New Stratford church building
After years of planning, The Mill Church construction has begun
Zach Burris, lead pastor at The Mill Church, was amazed to see excavation work begin last week for a new church building on STH 97 in the village of Stratford.
“It’s liberating to see the ground being broken for our new church because our members have worked so hard to raise money for this project,” he said. “Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s so great to know our church is alive and healthier than it was before. There is a tremendous amount of excitement in the air right now.”
The Mill Church has come a long way since it was formed 11 years ago in Stratford. Members of North Ridge Church in Marshfield helped it get on its feet. The church, which was at first called The Mill, began with only 25 members that met for services in a small 3,300 square-feet rental space located in the Mid-Town Building in downtown Stratford. The church expanded its rental space by 1,400 square feet two years later.
Burris said The Mill was the perfect name for the church, because it was across the street from the former Ulrich Feeds, which Provision Partners demolished in 2016.
“The feed mill is an icon central to rural living in Wisconsin,” he said.
It became The Mill Church in 2015 when an additional congregation began in Edgar. Burris said 230 members in its Stratford congregation now attend church services. Stratford School District had allowed The Mill Church to hold its church services inside the Stratford Elementary School gymnasium free of charge, and The Mill Church donated money to the school district to help it pay for new playground equipment.
The Mill Church still needed its own church building with adequate space to accommodate its growing number of congregation members in the future. As a result it launched a fundraising campaign in 2013 amongst its church members termed BOLD.
“We had already raised $90,000 in the first nine months of our campaign, which is remarkable,” Burris said.
The Mill Church has raised $875,000 toward the total cost of $2.5 million needed to complete the first phase of the new church construction project. The amount of money raised thus far is good enough for a down payment on the first phase of the construction project. Burris signed loan papers on Friday at Partners Bank in Stratford to allow The Mill Church to fund the remaining money needed to complete the first phase of the project.
Phase No. 1 of the new church building project will consist of a sanctuary, large commons area, warming kitchen, offices and four multi-purpose classrooms that will serve as a commercial daycare employing 12 to 18 people and be open on weekdays. Burris said The Mill Church is still in the process of hiring a private company to operate the daycare, which he said would be able to handle 67 children. The new church will include Rock Elm beams harvested from a barn northeast of Edgar.
The second phase of the new church building project will include a gymnasium. This won’t happen until the congregation can raise additional funds.
Burris estimates the first phase of the new church construction project will be completed by Easter next year. The church would move its church services from inside the 4,700 square feet of space in the Mid-Town Building into a new 12,000 squarefoot building located on 10 acres of land along STH 97 on the north end of Stratford. Only The Mill Church in Stratford will use the new church building. The Mill Church in Edgar will continue holding its church services in the Edgar Public School auditorium.
The Mill Church is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, which is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. The Mill Church welcomes people from any church denomination, just as long as they are Christian.