The story of Peace Lutheran Church began on April 25, 1982. Ascension (ALC) and Alleluia! Lutheran Church (AELC) joined together as Peace Lutheran Church. The name was chosen by the congregation reflecting their desire to be instrumental in uniting two Christian churches, each with its own cultures and traditions.
THE REVEREND WILLIAM BOYS
The Rev. William Boys became Peace’s first pastor, faithfully serving the church for the next 16 years (1982-1998). He and his wife Ruth, were a significant factor in the successful merging of these two congregations. 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 for the nest thirty years. 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 of the choir members warming up for the Good Friday service. At that time, the original building was small and unimpressive, but had a very tall steel beam white cross in the parking lot in front of it. This was a local landmark. The wind bent the cross over so that about six feet from the ground it was horizontal. The church temporarily was known in the local press as the “church of the bent cross.
In April of 1987 Peace celebrated its fifth anniversary as a congregation. That fall on Thanksgiving weekend, a number of members of the congregation spent their extended weekend renovating the chancel of the church
Ground was broken on January 31, 1988, for a narthex and a new Sunday School addition. The front doors originally opened directly into the sanctuary and 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 Sundays 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. 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 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.
The tenth anniversary of the congregation was celebrated in April, 1991, 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 mission. Many other banners have come in a steady stream from the creative minds and skillful hands of Peace members, some for the special occasions or seasons and others for the general enhancement of the worship space, such as the five PEACW banners which have become a traditional part of the interior decoration.
THE REVEREND JIM KRONINGER
In April of 1999, the Reverend Jim Kroninger (1999-2007) was installed as Peace’s second pastor. Thus, began the second chapter in the life of Peace.
THE BUILDING EXPANDS
While the “church house” served the needs of the church for a short duration, 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. On August 3, 2006, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for new classrooms and an 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 have 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
On February 1, 2010, the Reverend Ralph Kirkpatrick (2010-2019) was installed as Peace’s third pastor. During his time of service, the Reverend Ingrid Schalk (2014-2016) was called to a part-time two year term ministry as an Associate Pastor.
The church sanctuary was in much need of major renovations. Many church members were involved in the complete renewal of the worship area during 2012-2013. Paint, new flooring, stone on the front wall, opening up the north wall to expand, and building a new expanded platform were all undertaken by members of the congregation. New chancel furniture which incorporated wood from the old furniture was built by Gary and Marlene Klukken. Amy Anderson did the beautiful tile mosaic of the risen Christ to adorn the front wall of the Chancel area. On April 14, 2013, dedication of the newly renovated sanctuary was held.
In 2015, Marlene Klukken who had served for 33 years in varying capacities as organist, choir director, music director retired. Emily Anderson was hired as choir director. Peggy Ransom continued as church pianist, a role that she has served in varying capacities since 1997. Upon Emily’s resignation in 2018, Dr. Bernardo Miethe was hired as choir director and he served until May of 2020.
Through the years Peace has developed as a warm, welcoming church which serve for many members as family. There is a strong feeling of the importance of the kingdom of God being here on earth and that serving our fellow man is an important part of the way God’s love and saving grace is shared with both those inside and outside the church. Worship and is valued and an important part of church life with music being an integral part of the way we worship. Fellowship, Bible study, and service opportunities all provide ways that members can connect with each other.
NOW IN THE TIME OF COVID
As this history is being updated, the impact of COVID has changed many of the ways that Peace is in ministry. Some of the changes may be permanent, but others facets of church life will resume, perhaps in modified and improved ways
The Reverend Stephen Friedrich
It is with much joy and thanksgiving that Peace welcomed Pastor Stephen Friedrich as our current pastor in June of 2021. Under his ministry Peace can look forward to continuing the areas of ministry with which we have been charged, while at the same time continuing to adjust to impact of COVID on all church.
To be continued…