Thank you to all of you who have prayed and supported and befriended us over the last 21 years. This work is not only our work, but a team work. To God be the glory!
THE HISTORY OF ICCM:
1. Its beginning.
The Church began in 1997 as the initiative of Chris and Monica DeLaurentis, pastors of the Inner City Church of Minneapolis (the original ICCM) located at 1812 Park Ave. in Minneapolis. They are church planters with the Assemblies of God. Seeing the many Hispanics who were arriving in their South Minneapolis neighborhood, they asked a student intern to help start a work amongst the Hispanic community. This brother named Fermin started giving away food and clothes and quickly had some 75 people attending. Unfortunately, he only lasted 4 months because of differences with leadership and left the Church.
Another 4 months passed and pastors Chris and Monica returned to their original plan and contacted Pastor Joel to start over. There were only 4 people who met in the new congregation, and for 5 months they held Bible studies on Sunday mornings. However, as the group was not going anywhere with this strategy, Pr. Joel decided to leave his secular work in November, 1997 and resume the church planting ministry in which he had worked for 10 years full-time in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
2. First services.
The group started with 5 people meeting in a small room at 1812 Park Ave. Soon the group grew to more than 20 people and they were assigned a larger space and eventually reached capacity of 100 people. This happened over the course of 2 years.
3. Change to St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
In order to continue growing, ICCM accepted the generous offer of Pastor Wells from St. Paul’s Lutheran to share space in their building around the corner, where ICCM is to this day. Over the years, we have shared space with between 3-6 congregations of different tribes and tongues at any given time using this worship space.
4. Change of labels; heart remains the same.
ICCM began as part of an Assemblies of God Church. Due to a doctrinal difference that couldn’t be worked out at the denomination level, ICCM decided to affiliate with another denomination - "Pentecostal Holiness”. In this denomination ICCM saw more ministries flourish. It was the first church in the Twin Cities with this group and now there are about 5 new congregations.
In 2007, Pr. Joel decided together with the sister congregations of ICCM and Puente de Vida to break with Pentecostal Holiness and join the Minnesota Baptist Conference. Through this entire journey our heart has always been to preach the Gospel to the Hispanic community and plant churches to God’s Glory.
5. Challenges the church has faced.
ICCM has had to face several challenges over the last 20 years. There have been challenges of doctrine; challenges of division (not of those we have sent to raise churches, but of those who have sent themselves); challenges of men who have used the church for their own purposes; moral challenges where passion has made us face the shame of having to involve the courts in a case that could have been resolved locally; challenges of betrayal where vengeance has been the source of regrettable things and challenges of having to wait on God to change the situation of so many immigrants who just want to live and work in peace.
6. Ministerial fruits.
In 2000, a group of 30 led by David and Julieta Piox along with Claudio and Graciela Silva went out from ICCM to plant a church in St. Paul. David faithfully serves as Pastor of this church called "Vida Nueva" and they celebrated their 17th anniversary this year.
Another group left the congregation in 2002. The Bracho family and the Vargas family left to form a new congregation. ”You preach about starting new churches and we want to start one,” they said. Of course we blessed them and sent them to Lakeville, MN.
A final group was sent with Yolanda, a Colombian pastor who in 2004 accepted the challenge to start a church in Minneapolis - "Viento Recio".
In 2006 Pastor Joel started "Puente de Vida" church on his own at the Woodland Hills facility in St. Paul, MN. Sadly this congregation closed during 2017 after a good run of 11 years.
In 2010, yet another church started in NE Minneapolis at Elim Baptist and finally landed at the Salvation Army NE branch where it still exists today.
In 2012-13 Pastor Joel and his family took a sabbatical in Baja California, Mexico. They served in an orphanage as volunteers with several ministries parallel to the orphanage. In addition to serving with the children of the orphanage, Jeanne served in the education of disabled children and trained several women, most of them nurses, in the science and art of massage therapy. Pastor Joel taught full time at the Mission Bible School with approximately 25 youth and adults preparing to serve the Lord in various ministries.
We returned in May of 2013 and since then serve again at ICCM as pastors of the congregation that is growing slowly, reaching 100 congregants in May 2019.
7. The Present.
Before the year of Covid 19, the membership was 120 people, but in the course of 2020 the church was closed for 4 months and it has been difficult to raise those numbers, currently, February 2021 the attendance is around 70 people. About 80% of the congregation has been infected with covid, some have passed through the hospital, including Pastor Joel, but thanks God that no one has perished from that cause until now, and at the end of 2022 our number is coming back to life, with 147 people last count on our ICCM directory. We have been so blessed to see God at work in people’s heart, coming out of the pandemic, many have returned to church and we have had the privilege of coming alongside many new believers and recent immigrants as well.
We can say with the prophet Samuel and the people of Israel: "Ebenezer" which means: 'So far Jehovah has helped us.'
The future is difficult to predict, we are not fortune-tellers and we do not want to play God. The only thing we ask of God is that he finds us faithful on the day He comes for His people.
ICCM Church - Congratulations for your 25 years of age. Be faithful to our God.
Pr. Joel Ramírez