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Stenehjem mulls North Dakota joining transgender bathroom lawsuit, Burgum critical of inaction

Grand Forks church expands downtown location

Five years ago, Nathan and Mary Johnson decided to plant the Freedom Church in downtown, so as to be "right where people's lives intersect." Photo by Sarah Volpenhien/Grand Forks Herald1 / 5
Brently Remme fell asleep in the Freedom Church atrium Sunday, where the Remmes attend services. Photo by Sarah Volpenhien/Grand Forks Herald2 / 5
Justin (not pictured), Ashly and Damion Douglas attend Sunday service at the Freedom Church. Johnson said the church attracts "people from all walks." Photo by Sarah Volpenhien/Grand Forks Herald3 / 5
Brently Remme (far right) wakes up from a nap in the Freedom Church atrium Sunday. With him are his grandmother Mary Remme and brother Kaden Remme. Photo by Sarah Volpenhien/Grand Forks Herald4 / 5
Pastor Nathan Johnson wraps up a Sunday service at the Freedom Church in Grand Forks with prayer. Before moving to Grand Forks in 2008, Johnson was a minister in Minot, N.D., and in Newell, S.D. Photo by Sarah Volpenhien/Grand Forks Herald5 / 5
News Grand Forks,North Dakota 58203 http://www.grandforksherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/0901Church%20copy.jpg?itok=akJgNwkA
Grand Forks Herald
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Grand Forks church expands downtown location
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Though the Grand Forks’ bar district may seem like a bizarre place for a church, Pastor Nathan Johnson says the Freedom Church’s location in downtown was deliberate.

“We wanted to be right where people’s lives intersect,” he said Sunday after morning service. “There’s something really powerful about the heart of the city.”

The Freedom Church took up roots on Demers Avenue below the bar The Loft five years ago and now is expanding into the space where Ojata Records, which hosts live music and sells comics, records and hot dogs, currently resides.

Johnson said the church attracts people from “all walks” and that downtown is a good, central location for them all to convene.

“We love it,” he said of the church’s downtown locale. “We have people downtown who would not be downtown were it not for the Freedom Church.”

Though some may see the church as out of place amid the tangle of bars downtown, Johnson said the church is “for everybody,” bar-goers included.

Sarah Volpenhein
(701) 780-1125
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