WAITE PARK -- Songs, laughter and prayer will ring out once again at a vacant Waite Park church.

The Waite Park city council unanimously approved a conditional use permit and parking variance this (Monday) evening for Higher Ground Church of God in Christ.

Pastor James Alberts says they are thrilled to continue their call to service in a place with so much beauty and history.

"I'm excited but I am also sober minded and I know the real work begins as far as taking on the new location, getting it up and ready to go so we can have services and become a part of this community," says Alberts.

Due the parking restrictions on the property, the variance allows for an increase in parking distance from 350 feet to 400 feet. The church has an agreement with the Area Learning Center to utilize parking on their property during services.

Before the building can be used High Ground must update all the building code requirements, including making it handicap accessible. Alberts says their plan is to renovate the main worship area first, and address the lower level, which is expected to be used as office space, at a later time.

"We have some minor improvements we need to make to the main sanctuary area in order to get it cleared. Then we will take our time with the lower level because most of the construction that needs to happens goes on down there," says Alberts.

Higher Ground plan to hold worship services, weekday tutoring for students, Bible Study, prayer times and choir/dance rehearsals.

The church located at 523 2nd Street North. Alberts say if all goes well they hope to have their first service in the church Easter Sunday.