Grantsburg (WQOW) – Nestled in rural Burnett County, where greenery now surrounds the grounds of what used to be a farm, Chicken Coop Church has flown from the coop of a traditional church.
Known as “a church for the unchurched,” Chicken Coop Church opened its doors on Jan. 5, 2014 with just a few seekers and believers, also known as “chicken coopers,” who needed a place to lift up their spirits. The building is a remodeled chicken barn that was built on a 20-acre rental property in Grantsburg, where Pastor Peter Johnson and his wife, Heidi, have been residing since 2001.
With $147 in their checkbook, the chicken coopers held the first few services inside the barn, which didn't have proper heating at the time. Shortly after, the church's prayers were answered; it gained mission partners. Local contractors donated supplies and their time in making necessary renovations to the building.
With a few of his friends and construction co-workers, they came up with the name that is sure to turn heads. "They all said, 'We and everyone we talk to are uncomfortable with going to a church that is called a traditional name,' which puts up all the biases in people's mind, whereas if you had something unique and funky, people might be more comfortable and want to attend," Johnson said.
To remain true to their name and make a statement in their faith, he said the chicken coopers are baptized in metal troughs. Chickens also sit alongside them during service.
The leader of the pack said the church is progressive and liberal in its views, welcoming everyone from all walks of life, including recovering alcoholics and addicts, those with mental illness and those who live below the poverty line. "There is not a platform of judgment," Pastor Johnson said. "The reason they come is because they know they can show up and offer what they have -- their service and heart for God."
Pastor Johnson said the future of Chicken Coop Church looks bright, and they're hoping to raise $100,000 by June 2018 to purchase the church and the land it is located on. To date, they've raised about $2,000 and have $10,000 pledged from community partners.
"We are here for the ones not here -- for those who suffer from mental health which keeps them from getting out of their house, the addicts who are still using that is not making it to church," Johnson said.
Chicken Coop Church has "Soup in the Coop", which serves dinner to families and individuals so they're fed before the start of Sunday service. If you'd like to learn more about Chicken Coop Church, Pastor Johnson said you can call 715-566-1992, check out their Facebook page and their website.