Mandan residents find 'new hope' at young church

2013-09-01T01:00:00Z Mandan residents find 'new hope' at young churchBy CARLY CRANE | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune
September 01, 2013 1:00 am  • 

MANDAN, N.D. — Mandan residents may find "new hope" at a young church in Mandan.

New Hope Church, a church in Mandan affiliated with the Assemblies of God, was established by the Rev. Gary Keller and his wife, Tonya Keller, in a Mandan house in December 2012.

The church moved to a storefront in Mandan, 112 Second Ave. N.W., in early April.

Gary Keller, who is from Indiana, said Mandan is a "good fit" for their young and contemporary church.

"There's room for a variety of styles and a variety of personalities of churches in any community," he said. "We asked God what our next step should be, and found ourselves called to establish a new church ... for the whole family."

The Kellers met at Bible college in Minneapolis and have been involved in ministry throughout the Midwest since they graduated. The couple spent three years at a church north of Chicago before making their way back to Tonya Keller's home state of North Dakota.

Gary Keller has served as a staff member at Evangel Temple in Bismarck, and spent three years as a pastor in Crosby before returning to Mandan with his wife and three children to establish his own ministry.

Tonya Keller is a fifth-grade teacher at Fort Lincoln Elementary School in Mandan.

Gary Keller said the church is community- and family-minded and, despite its small size, offers a children's ministry during Sunday services, "Plan at New Hope," as well as a youth ministry that meets on Friday nights, known as "The Spot."

"We are not just internally focused on building our church," he said. "We want to be focused on building the community."

Gary Keller is seeking involvement in a school committee at his oldest daughter's elementary school. He hopes his involvement in the education of his three children can extend to his ministry's potential involvement in the local school community.

New Hope Church's services are contemporary, with stage lighting, video content and a band that plays modern music. Keller said worshippers haven’t yet sung a traditional hymn in any of his church services.

"It is not our goal to appeal to young people specifically. We wanted to be a contemporary church that people of any age can enjoy," Keller said.

Gary Keller said these efforts help the church achieve a central objective of its ministry: offering easy-to-understand messages and worship services.

"It comes back to us as a family-oriented ministry. Everyone in a family, regardless of the extent of their understanding of the Bible or religion, should have a presentation of faith that they can understand," he said.

New Hope Church is still very young, with few members. Keller said the church will officially present itself to the community in a grand opening on Sept. 15.

Gary Keller references their location in a storefront when he mentions the "different setting" of his church. He said New Hope doesn't feel like a traditional church, but "if the setting is unusual, the feeling of the church and the congregation is comfortable."

He said you don't have to look farther than his church's name to discover its central message: hope.

"When people ask me, 'What is your church really all about?' I tell them, 'For every new day, there's new hope,'" he said. "What it really comes down to is that God gives people hope."

New Hope Church offers church services every Sunday at 10 a.m. For more information, contact the church at

Carly Crane is a junior at Barnard College and an intern for the Bismarck Tribune. Contact her at

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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