It has been a walk in faith since April 16, 2015, for the congregation of Henrytown Lutheran Church of rural Canton, Minn., since a fire destroyed their beloved church.
As the congregation contemplated on where they would be able to hold worship services, they also needed to decide if they should rebuild their church. After discussing the matter as a congregation it was decided to move ahead with rebuilding.
The work to rebuild the church began on May 4, 2016, and less than nine months later, on January 29, 2017, the first worship service was held in the new Henrytown Lutheran Church, to the joy of the congregation.
On Sunday, June 11, 2017, Henrytown Lutheran Church hosted a Dedication Sunday, welcoming all to give thanks and praise God as the congregation looks forward to many years of worship and memorable events in the new church.
“Giving thanks to God, the congregation decided to rebuild — and only 21 months after the fire, with the support of so many parishioners, congregations, friends, and businesses from not only southeastern Minnesota but from around the country, we are now here in this place together — a new building, with a new purpose, with a new sense of God’s calling on our lives together as Henrytown Lutheran Church,” commented Pastor Dean Safe of Henrytown Lutheran Church in the Dedication Sunday church bulletin.
The Dedication Sunday included a morning and afternoon worship service along with special guests, musical entertainment, children’s games, a delicious meal and much more.
Mary Kay DuChene delivered a special message from the Southeastern Minnesota Synod during the morning worship service which was so well attended it was necessary to use the overflow area for seating. DuChene congratulated the congregation and said it is easy to “see new life God is creating here” at Henrytown Lutheran Church.
Following the morning worship service which included communion, a tasty hot meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, dinner roll, fruit salad and beverages were enjoyed by many congregation members and visitors.
Starting at 1 p.m. little ones gathered by the playground for children’s games and were ecstatic with the prizes they received. Lew “Bud” and Ellen Aasum entertained everyone with their music during this time as well.
A special piece of memorabilia was created as a small mural of a tree was set up for people to fill in as they stuck their thumbs into paint and marked their chosen spot on the mural. Jordyn Newgard, 14, was excited as she picked her spot and marked it with her thumbprint.
A treasured gift was presented to the congregation of Henrytown Lutheran Church from the congregation of Union Prairie Church in the form of a Norwegian Table Grace which was hand painted in rosemaling by Sara Tollefson, with the wood being donated by Norrin Storelee.
The Norwegian prayer translated to English says:
In Jesus’ name we take our place,
To eat and drink upon thy grace,
Thine the glory and ours the gain,
We take our food in Jesus’ name.
Prior to the beginning of the afternoon dedication, Pastor Safe stated, “There are quite a few thank you’s in order,” as he announced, “this day could not have happened without the help of so many people on the dedication committee, the members of Henrytown Lutheran Church and those who have donated from across the United States; their time and their talents and monetary investment,” which is so appreciated by the congregation of Henrytown Lutheran Church.
The building committee was recognized for their hard work and hours spent in designing the new church and fulfilling the needs of the congregation. Those who were on the building committee included Karen Bergey, Howard Coyle, Fay Garness, Butch Helgeson, Darrell McCabe, Rochelle Middendorf, Ben Stelpflug and Roman Yoder.
The building dedication service began at 2 p.m. and was also very well attended. Special guests included several former pastors of Henrytown Lutheran Church including Pastor O. Paul Hougen, Pastor Audree Catalano, Pastor Paul Thompson, Pastor Wayne Kendrick, Pastor Walter Wietzke and Pastor Wayne Hagen.
The new church is 6,260 square feet and is a pre-engineered steel building. The sanctuary has 2,100 square feet and the fellowship hall is 2,400 square feet. If necessary, the back wall can be opened up to accommodate another 150 people in the fellowship hall. The new church also includes a kitchen, handicapped-accessible restrooms, an office and storage areas.
Fourteen stained glass windows have been gifted to the congregation. As of now, 11 windows are located in the sanctuary and fellowship hall. Three more will soon be added to the fellowship area.
A beautiful “Jesus Knocks at the Door” stained glass window is displayed above the altar and is a replica of the altar painting that was destroyed in the fire.
Henrytown Lutheran Church has welcomed 18 new members recently, some of which are children, which brings to church’s membership to approximately 250 people, which is wonderful news as the congregation continues to grow.
The motto for Henrytown Lutheran Church is “Growing in Faith” and as the church’s Dedication Sunday was celebrated, you could see the faith in everyone growing a little more after all that they have been through and to come full circle worshiping in their new home.
Henrytown Lutheran Church is located at 36190 County 18, three miles north of Canton, Minn. Follow the church on Facebook at facebook.com/HenrytownLutheranChurch.