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Cornerstone Church finds a new place of worship in Blue Earth

Evangelical Free Church finds a permanent home to pray

March 26, 2017
Chuck Hunt - Register Editor ( , Faribault County Register

Pastor Dave Drescher comes just short of calling it a miracle. But he does say it is miraculous and proof that God does indeed work in mysterious and wonderful ways for His people.

After more than 20 years of holding services in a variety of locales, the Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church of Blue Earth finally has a church building to call home.

The church's congregation recently purchased and moved into the former Winter Funeral Home located on Highway 169 in Blue Earth.

Article Photos

Pastor Dave Drescher stands outside of the new location of the Evangelical Cornerstone Church in Blue Earth.

Drescher says this move is somewhat ironic for two reasons.

One is that when four couples from Winnebago and Blue Earth first started what would eventually become Cornerstone Church back in 1995-96, they felt a new Evangelical Free Church could be started somewhere in the Highway 169 corridor.

"It is interesting that God has now put us right on the 169 corridor," Drescher says. "Just as it was first thought to be the location."

The second bit of irony is that this is not the first time Drescher has looked at this site as a possible home for Cornerstone Church.

"When I first came here to Blue Earth in September of 2001, we were exploring possible sites for a church," he recalls. "A real estate agent showed me this building. At the time it was closed, and had been a restaurant."

Drescher and the congregation decided it was too expensive to buy, and would be way too costly to transform from a supper club to a church. So they passed on it.

After that, Winter Funeral Home purchased and remodeled it into a funeral home. It was closed after some deaths in the Winter family.

"We actually made an offer on it last year, but it was not accepted," Drescher says. "But now our offer was accepted and it is working out very well for our needs as a church."

Drescher adds they are very sorry for all the tragic deaths in the Winter family, but are truly grateful for all the remodeling they had done on the building, and their willingness to sell it to the church.

"We are doing some remodeling to it, but overall we have had to do very little," Drescher says. "We are still in the process of doing some planning on how to best to use all the space."

Still to come are classroom spaces, in particular.

Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church now has its actual own building to call its own.

The church started as an idea by one Winnebago family in 1995.

In early 1996 four couples from Winnebago and Blue Earth started meeting for Bible study and prayer. They first called their group "Winnebago Area Bible Study" and met in various homes.

In the fall of 1997 they started meeting for Sunday evening worship at the Winnebago Municipal Center. They changed their name to the "Winnebago Evangelical Free Fellowship."

In February of 1998 they made a decision to move the Sunday evening worship to Sunday morning church service and on March 15, 1998, started holding Sunday services in Coleman Hall in Blue Earth.

Dennis Painter was the first full-time pastor and began his duties in October of 1998. Just two months later, in December 1998, the name "Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church" was chosen and they became affiliated with the North Central District of the?Evangelical Free Church of America.

In the fall of 2000 the church began meeting at the Performing Arts Center at Blue Earth Area High School. And in January 2011, the church started having services at The Refuge, the Youth for Christ youth center in Blue Earth.

Drescher became the pastor of Cornerstone in September, 2001. He had a varied path on his way to becoming a pastor in Blue Earth.

A native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Drescher went into the Army for two years after high school (1973-1976) and became an Army chaplain assistant.

He married his high school sweetheart, Cora, and the two of them had four children, while Drescher went through a variety of jobs, including working in an ice cream making plant, an aluminum die-cast manufacturing factory, and even driving semi as an over-the-road trucker.

When he was 27 years old, he got a call from God. He attended the Moody Bible Institute and then Trinity International College in Deerfield, Illinois, and became an Evangelical Free Church pastor.

Drescher's first church was in southern Wisconsin, in a town named Gratiot.

He was there for three years before going to Ottumwa, Iowa, where he was for four years.

From there it was on to Maquoketa, Iowa, for seven and a half years, where he, and his family, helped start, and build, a new church.

His next stop was Blue Earth, in 2001. A year later, tragedy struck.

"My wife and I were involved in a bad car accident," Drescher says. "I was injured, but she was killed."

A woman in his home church back in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, learned of the tragedy and began praying for Drescher and his family, although she had never met him. Eventually the two began corresponding, met, fell in love and were married.

"Donna was a widow her husband, a pastor at a Christian Alliance church, had died nine years earlier," Drescher says. "We found we had a lot in common."

Including children.

"I had four kids, she had five," he recalls. "So we had a blended family of nine. Only four were still home at that time, however."

After the wedding, Donna Drescher moved to Blue Earth and eventually became the ELL teacher, dealing with Hispanic students.

"Her work helped me become aware of the Spanish speaking community here," Drescher says. "And we developed a relationship with them."

Currently Cornerstone Church holds a church service in English on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m., then a service in Spanish at 11:15 a.m.

They average around 45 to 65 people at the English service, another 25 or more at the one in Spanish.

"We first tried a combined service in both languages, when we began our relationship with the Hispanic community," the pastor says. "But we found it did not work well. We have made mistakes along the way, and we learned from them. But we are making progress."

Ishmael Martinez, co-owner of the El Tio Grocery in Blue Earth, leads the Spanish service.

Pastor Drescher explains that his many life experiences have helped him become a better minister to his congregation and to others in the community.

"Facing tragedy, being a single parent, blending two families," he cites as some of those experiences. "And rescuing a son addicted to drugs from perhaps even death."

Especially that latter item. While his son is now OK and living and working in Colorado, Drescher has used this personal experience with helping someone recover from addiction in a special part of his ministry.

"Every Wednesday I go to the Adolescent Treatment Center in Winnebago and visit with the kids there," Drescher says. "I finally feel I am doing something extremely relevant, especially for the younger generation, and am doing something God wants me to do."

He says he visits with the kids there who are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.

"It is optional if they want to come to my meetings," he says. "But most of them do. I am up front with them. I tell them about myself, my wife's death, my son's addiction. I tell them about God's working in a person's life, and I tell them there is hope for them."

He uses some videos about drug addiction that feature music artists and others well known people. And he gives all the kids a Bible called "Life Recovery Bible for Teens."

Sometimes he becomes a life coach for the kids there, and gives them his cell phone number to call if they need help.

"It can be heartbreaking," he says. "When a 13-year-old girl tells you she knows she can never go home again, can never be with her mom and dad again. Or when I say I have never met a heroin addict and a young girl shakes my hand and says, 'You have now. Thank you for caring about me.'"

Cornerstone Church itself is reaching out into the community with a similar mission. One of their members is hosting both A.A. and N.A. types of meetings at the church.

"We want our new home to be used, both for our own members, and for the whole community," Drescher says. "I can't say enough what it means to all of us to finally have a place we can call our own."

Drescher is now enjoying his new office, which is actually located inside the new church building. For many years his office has been in the basement of the Faribault County Register office building.

Cornerstone Church will have an official dedication of their new church home during worship service at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 23. There will be a potluck meal following the service and Drescher adds anyone in the community interested in the new church is certainly invited.

"We are very, very excited about this, and are thankful to God for leading us here," Drescher says. "We are hoping finally having our own church building will help us grow, and with God's help, maybe this will one day be too small for us."



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