The story of Peace Lutheran Church began on April 25, 1982. Ascension and Alleluia! Lutheran Churches joined together as Peace Lutheran Church. The name was chosen by the congregation reflecting their desire to be instrumental in bringing “Peace” to our community.
THE REVEREND WILLIAM BOYS
The Rev. William Boys became Peace’s first pastor, faithfully serving the church for the next 17 years. He and his wife, Ruth, were a significant factor in the successful merging of these two congregations. Meanwhile the building also continued to serve the congregation well and with two major additions over the years is still the home of the Peace congregation and gathering place of numerous community groups. Shortly after the founding of Peace, the Adult Choir was formed with Marlene Klukken directing. The next year the first Christmas cantata was performed with performances each year since that time. The music program continues to provide an important element in worship, in outreach, and in the development of musicians in the church.
THE CHURCH OF THE BENT CROSS
Good Friday, April 5, 1985 was a dark and stormy night. A powerful straight line wind struck the church, blowing out electrical transformers, slamming open the church doors, lifting the roof slightly, and sandblasting every car in the parking lot. Peace’s tall white steel cross, located in the parking lot, was also hit by the storm, bending it down to within six feet of the ground (barely clearing the car underneath it!). The church became known in the local press as “the Church of the Bent Cross.”
Peace celebrated its fifth anniversary as a congregation on April 25, 1987. The fifth anniversary celebration continued on Thanksgiving weekend when members of the congregation spent their extended weekend renovating the chancel of the church and construction of an altar cross from the original altar cross.
Ground was broken on January 31, 1988 for a narthex and a new Sunday School addition. The original church building had no narthex. The front doors opened directly into the sanctuary with the attendant weather and noise, and any social interactions had to take place right in the worship space. Sunday School classes were conducted in separate areas of the sanctuary and in small side rooms behind folding doors. The resulting cacophony was not conducive to teaching, learning or preparing for a worship service. The new addition was greeted with real joy by the congregation for now there was a new entrance beneath a tower topped with a part of the original steel cross, a front elevation that actually looked like a church, a narthex for fellowship, three new Sunday school classrooms (plus renovations which added two more), a small assembly room, enlarged bathrooms and a large nursery. The church was growing and the physical plant reflected the growth.
As the church grew, more Sunday school space was needed for both children and adults. Additionally, the very small pastor’s office in the church was not adequate, nor was there space for a much needed church secretary. The church property, while in an excellent location on Cedar Bluff Road, was too small to consider expansion and there were ongoing discussions about solutions, including moving somewhere else. In November 1991, the house behind the church was put on the market. As soon as this was known, the Council met and called a special congregational meeting where it was decided to purchase the property. Thus, the house behind the church, designated the “church house,” became the home for the adult education classes, the youth group, the pastor’s office and the new secretary’s office. It also served as a fellowship space for church gatherings. Over the ensuing years, numerous renovations were made to make the space more usable.
The tenth anniversary of the congregation was celebrated in April 1992, with the unveiling of a new banner “Within these walls, the vision; Beyond, the mission.” While this was not the first banner created by Peace members for the church, nor has it been the last, it is one which captured a shared sense of Peace’s goal. Many other banners have come in a steady stream from the creative minds and skillful hands of Peace members, some for special occasions or seasons and others for the general enhancement of the worship space, such as the five PEACE banners which have become a traditional part of the interior decoration.
In 1994, the used Hammond organ that had provided so much good service to the congregation, finally played its last struggling chords. Music had been very important to the congregation over the years, and while a used grand piano had been purchased and was thoroughly enjoyed by all, the loss of the organ was felt to be serious. A number of possibilities were considered, including the fantasy of a pipe organ, before the current Allen organ was chosen. Dedication Sunday, June 5, 1994, was highlighted with a wonderful organ concert presented by our church organist, Sharon Kangas.
THE REVEREND JIM KRONINGER
In April of 1999, the Reverend Jim Kroninger was installed as Peace’s second pastor. Thus, began the second chapter in the life of Peace. Within a year or so, discussions began around the topic of adding to the church building. Sunday school space was inadequate and the church house was not a particularly useful space for program needs.
Peace celebrated its twentieth anniversary in April 2002 with a unique challenge to its members. Using the parable of the Talents, any member who desired could get twenty dollars from the church to keep and/or multiply, with the total being returned in a special offering later that summer. As one can imagine, there were many lessons learned, relationships built and least important, money was earned and offered.
THE BUILDING EXPANDS
Years after beginning discussions about building a new addition to the church, the opportunity to make those discussions a reality came to fruition. The church house property was sold to Knox County Schools with the provision that Peace would have the use of the parking lot that would be built there. On August 3, 2006, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new classroom and office addition. The new addition was dedicated on April 15, 2007. The addition provided pastor and secretary offices, ample classroom spaces, bathrooms and a youth room with a kitchen.
After getting moved into the new addition, the 1988 addition became the focus of extensive renovation, both inside and out. Beginning in 2007 and continuing throughout 2008, church members committed considerable time, skills and money to having the roof replaced, replacing all the siding, putting in new windows, removing classroom walls and ceilings, renovating the nursery and creating a large fellowship hall with a new kitchen.
THE REVEREND RALPH KIRKPATRICK
The Reverend Ralph Kirkpatrick was installed as Peace’s third pastor on February 1, 2010. Pastor Kirkpatrick has raised the congregation’s awareness of important social issues, strengthened the church’s outreach, and has been instrumental in bringing the Via de Cristo retreat ministry to Peace.
Pastor Kirkpatrick continues to build upon our sense of being children of God’s story and has worked to build a strong adult education. Bible study in the Life of Peace is a weekly fixture in the life of Peace Lutheran. Also part of our adult study is seeing ourselves as Lutheran Christians.
THE REVEREND INGRID SCHALK
After prayerful discernment by the congregation, Peace took a step of faith and the Reverend Ingrid Schalk was called to a 2 year term ministry as Peace’s Associate Pastor in 2014. Pastor Schalk was installed on May 3, 2014. Pastor Schalk brought to Peace’s ministry her wonderful giftedness with music. This gift was shared with the congregation as she guided congregational life in worship.
Part of that guidance, was the task of find a replacement for Peace’s long time Music/Choir Director, Marlene Klukken at her retirement. Marlene had been the choir director for nearly 30 years and it be clear she could never be replaced. And So, God blessed Peace with Emily Anderson as the new Choir Director.
In February of 2016 Pastor Schalk’s term called ended. We wished her a fond farewell knowing during her time at Peace we were a better congregation.
FUTURE . . .
The future is always changing, and Peace continues to adapt. Peace continues strong in ministry and listening for the voice of God to call.