The Bethel Lutheran Church of Lea Park will celebrate its centennial anniversary over the weekend by drawing on some of its history.
For the past 100 years, the church has been a pillar in Lea Park community and surrounding areas like Marwayne, Heinsburg, Tulliby Lake and Dewberry. While it hasn’t always had the largest congregations, church secretary Pat Fox says it has had one of the strongest.
“It’s usually about 25 (people) or so, and they’re pretty much the same people that come all the time and do the work to keep the church up,” she said. “We’re very proud of our church because we have kept it up very well and we’ve had our struggles through the years and didn’t know if we’d be able to carry on, but somehow, we’ve always managed.”
Over the years, financial uncertainties have forced the church to flip through numerous part-time pastors. Pastor Ron Hobden, from Wainwright, currently serves the church one Sunday per month, while other services are lay.
The Bethel Lutheran Church has also lived through its fair share of physical alterations. Within the last 10 years, the church underwent renovations to install indoor plumbing and remove an old, slightly uncomfortable tradition.
“One of our members who has passed on, one of her dreams was to have indoor plumbing because we’d always just had the outhouse,” Fox cracked. “So we did add on and that was awesome, it’s made a big difference.”
Within the same time period, Lea Park’s Bethel Lutheran Church has also seen its cemetery area expanded, a new kitchen added, new siding and windows installed and programs, such as its August vacation bible school, implemented.
“Back in (the 1980s), it was the North Park school that was a few miles down the road and the family that bought the property donated the school to us to be used as a hall,” said Fox. “So we had moved that over and did renovations in there and that’s what we use every summer for bible school.”
Despite the many changes that have taken place along the 100-year trail of the church, Fox says that there has remained one constant.
“There’s always a need for a church and even though we may not have that big a crowd on a Sunday service, there are times when people need the church and it’s always been supported, whether they are in attendance or from a distance.”
On Saturday, the church will host an open house at 3 p.m., attended by several former pastors, followed by a wiener roast and campfire songs. Sunday’s program then includes communion morning services at 10:30 a.m. and a barbecue beef lunch, guest speakers and a musical program beginning around 2 p.m.