The origin of Empower Sioux Falls was a journey that one early visionary said could be compared to Jesus feeding the 5,000. We spent a little and God gave us a huge concept. Learn more about the history behind Empower Sioux Falls.
Obedience to God’s Call
In 2007, Pastor Fred Wilgenburg of Center of Hope sensed a call from God to relocate Center of Hope, an area ministry, to a more central location in Sioux Falls. Sensing that God would bless a facility that not only housed Center of Hope but other complementary ministries, Wilgenburg gained board approval for $100,000. He then began the search of purchasing a 14,000-square-foot building.
Soon thereafter, a family stopped by the Center of Hope inquiring about connecting their children into other cultures within the community. This family began volunteering at Center of Hope. Following several conversations, Wilgenburg and the family began to see a common thread – a ministry mall concept housing Center of Hope, a daycare and several other complementary ministries located in downtown Sioux Falls.
"Our vision was to bring like-minded ministries into one building to serve those in need," he said.
Within six months, Wilgenburg had gathered a group of individuals, mostly unknown to one another, with similar visions for the center. This group formed into a board of directors for a facility and vision they called The Sioux Falls Ministry Center.
In 2008 they began praying and working through the paperwork to become a nonprofit entity. They also started looking for a property.
Finding the right building in the right location was tedious. After looking at numerous buildings without success, one board member became so frustrated that she was ready to resign from the board. The day she planned to write her resignation letter she stopped at a local restaurant. As she was leaving, she noticed a friend, Randy Stewart, and began talking with him about her frustration.
Stewart looked at her and said, "Why don't you buy my building?"
Purchasing the 30,000-square-foot Stewart Building was a leap of faith. Not only was the building nearly three times the size they were looking for, but the asking price was over budget and major renovations needed to be done to accommodate the ministry mall concept. Following much prayer, the board decided to move forward with the vision in the expectation that God would provide.
God’s Vast Provision
Just like that day when he fed 5,000 hungry people, God provided! Not long after the board decided to purchase the Stewart Building, a major donor came forward and gave over $1 million to purchase the facility. God took a small number of people with a small dream and a small amount of money and turned it into a God-sized concept. We praise and worship a big God!
Through the years we have also added other ministry outreaches in the community such as the Pettigrew Heights Initiative, a program where our ministry purchases run-down properties, renovates and rents them out in the central Sioux Falls’ Pettigrew Heights neighborhood. Our goal is to be stable and reliable landlords in an area where properties frequently change hands.
We also purchased apartments in central Sioux Falls that we rent at affordable prices, providing encouragement and programming for our tenants.
As our vision for unity and faithfulness across our city grew, we began looking at how we could support area churches by encouraging them to get out and be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community. Through this conversation, we were given the idea of starting a church network to educate, equip, and unite area churches for greater impact in the Sioux Falls area. We called this outreach The Empower Church Network and began hosting forums and educational gatherings in the community.
As we moved into 2018 it became apparent that we needed to bring all of our efforts under one umbrella in order to organize for more outreach. This is when we decided to use the Empower name over all our ministries, including the Sioux Falls Ministry Center.
We chose the name Empower because we believe that it is Christ who empowers us to share our gifts and bless others in His name, and we believe we are called to empower others to do the same.
Since we opened, many individuals have passed through our doors and experienced peace through the hands and feet of Jesus lived out through these ministries. We praise Him for His faithfulness, provision and look forward to His direction for our future.