Dale Kern, pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, said when they started the design process for the new $2 million church building, they wanted a, “very visible Christian witness.”
But what form would it take?
“About 95% of our people would like a bell tower, 95 feet high, with a cross on top, just like we had in the 1898 church,” one of three church buildings on the property, he said.
“That wasn’t going to happen.”
“So, we have the mural out front, of the ascending, teaching Christ. It’s a brick mural”
The mural is done, relief style, in brick, by a Nebraska firm.
“We intentionally had His hands as the focal point, but they’re not going up, they’re reaching out, so He is ascending. Down below, we have people, children as well, and the baskets of fish, representing the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000,” he said.
Located at the intersection of St. Rt. 6 and U.S. 6, south of Archbold, the new church features items that were handcrafted by members of the congregation.
David Arnos, rural Stryker, built the Altar furniture; the altar, the pulpit, the lectern, and the baptismal font.
Sue Hurst, a member of the congregation and Archbold High School art teacher, designed the stained glass windows for the sanctuary.
“She designed them, and she and other people are assembling them.
“Different people she trained made the crosses at the top of each window. Each window has a different cross, made by different teams. Start to finish, the windows will be original here,”
Only a couple windows have stained glass now, but in the future, all will have colorful, h and-made glass installed.
Dedication, Open House
There will be a public dedication worship service Sunday, Sept. 30, at 10:30 am with an open house from 1 pm-4 pm.
The congregation held a Move Sunday service on Sept. 16, “where we started in the old church, we decommissioned it for regular worship, then we walked over (to the new church) There is seating for 300 in singing a medley of hymns, with a trumpeter in the bell tower, keeping us in tune. That went over quite well.
“Then we opened this facility.”
The trumpeter was Micah Grime, an AHS senior and a member of the school band.
Essentially an addition to the Church’s 1998 Family Center building, the new structure, which includes the sanctuary, has about 12,000 square feet, with a 10,000 square foot basement, for utilities and storage.
There are two other rooms, a conference room, and a small chapel, which contains some of the hangings from the 1898 church.
There is a combination organ; part of the organ’s voice comes from pipes, while part is electronic. permanent pews, plus room for another 200 chairs. In the old church, “we were really maxed out at 250.”
Kern said to finance the project, “We have a $500,000 loan. The rest is covered. Before we really started, we had threequarters of the cost in hand.
The Three Churches
Of the three churches on the property, the oldest is an 1861 church, which is today used as a youth room. It’s connected to the back, or north end of the second, 1898 church.
Many love the 1898 building.
“We like to call it the white frame church by the side of the road,” Kern said.
“It’s been a landmark for over 100 years, and we have not talked about what we’re going to do with it.”