FARMINGTON - The historic Exchange Bank Building in downtown Farmington will soon be home to Homestead Community Church congregation after the sale was finalized this past week.

After more than five years, the prayer was answered said Jeff Kerr, pastor of Homestead Community Church along with his wife Kristie who is also a pastor.

The Exchange Bank Building, located on the corner of Third and Oak streets, was constructed 138 years ago. Designed by Augustus Gauger of St. Paul, the building was known as a bank with an upstairs grand hall that served as a community gathering place.

In recent years, the commercial building has been empty. Years ago the building was part of a lawsuit. In the past 15 years, the building has been open as a formal tea room, a women's accessory shop and even served as an ice cream parlor for two different ice cream shops.

"There were times when the process felt like it was going longer than we had hoped but we look back now and we can see the timing had worked out perfectly for us, and we are definitely people of faith and we did not give up on the dream that God had for us," Kerr said.

Homestead Community Church has been gathering for worship for more than four years. The church purchased the adjoining historic building known as the Larson Building, the pink stucco exterior building across from Farmington Bakery.

This past December, the church purchased the Riste Lot from the city that is located behind the Exchange Bank Building.

The plan moving forward is for a three-to-four month renovation process with interior remodeling and some exterior paint while keeping the beauty and integrity of the brick exterior. The hope is the church will be ready for worship by November or December.

Homestead plans to worship in the upstairs known as the Grand Hall Studio and will use the lower level former storefront spaces for meetings, classrooms and youth spaces. The church building will be open for the public to rent out spaces for wedding receptions and community events.

"We are hoping to have an afterschool program for kids and teenagers - these are the things we're very excited about," Kerr said.

Today Homestead Community Church worships inside Faith Methodist Church located off Highway 3 in Farmington. The two churches share the building and sanctuary each Sunday morning.

"We want to bring some support to the local businesses, as well, so we really want to be a part of the life coming back to the downtown area," Kerr said.

Homestead plans to offer youth and family programming Wednesday nights and will host two Sunday worship services, as well as children's small groups and adult study groups. Sunday evenings the church offers a youth service.

"We will have a mom's Bible study in the mornings and we really see the building will be used for everything from throwing parties for the community and as a place to come and get to know one another during the weekends and week nights," Kerr said. "We want to get to know our new neighbors and we want to add new life to the downtown area."

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