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Four area churches merge into United Lutheran Church


Fri, Jul 11th, 2003
Posted in Features

We are four rural congregations joining together through the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer to share Godís loving ministry. We will teach and invite others while encouraging and equipping Godís children to grow in Christian faith.

-United Lutheran Churches mission statement-

Arendahl, Grace, North Prairie and Pilot Mound have decided to merge into one unit called United Lutheran Church. Communities need not fear that their local church might close. Although they are joining together, each church will still remain open. All four will share two pastors so that each church will have services every Sunday and occasionally on Saturday.

This isnít exactly a new and hasty idea. The congregations have been working on uniting for the past two years. The churches are small and by coming together they hope to provide more opportunities for their parishioners. Sunday school events as well as separate Bible studies for men and women are just a few of the functions they plan to organize.

When it comes to making decisions for United Lutheran, each congregation votes on proposed ideas. Three delegates from each church meet to discuss the ideas. If questions arise, the matter is brought back to each church council and then voted on.

"Everything has to pass each church," states parishioner and former county commissioner Don Boyum.

The Southeast District is very excited about the union because itís the first in the area to try this approach. Other churches are observing to see how it will work out for the "Four Point" church. Instead of closing churches and asking congregations to go to one church, this provides a convenient and cost effective way to keep all churches open for worship. Some may be skeptical, but everything seems to be working out for the better. "Itís been really going good," comments Boyum.

Two experienced ministers will be helping the United Lutheran Church in its transition. Ron and Janet Warnes were pastors for six years at another four point church in northwestern Minnesota. The couple attended Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary and both have also served as missionaries and hospital chaplains.

Ron Warnes grew up in the Hastings/Minneapolis area and has a B.S. in Agriculture Economics. He was ordained in 1992 and has served on numerous community and synod committees. Janet Warnes grew up in Tanzania East Africa and has been to 52 countries. She has a B.A. in Education and is a published author. She has also served at quite a few youth retreats. The couple has been married for fifteen years and has an eight-year- old daughter Alisa. They enjoy the area and the people in it.

"Weíve received a very warm and hardy welcome from the four churches of United Lutheran", says Janet Warnes. "Anyone is welcome to stop by and worship at Arendahl, Grace, North Prairie or Pilot Mound."

The installation will occur at North Prairie Church, July 20th at 1:30 p.m.

Bishop Harold Usgaard will be officiating at the installation.

The Four Point parish choir will also perform.

Lunch will be served by the Four Point WELCA following the installation.

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