AroundBirch Bay

Published on Thu, Jan 11, 2007
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Around Birch Bay

The former Dakota Creek Tavern on Blaine Road got religion last weekend as Pastor Lee Connors and his wife Rosemary Reuss-Connors hosted the first Sunday worship service for a new ministry they call the Dakota Creek Community Church.

The couple leads a ministry team that recently purchased the 10,000-square-foot former dance hall and tavern, and with a lot of volunteer help have cleaned it up to use as a church and community center.
“We saw this place a couple of years ago while driving around the area looking for a place to live, and when I saw it I had a feeling,” said Lee Connors, 50, “and told my wife that this building was going to be our next church.”

He said though it was pretty seriously run down, he “didn’t see the garbage but the possibilities.”

The next two years were filled with negotiations and, when a purchase became possible last summer, with three months or more of old-fashioned elbow grease. “People from the Eastgate Church in Mission really helped out a lot,” Connors said, “many of them staying until the early morning hours. We scrubbed this place and scrubbed it again and again, and we think it will work pretty well.”

Inside, it will be familiar to anyone who has been in it before. Connors said they plan to keep the large bar and lounge area as a place to serve coffee and snacks before and after Sunday worship. And to encourage community use, they kept the pool tables, too.
Also on the pastoral staff is Barry Leisegang, ordained by the Pentecostal Association of Canada, and who works at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham.

Local artist and graphic designer Eddie Pears is a church elder and will be responsible for operating the large coffee bar that dominates the inside of the main room, giving it a welcoming kind of feel.
Connors was ordained locally (as opposed to being ordained by a national body) by the New Hope Christian Center Society of Abbotsford. He and his wife have been working as music ministers in the greater Vancouver area. Connors holds degrees in philosophy and religion from Western Washington University.

Born a Roman Catholic, Connors said that he finds a locally based non-denominational style appealing, especially when starting out a new ministry, since all the decisions are up to the local group.
Rosemary Reuss-Connors will be primarily responsible for worship.

The couple has a blended family of children with one on the way, and expects family ministry and especially creating opportunities for young new moms to be a focal point of their work, Connors said
Connors said that “We are excited to see where this will all lead, to see how we can best serve the community’s needs being between Birch Bay and Blaine, whether as a community center, a place for young moms to come and relax together, a youth center ... or even a place to teach swing dancing.”

The new church worships at 10 a.m. each Sunday plus an evening service at 6:30 p.m. on the last Sunday of each month. For more information call 319-7635 or visit