HOLSTEIN -- With hammers in their hands, and joy in their hearts, members and friends of Faith Lutheran Church in Holstein completed the interior demolition of their new church building at 113 N. Main St. and have started the construction phase.
Faith Lutheran Church bought the 3,750-square-foot building plus annex at auction on Jan. 29 for $10,300. The congregation closed on the sale with McGuire Auction Company on Feb. 24, just two months before they hope to move into their new building.
The congregation has been holding services at Lohff Schumann Memorial Community Center in Holstein since September 2010, and their goal is to hold their Easter services in their new church home.
The building was most recently the Cro's Nest restaurant and bar, and originally was constructed as a grocery store.
"Jesus said, in Matthew 18:20, 'Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them,' " said Pastor Jason Cooper. "Jesus doesn't care where we meet and worship. But people like a nice, welcoming home for their families. And this will be a nice, welcoming church home for all families to gather and worship, to learn God's word and do His work."
Each week for the past five months, members and friends of Faith have been gathering for worship, Bible Study and Sunday School at Lohff Schumann, sometimes on Sunday mornings, sometimes Saturday evenings, and since the first of the year, on Sunday evenings, depending on availability of the community room or gymnasium. Faith congregants said it's been a challenge to get the word out with the times and days changing. People have told them they wanted to come to their services, but they weren't sure when they were held.
Unlike a church with its own building, Faith members and friends bring in everything needed for worship each week -- communionware, hymnals, stained glass windows, keyboard, microphones, speakers -- in addition to the weekly fellowship suppers and accoutrements.
"The kitchen, tables and chairs are all there at the rec center, which is very nice, although we did have to bring in extra chairs one week to accommodate everybody," noted member Nancy Todd. "Everyone shares duties setting up and taking down, which has been wonderful, but still it will be so nice to have everything in one location and have a set time each week."
To meet the congregation's goal of holding Easter services in the new building, they have plenty more work ahead of them. Despite the long hours -- many logged after jobs and chores -- the mood is one of celebration and anticipation.
"It's a labor of love and you can feel that," said Todd. "We want to build a warm and welcoming environment where everyone can feel like they belong. And even though it's a big empty space with unfinished walls, it already feels that way here."
"Members and friends of Faith worked days and many nights to gut the building. A wall with a walk-in cooler separated the space, a kitchen was located along the south wall and restrooms were near the middle," explained Conover. "All of that is gone."
A leak had to be fixed in the roof on the metal shed which served as an annex on the alley side of the property. That space has been walled off with cement block, accessible by doors to the south and east.
"That space will be finished into classrooms and maybe a conference room this summer," said Joe Friedrichsen, one of the regular volunteers working on the building.
With Phase I complete, Phase II is under way: construction inside and out on the front, or east, three-fourths of the building. The walls are going up to create the sanctuary, narthex, pastor's office, kitchen, restrooms and two Sunday School rooms. The front fašade facelift will involve a larger, double-door entry, new windows and brick work.
Phase III will commence after spring planting season and will include two additional Sunday School rooms, a second office/conference room and finishing the two large storage rooms on the alley side of the property. Handicapped parking also will be created on the west side.
"Since many of our volunteers are farmers, we need to wait with Phase III until after spring field work is done," commented Friedrichsen, who farms south of Holstein.
The sanctuary will seat 170 and overflow will be available in the classrooms. The chancel furniture is being crafted by woodworkers from the congregation; chairs, tables, dishes and tableware were donated by members; and communionware, altar pieces and other items for the narthex, nave and chancel will come from member gifts and memorials.
Until their new church home is complete, Faith Lutheran welcomes all to worship with them on Sunday evenings at Lohff Schumann Memorial Community Center in Holstein, starting at 4:30 with a Simple Supper and Fellowship, 5 p.m. for Bible Study and Sunday School, and 6 p.m. for Worship. Faith will be holding an Open Arms Open House at the earliest possible opportunity, with dates and times to be announced in the Chronicle Times.
The city of Holstein is 129 years old, and this lot on Main Street, which was first purchased from a land company in 1882, has been known as many things and many names over the decades but never -- until now -- a church. If you're thinking, "They're turning that old building into a church? What are they thinking?" Well, you're probably not the only one.
Guess you could say it just takes a little Faith.