There is a popular English proverb that tells us “from little acorns do mighty oaks grow.”
They could be talking about the congregation of Good Shepherd Lutheran Brethren Church.
Back in 1987 the congregation took a small but significant step by purchasing a Chinese restaurant called “The Dragon” on Western Avenue and turning it into a house of worship. They had been meeting for Sunday services in the auditorium at the Fergus Falls Community College until taking that step.
“Two years ago in the summer of 2018 we finished a major renovation. We added a major addition that was basically three or four times of the old building. Right now what we are doing is renovating that original part. It used to be our entire building. Now we are turning it into a fellowship hall, expanded nursery and kitchen,” Associate Rev. Dale Hexum said.
The timing of the latest renovation work is not happening by chance. While many governments, schools, businesses, groups and organizations have reason to bewail the COVID-19 pandemic, it has presented the members of Good Shepherd an opportunity.
“In a sense COVID has made this the perfect time to do this because at this time we don’t really need a fellowship hall,” Hexum said. “We don’t need a kitchen because we’re not preparing and serving meals here. We took this opportunity to do it because we are able to do many of the things that would normally take place. It was always the next step in our plan, we were just not sure when we were going to do it. We decided this was as good a time as any.”
Much of the renovation work now going on is being carried out by Good Shepherd members.
“There is a set of eight to 10 volunteers that have done a lot of the work,” Hexum said.
Major parts of the work have been done by subcontractors according to Hexum with 10 to 12 visiting the job site at different times. Work began in August and before spring Good Shepherd hopes to have all the work completed.
Hexum said the size of the present structure is around 24,000 square feet - nearly four times the original church.
“When we were in the old part we were definitely feeling the space crunch,” Hexum said.
The addition that went up in 2018 allowed for a new sanctuary, a new foyer and children and youth areas,” Hexum said.
Hexum has been a member of Good Shepherd for 25 years and has served as an associate pastor for the last eight. Prior to last spring’s COVID-19 shutdown Good Shepherd had a Sunday service attendance in the neighborhood of 180.
“One thing that we try to stress is that it’s not just a building project or a renovation project, it’s a mission project. We want this part of our facility to be used in order to reach our community for Christ, to be a blessing to the community.”
Good Shepherd has been holding indoor services since summer when churches were allowed to open again.
“We ask all people to follow the state guidelines,” Hexum said. “All I have to say is that we are keeping track of the guidelines and asking people to follow them.”