SCENIC, S.D. (AP) — A Philippines-based church that bought up the small South Dakota town of Scenic four years ago has started holding services there.

Minister Jose Ventilacion tells the Rapid City Journal services are held in the Scenic Community Hall on Thursdays and Sundays. He says the church thought it best to start by "reaching out to people and build from there."

The Iglesia ni Cristo church effectively bought the town from a longtime resident for about $700,000 four years ago. The church didn't divulge its plans, and that created some unease in the area.

Ventilacion arrived in South Dakota in April. He says the church wants to build a house of worship, but needs to build its membership first. The church plans a question-and-answer session Friday at a Rapid City hotel.

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