BAXTER -- A few years back, a handful of pastors from the local Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations were having a "little lunch" together when the idea surfaced.
"Baxter is growing so quickly. I wonder if we should try to start a new Lutheran church there?" A few more lunches, some council meetings and a lot of prayer, energy and faith later, that church was started as a shared mission work by those same local churches, the Heartland Conference, the Northeastern Minnesota Synod and the whole ELCA.
Lord of Life Lutheran held its first worship service at Baxter Elementary School in April of 1990. By February 1991, enough people had become involved to officially charter the congregation, 127 members.
During those early days the sister churches shared facilities, equipment and money, and even transferred members to help Lord of Life get going. The Lord of Life congregation was able, with help from the larger church, to complete its first facility by December 1994. An addition was built in the fall of 1999.
Lord of Life Lutheran will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its incorporation as a congregation at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Today, membership exceeds 1,000 with an average worship attendance of almost 400. Roughly 42 percent of the membership was unchurched before joining, 33 percent was new in town and the balance transferred from membership in sister churches.
That first "lunch conversation" proved fruitful and with the Lord's blessing and empowerment, the congregation took root.
In thanksgiving to God and in appreciation to all of the partner congregations and individuals who have walked together with them during these past 10 years, Lord of Life Lutheran is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its incorporation as a congregation at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The event will include a festive service of celebration and thanksgiving, including lots of music, Bishop Peter Strommen of Duluth preaching, a processional of conference congregations, Holy Communion and a light supper to follow.
Congregations represented at the event will include First Lutheran, Brainerd, established in 1882, and Light of the Cross Lutheran, Garrison, established just a couple of years ago. Many of the Heartland Conference's other 30-plus congregations will show their unity in Christ by participating that day.
The offering for the event will be given to Light of the Cross and to Bethany Lutheran, Onamia, as the conference continues to share in mission together beyond having helped to start Lord of Life 10 years ago.
The public is invited to attend this event, with worship and "a little lunch" to follow.
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