Remodeled faith

Saturday, July 28, 2007
The green and orange panel windows, shown here before the building was refurbished, are being replaced with stained-glass Biblical scenes. (Submitted photo)

Members of Trinity Lutheran Church at Egypt Mills have something to celebrate and a refurbished place in which to do it.

Trinity Lutheran Church at Egypt Mills, which was built in 1892, was recently refurbished. (Fred Lynch)

On Jan. 14, the congregation held its last service in the sanctuary the way it used to be. They worshipped in the fellowship hall while scaffolding and ladders temporarily replaced the wooden pews. The pews were sent to a Poplar Bluff, Mo., business where they were stripped, cleaned, then restained and varnished. There's a new summer kitchen in the back of the education building.

The work is now done. The historic church has a floor newly stabilized with beams in the basement, new paint, lighting, hardwood flooring, carpet and stained-glass windows to replace old windows that had green and orange panels. Wilma Stratton is making the stained-glass windows -- several of which are installed already -- based on Biblical themes, said Girada Vines, a member of the church building committee. Already installed are brilliantly colored scenes of Noah's ark and Jacob's ladder. Soon to replace clear glass windows will be scenes of the Creation, the Flood, Moses bringing the Ten Commandments, the Exodus of the Jews, Jesus's baptism, Jesus blessing the children and the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

During the refurbishing process, workers uncovered a window in the entry foyer that Vines said is perfectly shaped for the final stained-glass window: the Last Supper.

"Jacob's Ladder" is one of the new stained-glass windows already installed at Trinity Lutheran Church at Egypt Mills. (Fred Lynch)

The picturesque white church building with a towering steeple was built in 1892 when the congregation separated from Hanover Lutheran Church, which first formed in 1867. Since then, it has undergone some changes, maintenance, improvements and additions throughout the years -- keeping a delicate balance between history and modern amenities.

According to some history of the church Vines provided from church records, the original Hanover church relocated to the top of a hill in Egypt Mills in February 1879 because of flooding from nearby Big Flora Creek. The congregation built a church 50 feet long and 28 feet wide, with no chancel or tower. It cost $724.65, most of which was donated by members. In 1892 the church split from Hanover and became Trinity Lutheran Church, calling its first pastor, the Rev. P.G. Hoeckel. He received $400 a year, a free house, free feed for his livestock, and -- as was the custom at the time -- served as a schoolteacher in addition to his pastoral duties.

The interior of Trinity Lutheran Church at Egypt Mills has been refurbished. (Fred Lynch)

Over the years, the members built a tower and installed a bell, then built a Sunday school building, which remains on the grounds, although it has been moved to make room for the church's current education building. It has served as a Sunday school and as a school.

As time passed, English services replaced German, the members added a chancel, raised the building and dug a basement under it, added electricity and a furnace. Bathrooms and air conditioning have been installed, as well as insulation, ceiling fans and outdoor siding.

Through the years, families in the church have seen to its well-being, both as a building and as a community of believers. "We are a community," said the Rev. Kevin Olson, pastor of Trinity since 2004. "If somebody needs something everybody pulls together. That's always been a part of the history of the church."

The scaffolding is gone, the walls are freshly painted, and the pews have a new sheen to them. Worship services are once again held in the sanctuary. One goal is completed, but the major goal remains.

"Our goal is to bring honor and praise to God," Olson said. "This building is just a tool, it's just a part of our worship. What unites us all together is Christ. That's what makes a church, Jesus himself."

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