Linnerud Drive in Sun Prairie is known for its industrial metal fabrication shops, car repair outfits, and city resources like the library, pool and theatre barn.
Tucked away a few blocks from the Nitty Gritty is The Faith Place, a fundamental church with about 150 members.
In October, Pastor James Hawkins was chosen as the new pastor for The Faith Place from a nationwide list of candidates. His official pastoral installation will take place March 28.
The Faith Place has been in Sun Prairie for 20 years and at its current building for the past eight years. Starting in 2020, the church will become a polling place for Sun Prairie elections.
Hawkins’ father was a pastor.
“Growing up around bishops and musicians was on-hand training,” he said.
Hawkins’ formal training was earned through the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (formerly United Pentecostal Church International). Hawkins is also a district elder over the state of Nevada.
In 1996, Hawkins started preaching in Toledo, Ohio. By 1998, Hawkins had started a grassroots ministry, Higher Praise Christian Center. He served there as pastor for 14 years and owned a charter bus company for almost 10 years.
Hawkins has an extensive background launching ministries, nonprofits and 503© businesses through credit restoration and IRS rules and regulations. His passion and knowledge for this grew when he was founding Higher Praise.
“There is something rewarding about starting at zero, and building up,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins describes himself as an “entrepreneur by heart” and founded James Hawkins Ministries and JHM Radio. He’s taken speaking engagement around the country, slowing down now, to spend more time at The Faith Place.
His book, “Spiritual Indictment,” a memoir, was published in 2018.
Hawkins most recently spent eight years in Indianapolis preaching at Christ Church Apostolic. His wife works for the Indianapolis School District as Hawkins and has remained there as Hawkins is growing in his new position. He has three adult sons, two daughters and 14 grandchildren.
Hawkins says The Faith Place is a “church for everybody” and is a diverse, multicultural church.
“We may be predominately African American, but there are Caucasian members, Puerto Rican members, Asian members here,” he said.
Anyone is welcome to join, and for members looking to formerly to formerly join The Faith Place, there is a seven-week curriculum plan in place for introduction.
“What is the vision, five-year plan, ten-year plan? You’ll need to know,” Hawkins says.
Hawkins says The Faith Place website and logo are also undergoing changes, and the sanctuary will be updated in the future.
Hawkins is thankful for everything faith has brought into his life.
“Sometimes we are being productive, and we forget our roots. But God needs to be at the forefront for everything we do. When we take the time to reflect,” he says. “We are more productive citizens, and we are purpose-driven.”
Hawkins hopes to partner with other community leaders and has met with Mayor Esser and Michael Brown of the Boys & Girls Club, among others. He aims to support youth.
“From when we growing up,” he says of societal pressure, “it’s ten times as hard. It’s important to steer young people in the right direction.”
Hawkins says he’s been welcomed so far as pastor. “I love the people here,” he said, “Sun Prairie is growing, and I’m eager to learn. I’m excited about structure, leadership style, and the future.”
For more information on The Faith Place, visit www.tfpchurch.org or Facebook under “The Faith Place”. Sunday morning worship begins at 11 a.m., community prayer takes place at 6:30 p.m. every second and fourth Wednesday of the month.