Former 'megachurch' in Arden Hills to close its doors this Sunday

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Financial problems and internal divisions have forced the closure of what was once a "megachurch" in Arden Hills.

Comments on Facebook reveal church-goers were told that this Sunday will be the last day of worship at North Heights Lutheran Church.

The Star Tribune reports its congregation has dwindled from a massive 7,600 at the turn of the century – split between Arden Hills and a sister congregation in Roseville – to just a few hundred today.

The newspaper describes a "civil war" within the congregation that saw a breakaway group make claims of deception among church leaders on its "Church Torn Apart" website.

Female pastor Mindy Bak, a target of the complaints, blamed sexism in an interview with the Pioneer Press last year, saying many of the male members don't want a woman to lead their church.

The schism affected church finances, with former member Jack Anderson telling the newspaper "that church is absolutely broke." In June it laid off half its staff.

The church started in 1946 as a 450-seat church in Roseville before expanding by 1985 into one of Minnesota's few mega-churches, with its 43-acre Arden Hills campus holding several chapels and a 1,350-seat sanctuary, the newspaper notes.

The Pioneer Press relates more of the conflict within the church in this article from last October.

The decision to close the church was met with disappointment among its remaining members.

"Very sad day –our church will be close after next Sunday's service," Vicki Berget said on Facebook. "We finally found the church we both loved. There are no words."

Some remain critical however, with Joel Holtz saying: "Worst leadership in the history of North Heights, mercifully coming to an end."

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