It was 150 years in the making.
After four years of planning, St. Paul's Lutheran Church wrapped its year-long 150th anniversary celebration with a banquet and church service this past weekend.
On Saturday, more than 300 current and former church members, area pastors and community members gathered for the banquet in the Rybin Building at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
Attendees participated in St. Paul's trivia and watched video presentations, which highlighted the church's history and celebrated the church today.
Descendants of original founders gave personal stories of their ancestors and the hardships they faced as they homesteaded here, originally in the area of Fontanelle.
“Homes were made of whatever was in great supply,” Hal Heybrock said. “Around here that meant cottonwood. After drying in the sun, gaps formed between the logs. That provided good ventilation in the summer, but bitter drafts and indoor snow drifts in the winter. Roofs warped so rain came flowing in. The floor was usually dirt, sometimes wood planks. Planks would warp and gape, providing hiding places for all sorts of varmints.”
Tim Stork offered some of his family stories.
“This is only a small portion of what we should know about these ancestors of ours and the lives that they lived,” he said. “What we don’t know is the greater part. No one kept a diary in those early days and no one asked many questions. When asked about this, my Grandpa Albert Stork said, 'Grandfather did not talk much about their early life and we were not smart enough to ask them.' This is a statement that could apply to all of us.”
Arlington native and Omaha radio personality Jeff Greunke served as master of ceremonies for the event.
On Sunday, church members gathered for a worship service that celebrated God's grace and provision over 150 years. They remembered those who came before, while being encouraged to take their faith into the world.
An overflow crowd of 423 people attended the service, in which former St. Paul's Pastor Dennis Maaske preached. Maaske served at St. Paul's in the 1980s.
The refurbished sanctuary, which included new pews to replace those destroyed during the March flood, fellowship hall and entry areas were dedicated.
Following the service, a group congregation photo was taken.