New Lutheran church opens near Callaway
CALLAWAY -- Though it had been discussed for several years, it wasn't until the latter months of 2008 that the congregations of Immanuel Lutheran in Callaway and Trinity Lutheran in Ogema made an official decision to merge and form a single church.
Rev. Del Stohs, who was pastor of both congregations, said they were each facing some challenges with their aging church facilities such as handicap accessibility, rising heating costs and the need to enlarge their entryways.
"Do you remodel, or build?" was the question that the congregations faced.
The solution that they came up with was to build a single church, under a new name: Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church.
Rather than locating the new church in either Ogema or Callaway, a site was chosen just north of Callaway, at the junction of Highway 59 and Becker County Road 14.
"We broke ground in July of 2009," said Stohs.
And now, a little over a year later, the new church is all but finished.
"We held our first service here last Sunday (Sept. 26)," said church member Mary Richards on Thursday, as she was busy preparing table decorations for a luncheon to be held after Beautiful Savior's first funeral, which was held Friday.
The church supper that was held after the Sept. 26 service was open to the public, and nearly 400 people came, Richards said.
Neither Immanuel nor Trinity would have been able to hold a function that large in the past, Stohs said, because they simply would not have had room.
The official dedication for the new Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church will be held next Sunday, Oct. 10, at 2 p.m. -- after which Stohs will be officially installed as its pastor.
"I was the pastor of two churches that are no more," Stohs explained. "This will make it official."
Though the new church's official motto is "To God Be the Glory," it might just as well be "waste not, want not."
Though some of the furnishings are new, most have been taken from the Immanuel and Trinity churches, Stohs explained -- and the old church buildings have been sold.
The former Trinity Lutheran building in Ogema has been "re-purposed" as a private residence, while the Immanuel Lutheran building in Callaway may eventually become a thrift store.
The wooden pews in the sanctuary come from both churches, as do the light fixtures overhead, embossed with symbols of the cross, said Stohs.
While many of the appliances and fixtures in Beautiful Savior's kitchen are new, the tables and chairs in the fellowship hall are not.
The two pianos were taken from Immanuel and Trinity, while a new organ was installed with donations from the congregation, said Stohs.
The main altar in the sanctuary comes from Trinity Lutheran, while the stained glass windows come from Immanuel, he added.
Two more stained glass windows will eventually be installed in the main entry -- one from Immanuel, and one from Trinity. A third stained glass window will also be installed over the top of the doorway, commemorating "who we are today -- Beautiful Savior," said Stohs.
Though contractors handled most of the basic construction, like building the shell, installation of electricity and plumbing, etc., a lot of volunteer labor from congregation members also went into the construction, Stohs said.
"We've had a lot of donations and support, not only financially, but in prayers," he added.
Everything in the church is now handicap accessible, built at ground level, and a more energy efficient, geothermal heating system was installed, to heat the building from the ground up.
Another reason why the two churches decided to combine, Stohs said, was for the education of their children: The new church has four classrooms, which will be used for Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Confirmation classes as well as for Bible studies and other church activities.
Not everything in the church will be complete in time for the dedication, however.
"We're still a work in progress," said Stohs.
The dedication will begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 10, followed by Stohs' installation as pastor.
"There will be a fellowship afterwards -- and that means food!" Stohs added.