JACKSON CENTER — A cornerstone of the Jackson Center community is spending 2022 celebrating a century of grace in God.
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church first laid its roots in the Jackson Center community on March 23, 1922, when it was organized with just over 100 charter members. Three months later during the first ceremonies of the church held June 25, 1922, Raymond E. Springer was installed as the first pastor. Members voted in September to purchase property on the corner of North Main and North Streets for the construction of a church to call their own; much of the labor and resources was supplied by members, and on June 15, 1924, the church held dedication ceremonies to a full house, with many gathered outside because of the crowd.
As the congregation grew, so did the realization that a new church would be needed to accommodate it. With architects determining that it wasn’t feasible to build an extension on the existing building, a new building was constructed at 607 S. Main St., where it opened its doors on April 28, 1958 and has remained since.
One hundred years and over 600 members after the church was organized, Grace Lutheran continues its tradition of offering fellowship to the community through a year-long celebration designed to reflect on the past century, and look toward the next 100 years.
Part of that century of celebration of God and fellowship within the community has been because of the persistence of the congregation that, for many current members, extends back several generations. The church has made it through tribulations such as the Great Depression and even the COVID pandemic due to the people of the church banding together to find solutions to the challenges they face, with the goal of continuing their worship. In years past, it’s come in the form of canvassing for church needs, providing lumber and gravel and man hours to build the current church. In more recent years, it’s been developing outdoor services during the warmer months, as well as over radio so that the congregation could still gather when the church doors were closed and a six foot distance had to be maintained. Even with regulations lifted, both outdoor services and the radio broadcast are offered to those wishing to celebrate and share in God’s grace.
“I think that reinforces how important our faith is to us; we want to preserve what we believe so strongly in,” Anniversary Committee member Kathy Klopfenstein said.
Each month in 2022, Grace Lutheran is celebrating its centennial with different programs and activities for members of the church as well as the surrounding community. On Sunday, May 15, following Sunday Service, everyone is invited to join the congregation in celebrating Grace Lutheran’s history with past pastors that have served at Grace Lutheran. Additionally, long-time church members Raymond “Dick” Regula and Euanna Herndon will be recognized.
For current Pastors Bert and Shelly Schultz, being part of that history and legacy of pastors and of Grace Lutheran is a blessing.
“We feel blessed to be part of this and to recognize that we are part of it; to be caretakers of the ministry and serve the Lord and the people, but recognize where our call is also to leave it in great shape for the next pastor,” Bert said. “We’re both to serve faithfully and are blessed to be here with the people and to also be setting the table for who comes next.”
At the May 15 event, the anniversary committee will also be opening a time capsule that was first filled with a Bible, a Lutheran hymn book, a brief history of Grace congregation and some coins in 1924 and placed behind the first church’s cornerstone, before being opened and filled again with items and momentos in 1957. Both times, the capsule was placed behind the cornerstone of the church. At the May 15 event, after the items inside the capsule are looked over and reflected upon, the committee and congregation will place their own mementos in the capsule and re-seal it for a future congregation to reflect on in years to come.
“We invite anyone and everyone to come and see and celebrate the Lord’s blessing with us as we celebrate 100 years of God’s grace and look forward to another hundred,” Bert said.