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Valleybrook Community Church, without a building, still feels like home

Elburn resident Lily Sheehan said when she first attended a Valleybrook Community Church service, she was hesitant.

The church, without its own building, rents space at the former Kaneland Middle School building for its services and programs.

“It [the lack of a church building] seemed, at the time, to be a deficit,” she said.

However, during that first worship service, she said she was overwhelmed by a sense of belonging.

“I thought, ‘We’re home; this is where we’re supposed to be,’” she said.

Now, the lack of a church building does not bother her at all. In fact, she said that it might be a strength of the church.

Claire Laudont, a member and outreach and care coordinator, agreed.

“Everybody has to pitch in to make church happen,” Laudont said. “There’s a set-up team – that rotates – that arrives at 7 a.m. to set up the chairs and the sound equipment, and tears it down afterwards.”

She said that although they would love to have a building – there is a building fund – the church is more about the people and their relationships.

Sheehan, Laudont and Lori Schwiebert, who came to Valleybrook 10 years ago, are part of a women’s group that meets during the week at each other’s homes for Bible study and more. This is one of a number of such groups within the church where people connect, create closer relationships with each other and share intimately in each other’s lives.

“If something happens – good or bad – these are the ladies I would reach out to,” Laudont said.

Sheehan said there is also an accountability to each other so that when a member of the group is struggling with something in their lives, the others are there to help, pray for them and love them.

Senior Pastor Brian Smith said the formation of the church took place 15 years ago when the First Baptist Church of Geneva’s desire to start a church in the area coincided with the Batavia native and his wife’s desire to return to the area.

“I felt God calling us back here to start a church,” he said.

Smith, who also teaches at the Moody Bible Institute, inspires the congregation with his sermons.

“He digs very deep into the word,” Schwiebert said. “He makes it personal.”

Smith said the word of God through the Bible provides the energy within the church. The members show the love of God through their service to each other and in the broader community. They volunteer regularly at the Elburn Food Pantry and help out at the Beautiful U Ministry and other places in the area.

Young people, under the direction of Worship Arts Pastor Todd Hiller, participate actively in leading the worship services. The youth group, together with Children’s Director Ashley Bucher, participates in monthly activities, such as watching Bears games, ice skating and a giant scavenger hunt. They also spend a week each summer partnering with other ministries in Aurora to rebuild buildings, do landscaping and work at the food pantry.

“The Gospel message is the core, and we believe it will change your life, so we want to share it with you,” said Smith.

If you go

Valleybrook Community Church hosts Sunday services at 10 a.m. and activities at the former Kaneland Middle School building, 1N137 Meredith Road, Maple Park. Its mission is helping people find and follow God.

Good Friday service will take place at 6 p.m. April 14, and Easter Sunday brunch will take place at 9:30 a.m., with service at 10:15 a.m., April 16, at Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.

The church will host "Parents, Kids and Money Matters," a workshop with Thrivent Financial, at the Town and Country Public Library in Elburn at a date to be decided. (Visit to check for details.)

In addition, a Summer Bible Club for children ages 3 through 12 will take place from June 26 to 29 at Kaneland Middle School.

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