Rock River Community Church | Pastors Bob & Annette Junak
It was a cold and blustery Easter Sunday in Luverne, MN. The wind turbines not far from Rock River Community Church were busy cutting through the light sheets of rain and snow. It’s not uncommon to see snow in April, but something about it never quite feels right on Resurrection Sunday. Yet, the atmosphere inside this rural church was a welcome contrast to the weather outside. It was warm and filled with smiling faces and friendly conversations among people excited to be together. It was an electric atmosphere that had nothing to do with the nearby turbine and everything to do with the winds of change blowing through this place.
A little less than two years ago, Pastors Bob and Annette Junak were made aware of an open pastorate in Luverne, MN. At first it didn’t seem like an opportunity for them, but God was stirring something in them. Two weeks later they were asking themselves, “What about Luverne?” They decided to visit the small town of 4,500 people and made the three and a half hour journey southwest from the Twin Cities right after Thanksgiving Day in 2020. Driving down main street, with its lights and decorations already set up for Christmas, they knew this was their community.
Bob and Annette connected with the interim pastor, Clarence St. John, and soon started conversations with the church board. Going against conventional wisdom, they made it clear that they would implement changes right away. Bob recalls telling the board, “Don’t hire us if you don’t want change.”
The church didn’t flinch and voted Bob in last January. True to their word, change happened immediately with a new name: Rock River Community Church. Their son, Brock, developed a logo and geometric icon, which they used to establish an online presence. They also renovated the interior and exterior look of the church.
Bob reached out to town leadership and intentionally planned outreaches to coincide with community events. As Bob puts it, “We like to think about what we can bring to a community rather than what a community can offer us.” It’s a mentality that hasn’t been overlooked. The Luverne Area Convention and Visitors Bureau recently asked Bob to serve on their board.
Change is now something looked forward to every Sunday. Regular attendees are curious about what will be different the next time they come to church. In less than a year, the church has grown enough for Bob to move from part-time to full-time, and they recently added a kids pastor to the staff.
Bob and Annette are right where they’re meant to be. Bob says, “There are people in Luverne that need Jesus. If you approach it with the right attitude and know that God sent you there, that little church will be thriving and [be] the talk of the community.” People in town are certainly talking. The auditorium was packed on Easter, and dreams of expansion are starting to swirl. It’s driven by the greatest change of all – lives transformed by Jesus.