Salt Company expands to Drake


Richard Martinez/Iowa State Daily

Hundreds of students gathered at The Salt Company’s kickoff event on the south Campanile lawn Aug. 28. The kickoff featured a live band performance and director Mark Vance, who gave a sermon to the crowd.

Vanessa Franklin

Cornerstone Church of Ames has set its sights on Drake University and the University of Missouri for expansion in fall 2016.

The Salt Company, the college ministry of Cornerstone Church, will expand to both campuses. In addition to the college ministry, members of Cornerstone Church are searching for locations in Des Moines and Columbia, Mo., to plant a church for all community members.

The University of Missouri college ministry will be the first expansion to take place outside of Iowa. The Salt Company previously expanded to the University of Iowa in 2010 and to the University of Northern Iowa in 2013.

“Des Moines specifically we started looking at because even though it doesn’t have a huge state university like some of these other schools, it still has a lot of university students,” said Josh Moklestad, future director of the Des Moines Salt Company. “We’ll focus on Drake, but we’ll have The Salt Company be for all the college students in Des Moines.”

Having a college ministry in Des Moines will provide opportunities for not only college students at Drake but also at Grand View University, Des Moines Area Community College and Mercy College of Health Sciences to get involved, Moklestad said.

The new church will also provide a place for Salt Company alumni living in Des Moines to attend church rather than commuting each week, Moklestad said.

“We’re in Ames, Iowa. We don’t know anything about urban,” said Mark Vance, director of The Salt Company at Iowa State. “Drake in Des Moines gives us the chance to learn not just what it looks like to love college students, but to be in a socio-economic range where there is real poverty and real need.”

The first vision meeting for the new church in Des Moines took place Jan. 31 with 124 people in attendance.

Cornerstone Church will help finance the expansion, but its goal is for the Des Moines church to be self-sustaining within two years, Vance said.

“It makes us nontraditional in the sense that university students do not financially give the funding that is necessary to support a church, but that being said, when we have a large population what we have the ability to do is start a church that can reach into demographics that most churches would not focus on,” Vance said.

Alex Tuckness, Salt Company faculty adviser and professor of political science, said he has noticed many Salt Company students interested in helping with social justice issues.

“We’ve had a lot of Salt Company students help in the public schools, mentoring kids, so we’ve been doing a lot of those things in Ames,” Tuckness said. “But I think having something going in the Drake neighborhood, there could possibly be opportunities for people from here to help with those projects.”

Moklestad said he hopes the new church in Des Moines will not compete with other churches in the area, but rather complement them by finding its niche within the community.

“To make the maximal impact, we want to find the best partners possible,” Vance said. “We’re not coming in as the Christians who have everything figured out. We actually think there are people who have lived in this community that know far better than we do.”

Moklestad said the amount of people willing to help with the growth has been overwhelming.

“One of the phrases we always say is that there are a lot of people who work harder than we do, who are smarter than we are, who teach the Bible better than we do, who never have the chance to see what we see,” Vance said. “We want to walk forward with humility saying we are not obligated, just because we slap the name Salt Company onto something, to see it do amazingly well.”