of his prayers and the prayers of many faithful people over the years, the Gospel continues to be preached. (Steve Anderson)
The church’s first building –- a 20-by 26-foot log structure -– was constructed in 1857. It was remodeled in 1875 and hit by a tornado in 1904. Because of its historical significance to the denomination Converge North Central of Converge Worldwide, the building was moved in 1973 to Arden Hills, where it now stands on a hillside overlooking the campus of Bethel Seminary. It’s known as the Scandia Chapel and was restored in 1983 as much as possible to its original state.
1973 – New building, New name
In 1973 a new little white church building was constructed on the northeast corner of Highway 5 and Laketown Parkway (CR 30) and the church renamed Waconia Baptist Church. The church met for worship there until 1999, when it took a break in an effort to restart. When it restarted on Easter of 2000, the name changed from Waconia Baptist Church to Oakwood Community Church. Worship services moved to the auditorium of the Waconia High School, and the building at Highway 5 and County Road 30 became the Oakwood Ministry Center.
Oakwood – Today
Oakwood, having outgrown that small building, completed a 17,500 square foot facility on 12.8 acres in the fall of 2015. The current facility seats 297 people for worship and boasts 7 spacious classrooms. This building was built for one purpose, to facilitate glorifying Christ through lives changed by the power Holy Spirit.
Oakwood’s mission has been to fulfill the great commission by taking the gospel to Waconia, Carver County, and to the ends of the earth. Oakwood has focused on Waconia and Carver County through local outreach and evangelism fueled by a deep passion for discipleship. Over the past decade, Oakwood has taken the gospel to the ends of the earth by short-term mission trips to Nicaragua, Jamaica, Russia, North Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Rwanda, the Congo, England, and Ireland. In addition, Oakwood sponsors missionaries in the US, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Sweden and Indonesia.
God’s goodness and faithfulness to the work of the Gospel in Waconia over the last 150+ years has been impressive. We can’t wait to see what He plans to do here and how he will use this body of believers!
Please note: This historical information comes from Trail Markers, the newsletter of the Baptist General Conference History Center. The spring 2007 issue of Trail Markers
(http://www.bethel.edu/publications-archive/trail-markers/past-issues/2007/may/) includes three articles about the Scandia Church and Andrew Peterson’s life. Peterson’s old homestead is now the privately owned Rock Isle Farm, on the northwest corner of 5 and Parley Lake Road.