The planning, design, and construction of the church was so amazing and extreme that only those of us who participated in the project can even vaguely understand. My desire is to reinforce the recognition of God’s hand in all aspects of this building.
The miracle of the faith of the congregation: The planning for the cost of the project included a huge amount of volunteer labor and an expenditure of around $2,000.000. Expressing this faith in God, the congregation voted to proceed with only 25% of the funds pledged and an indication of willingness to provide the needed labor. If either of those conditions was not met, construction was to be halted. We never had to stop construction for the entire time of the project.
The miracle of volunteer labor provided by the congregation. Because of a communication error the huge commitment of budgeted volunteer labor needed to be doubled to stay within budget. The congregation stepped up and provided what was needed. In total the number of volunteer hours donated exceeded 27,000 hours volunteered by church members, many over 55 years of age.
The miracle of God’s protection over the volunteers: For the huge number of 27,000 volunteer hours, there was only one accident that required a trip to the emergency room for minor stitches. There were several near misses of serious injury that I personally witnessed, and I saw each such situation prevented through God’s intervention.
I could list dozens of such miracles, but the biggest miracle of all is that this congregation was able to accomplish the impossible by individually and corporately following God’s direction.
For me, the most significant thing that happened throughout the building of the church was the bonding that took place in the process. Most of the construction of the building was done during a difficult season for our church, which made the connections among people in our congregation especially important.
One of the huge volunteer jobs during the construction was installing the stone inside and out, followed by the process of grouting between those stones. Many people helped with this, and my best memory is of the group that I was part of – Jan Bowles, Lori Lewis, Judy Jensen and me. We met at the church almost every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening plus Saturday mornings to lay the concrete in the cracks between stones and then followed a process to scrape of the excess to make an attractive finish. It was tedious work, but we thought that we got to be pretty good at it (ha-ha-ha – at least most of it is still hanging in there), plus we had a wonderful time cooperating and getting to know each other!
Putting up the subtle crosses of stone in the entryway. Enjoyed getting to know many people differently when working with them. Mike Lewis working on the stone, John Roghair keeping mud ready for us, Roger Rieck woodworking, Walter Mendenhall and Edna VanderWolde hanging sheetrock in the gym and Edna and I shingling. Too many more to mention.
I would like to introduce you to Dwayne and Alma Osborne. He was a retired janitor at Spirit Lake schools and she was a retired cook at the school.
Each day when the roof was on and the rooms were being framed and sheetrocked, he would be there to sweep the floors so we did not trip. She would bring goodies, and I promise they were GOODies every day. They would converse with us and keep us smiling. I will never forget what they meant to each other and every worker that helped with the church. They would never tell you their story as humility was another one of their assets along with love, caring, hard work, faith, joy, kindness, and humor.
In the mid-1990 the church member averaged around 65 years of age.
Looked into installing an elevator in the old building but the cost was too high.
Members voted to build a new building.
A land search committee was formed and this spot was purchased.
The building design was done by all members. Large sheet of paper was put on the fellowship hall walls. People wrote down space requirements and ideas. A floor design was made from these inputs. A friend of the church while in the hospital came up with the idea to bringing the two wings around in the shape of ”GODS OUT REACHED ARMS”. This friend has since passed.
Two fund raising campaigns raised 1.8 million from around 200 giving units in cash and pledges.
Session created a committee called THE BUILDING STEERING COMMITTEE to oversee the building of the new church. It consisted of around 12 members, the pastor and building design consultant. This committee created several subcommittees to research and bring back suggestions on different areas of the building.
Ground was broken in the spring of 1997.
The building was built by over 90% volunteer labor and 1000’s of hours over a three year period.
In October of 2000 the members marched from the old building to the new building bringing the items from the communion table and first service was held.
I remember one member who was in his late 80’s came out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and cleaned the building floor; we called him our safety officer. Duane took home scrap of oak wood and built the wagon that is now the narthex. This wagon was used to carry the items from the communion table to the new church.
I remember all the great treats that were always available for the volunteers.
Who was the first couple to be married in the new church after it was completed?
Which is true?
There was a dump truck load of sand on the sanctuary floor or there is a 6000lb steel cage holding the sanctuary roof up?
The steel cage was designed by a retired steel structural engineer, who was a member, using only a pencil and a one foot ruler. He said “build this, it will work.”
All the mortaring was done by four ladies using 40lb bags of mortar.
One Saturday, all children that wanted to insulated the fellowship hall.
Many people signed small rocks that were placed in the concrete under the portico.
Before the last piece of oak was used in the balcony Jackie and I sighed and dated it on the back side.
In about 2005 the mortgage was burnt.
There was a saying among the volunteers; If we build it they will come.
In 2003 Pastor Clint was installed as our new pastor.
In 2013 Pastor Michael was installed.
The rest is history:
The membership has grown and the average membership age has dropped.
Thanks be to GOD.