St. Paul’s celebrates past and future for 125th yearPublished 11:08am Thursday, July 25, 2013
Each Sunday, parishioners at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in East Friberg Township walk past a worn chalice, the first the church used, as they enter to worship. It’s a reminder of where they’ve come from and where they are going.
For 125 years, St. Paul’s has brought families together from around the rural Fergus Falls area. This weekend, they will celebrate their long tradition since first organizing in 1888 with a 125th anniversary celebration. They will also celebrate the many changes, from first meeting in a schoolhouse to having services in German, that the church congregation has witnessed over the years.
“Oh, there’s been lots of changes,” said church elder Duane Mavis, who has been a member his entire life.
Services used to be held in the schoolhouse building that is now the Friberg town hall. A building was purchased and moved to its current location in 1951, where the church already had a cemetery.
Mavis said he still remembers the days when men and women sat on different sides of the aisle during services. Since 1888, the church has been served by 19 pastors, 5 of which are still living, and has grown to serve its current number of 195 baptized members.
For Mavis, the tight-knit and historic church community has given him a place to reflect and worship with others in faith.
“It’s pretty much community here,” Mavis said. “It’s almost like a family I guess. If someone needs help we’ll pitch in and give help. It’s a really caring church.”
Through all the history, however, new changes have kept the church up to date. With several updates around the front lawn of the church, it has survived the wear of time, including a fire in 1997, and has kept a fresh look. With technology integrated into weekend services, modern PA systems and hymns projected at the head of the church, the congregation has stayed current.
“This is really a progressive congregation with a lot of younger people and they’ve kept up with the time,” said Rev. Noel Herr, pastor at the church for the past four years. “It’s kind of a mix. Our worship is a mixture of traditional and modern ways of worshiping.”
Through all the changes and the long history of the church, the message of Christ and the importance of God’s word through the Bible has remained important. The church selected Psalm 100:5 to reflect on their years of worship together: For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
“I think that’s true in our congregation. We have that sense throughout all our generations,” Herr said. “No matter how old a congregation gets, they always hold up Christ’s word and God’s love for them will never change.”
On Saturday, there will be a 7:30 p.m. service with the Rev. Roger Lange as the guest speaker with desert to follow..
On Sunday, there will be a 10:30 a.m. service with the Rev. Robert Nowak as the guest speaker. At noon, a pork loin dinner will be served with a free-will offering. Tents outside will be available for additional seating.
Both services and fellowship are open to the public.