Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There Is A Season

This morning was the ending of an era for me and my extended family.


A country church in rural Minnesota was lifted from it's foundation and is currently in the process of being moved half an hour away from it's previous home...traveling at five miles an hour, electric poles, signs, and mailboxes being removed out of their place to allow the church to pass by...

This wasn't just any old church to us.


This was the church that my Mother, along with her five brothers and sisters, attended with my Grandpa and Grandma growing up.

The church where my Grandma played the organ.

The church where I recall so many Good Friday services when I was younger. Holding my candle in the dark sanctuary, hearing the pastor slamming the Bible at the conclusion of the service.

The church where my cousins, brothers, and myself were banished from the yearly ice cream social after tormenting our baby sitter...chasing her around with baseball bats and threatening to run away from home while we were under her care. ( I even stuck out my tongue at her when she threatened to spank me and told her, "You can't! You're not my Mom!"...and then she whopped me good!)

The church where the yearly Lutefisk dinner drew people from all across the countryside...and the church stunk for weeks afterward.

The church where my Grandpa and most recently my Grandma are now buried.


This morning I talked to my Dad while he was sitting in my Grandma's driveway - snapping pictures and recording videos as the church slowly crept by her home. Oh, how she would have loved to have been out there watching the entire thing with her other country neighbors. She would have had a coffee mug in hand, reminiscing about the years, the memories, the times that were had in that church.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was first built in 1888. In the 1960's the church membership topped out at around 150 different family units. The children's ministry, men's ministry, women's ministry, choir...all of them were booming and at full capacity. It was a thriving, lively church, attended by many families who lived dotted across the countryside.

As is true of much of rural America...people have moved, many groves of trees now stand abandoned, quiet...and so over the years the church membership had declined to almost none.

The church closed it's doors about a year ago, unable to afford to keep it open, and now it is being moved by another congregation to be used by them.

Seeing the pictures of it moving slowly down the highway is just a reminder to me of time.

A reminder of change.

It is very sad in a way...

Sad now to visit my Grandparent's grave and only see a graveyard in the middle of the vast prairie.

Sad to see my aunts, uncles, and Mother having to say goodbye to that large chapter of their lives, to see them reliving the memories, the stories, the tales...

Sad to be reminded that not only is a church being moved...but just another reminder that my Grandmother is no longer with us...

As my Dad said today in the video that he shot, "Goodbye Good Shepherd."


If my parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins read this - I would love for you to leave a comment on this post if you are able. Leave a memory or a story about an experience you had in this church. It would be nice to document it in some way.


  1. When I think of Good Shepherd, I first think of Grandma. Oh, how I miss her! I have fond memories of sitting behind her on the pew with my cousins and siblings, as she played the organ. I was so proud of her; MY grandma was playing the organ for the whole church!!

    I also recall attending church as an extended family, when we would all gather ocassionally at the farm. I remember my cousin Chris, sitting in on the children's sermon. He always had LOTS to say! It made all of us in the church giggle.

    When I think about Good Shepherd, I think about Grandma. And now I think about her grave located at this former church site. I would be hopelessly sad at her loss, except for the promise that God has given us, that she lives forever in Heaven, basking in the presence of Jesus, her Lord!:) I will see her again, and in that I find comfort.

  2. *I am posting this memory for my Uncle Kevin*

    So I guess I was about 5 years old, and it was late on a Sunday evening. It was "Family Night" and we- the whole family at that time- had been at Good Shepherd for the Sunday evening program. The program was over, lunch had been served, the adults were still sitting around the tables talking farming, weather, kids, and life in general. I had been 'asked to leave' - non-too-politely- from the group of similar aged kids- from Jimmy Brustuen down to Gary Eliason. I hung out by dad for a bit- he wasn't done talking with Berger Melin, Bill Radtke, and a couple other men at his table- besides he had a full cup of coffee. So I meandered through the church by myself; I felt brave, so I went up the steps straight into the narthex, all by myself, looking around in the unfamiliar night-time lighting of that end of the church.

    In the far end of the narthex was the crying room, and from there I heard voices softly talking; sounding familiar, I crept up to the doorway of the Crying Room (today it would be known as the Nursery), and stood there awkwardly for several minutes before the voices recognized me: it was Eldon and Shelby, sitting in folding chairs right next to the crib, having a serious discussion about the future, about the past, about how life was changing, even as they sat there by themselves beside the crib watching over a quietly sleeping baby Keith. Eldon sat there, leaning against the crib, one arm aimlessly dangling over the side of the crib, mindlessly caressing Keith's shoulder as Keith slept the sleep of a newborn baby.

    That night left a huge impression on me. I somehow knew it was an epochal-time-changing moment; from the conversation I overheard, somehow I was able to know that Eldon and Shelby would no longer be a part of this scene, that the world was changing, that my world too, would change, that the life of Good Shepherd was somehow in the process of changing- even if for no other reason than that these two good and decent young men would soon no longer be a part of the regular life of this congregation and of this community. And it made me sad- very sad. I've never forgotten that night, nor the lesson I learned that night.

    When I looked at the pictures of the church moving, and watched the movie clip of the church roll by Mother's driveway- I saw the windows of the Crying Room, and I recalled that night, 50 years ago, and remembered the people who were there that night, and the people who talked over their coffee and lunch in the church basement that night, who now remain in the prairie sod beside the former foundation of our church.



Share a little love would ya? I'd love to hear what you have to say!


Related Posts with Thumbnails