Word of Life Church celebrates 20th anniversary (video)
The Rev. Sidney Frye thought he'd be in Rochester for maybe five years when he started a Bible study here in 1991.
But this year, the church he pastors — Word of Life Church of God in Christ — is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
"The Lord has left us here for a purpose," Frye said. "We're going to serve here until he says it's enough."
Sunday services at the World of Life church, 4925 U.S. 52 N., have grown to include about 50 people, with more than 100 people considered members.
The somewhat transient nature of the community with the major employer being Mayo Clinic has affected the church's growth in numbers, Frye said. But the staff and congregation have ministered to hundreds of people over the years.
"It's not all in numbers, but it's what we're doing, how we're affecting lives," he said.
Network of congregations
The Rochester church is affiliated with a network of Pentecostal congregations located around the U.S. and in 62 countries. There are about 45 Word of Life churches in Minnesota.
In addition to its function as a church, the Rochester organization operates a Christian academy, with students in kindergarten through fourth grade, and a day care called Seeds of Wisdom.
Frye's son, Sidney Frye II, is a youth pastor at the church. He is working on a master's degree at Bethel Seminary in Arden Hills after having graduated from Crossroads College in Rochester.
The church attempts to help members of the community not only in spiritual matters but in areas of need such as food and transportation.
"We believe we are called to minister to the whole man, with the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs," Frye said. "But I believe the primary role of the church is to bring a person into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ."
However, "People do tend to be more attracted to Christianity when they can see something being done tangibly," he said.
Black experience in Rochester
Frye's experience in Rochester has included a close-up view of how minorities are treated. Most members of his congregation have been black.
"I think the city of Rochester is trying to be more open in terms of reaching out to people of different ethnicities and cultures," he said. "I can't say that I've had a negative experience. I've had a few.
"I look at it from a spiritual perspective — if a person is regenerate in Christ, their response is usually positive; if they are unregenerate, their response to me as a person of color might be negative. People are either in touch with God, or they are wrapped up in themselves, in sin. ... I believe people of faith tend to be more accepting of cultural change."