By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

A Burlington church officially marks a new era in its history this weekend when it publicly reaches out to local residents under its new identity.

The former Burlington Assembly of God Church – now Journey Church – is inviting the community to experience the changes for themselves during its 9 and 10:45 a.m. services Sunday.

The church, at 740 Center Street, will offer food following both services.

Earlier this year, the Burlington church merged with the former Kenosha First Assembly of God Church to create a multi-campus church under a single name – Journey.

For new Burlington Campus Pastor Levi Ketelsen it is a chance to revitalize the local church with the dynamic resources and leadership of the 80-year-old Kenosha church.

“We get more accomplished together,” Ketelsen said recently. “Blending those two communities together has been a rewarding challenge.”

The former Burlington Assembly of God Church was launched in 1991 by David Paulsen and in recent years was guided by Pastor Howard Edwards, who according to Ketelsen, recognized that a new approach was needed to take the church to new heights.

Edwards, who remains associate pastor at the Burlington campus, reached out to the much larger Kenosha church for guidance, Ketelsen said.

It just so happened that the leadership of the Kenosha church had been praying about other opportunities in outlying areas.

“We want to serve people in their own community,” said Kevin Taylor, who along with Dan Remus is co-lead pastor of Journey Church. “If you really like us, we’ll try to come closer to you.”

Taylor said the Kenosha church became the preferred choice for a growing number of residents from western Racine and Kenosha counties.

However, he added, people are willing to drive a significant distance to Kenosha for Saturday or Sunday services, but wouldn’t be available for small group sessions and other projects that are so vital to the church’s mission.

Giving those people a worship space closer to home in order to create a greater sense of community is one of the goals of Journey Church.

“We needed the DNA to be the same at both campuses,” Taylor said of the merger.

Toward that end, Journey Church uses the same core message at both campuses each weekend. The main lesson delivered during the 6 p.m. Saturday service at the Kenosha campus is recorded on video and replayed as the centerpiece of the Sunday services at the Burlington campus.

“It’s amazing, the receptivity of it,” Taylor said of the practice. “We didn’t invent it – it’s used all over – but it has been very successful here.”

While the “preaching” part of the service is delivered by video the other interactive aspects of each service, including music and fellowship, are unique to each campus.

The merger, according to Ketelsen, allows the Burlington campus to tap into and deliver many of the resources of the much larger Kenosha campus.

Those resources include the leadership of 10 other full-time ministers with a variety of responsibilities ranging from school administration to worship, family and student concerns.

The Kenosha church has long been affiliated with Christian Life Academy – a K-12 school – and in more recent years Journey Ministry College.

The Kenosha campus current serves nearly 2,500 people at its three weekend services. In contrast, the Burlington campus welcomes about 150 people in two Sunday services.

Ketelsen, who came to Burlington in April, said his goal is to raise the profile of the Burlington campus and, in turn, serve a greater number of people and the community at a higher level.

“Not many people know where we are,” he said of the Burlington campus’ location on Center Street near Echo Lake Foods. “Our mission at Journey is to make it easy to find and experience God.”