Chatfield Lutheran Church to ‘rejoice’ in 75th anniversary

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

The Chatfield area community is invited to Chatfield Lutheran Church’s 75th anniversary service Sunday, Oct. 13, at 10:30 a.m.

“It has been exciting to look back at all the many ways that God has been at work in this congregation.  We are so thrilled to celebrate where we’ve been and plan for where we are going,” stated the Rev. Nissa Peterson.

The Rev. Mark Docken added, “Church anniversaries are a little different from other anniversaries.  It is more than remembrance – it is a confession of praise and rededication.  As Paul writes in Romans 8, ‘For the creation can hardly wait for what’s coming next.’  It’s exciting on this 75th anniversary to ask, ‘What is God going to do next through and in our congregation?’  As we look back, we can see how God surprised us over the 75 years with new opportunities and challenges, and we can anticipate God’s continued faithfulness as we meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. It’s also fun to hear stories of church members of the past and how they shared their gifts to advance the ministry.”

Bishop Regina Hassanally of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod will be preaching during the service.  In the Sunday school hour, youth will have large group games with Good Earth Village staff, a special anniversary Bible lesson and activities such as face painting and a photo booth.  Adults are invited to a celebratory program featuring original poetry, remembrances from the past, written greetings from former pastors, and a special visit from Martin and Katie Luther.  To close out the festivities, there will be a congregational lunch.  For those who can’t make the special service, the regular 8 a.m. worship service will be held.

“Our focus during this celebration is to ‘Remember, Rejoice,’ Renew!’  We want to celebrate where we’ve been as a congregation, give thanks for the gifts we have, and renew ourselves in ministry for the years to come.  We want to celebrate the ways we have grown and changed.  We want to celebrate that God is at work in our midst – and has been since day one,” Peterson said.

Docken added, “Biblical remembering is not nostalgia.  Biblical remembering is having the past faithfulness of God enter the present and shape our identity and give us hope.  We rejoice with all the great ‘rejoicers’ in the Bible – Miriam, David, Elizabeth and Mary – and we delight in how God has drenched us in grace and love.  The good news of Jesus Christ renews our spirits and gives us visions of justice and peace that propel us into the future.” 

The anniversary service will feature tenets for all ages, from the small to the tall, according to Peterson. Sunday school kids will open worship by sharing songs for the congregation. 

“Kids are always welcome and included in worship at Chatfield Lutheran, especially at the kids’ message and to come up and participate in the noisy offering,” Peterson said.

Docken agreed, “We plan on doing something special for the kids’ message, and prayers will be written and shared by our confirmation students.  Ruth Ann Lund has put in a lot of work to create a booklet that highlights the history of our ministry.  We will have a lot of special music in the worship from our adult choir, bell choir and Off the Wall worship band.” 

The pastors truly enjoy leading the CLC congregation, as Docken remarked, “It’s the surprises. Some of the most significant life-giving moments are unplanned and unanticipated.  It could be a fascinating question from a confirmation student, a confession of faith and trust in a hospital room, young people shining during a week-long mission trip, a worship service that speaks to us in a surprising way.  CLC is open to the Spirit and trying new things and new faith conversations.” 

Peterson summed up her experience with the congregation: “We have so many wonderful people at this congregation.  They work hard to make CLC a place where people feel God’s love and hear God’s word.  It’s an honor to accompany people through all of life’s moments – the challenging things like funerals, and the wonderful things like baptisms and confirmations.  This church family has been walking with people through all their life moments for 75 years.  That’s so cool!”

 Chatfield Lutheran is dedicated to serving the Chatfield community and around the world, noted Peterson as it sends quilts around the world through Lutheran World Relief, but also sends quilts to Chatfield residents through the Chatfield Christmas Project. Members serve meals at Ronald McDonald House and Hope Lodge, as well as to members going through tough situations.  The church has sent youth in mission to South Dakota, Texas, Michigan, Puerto Rico and New York.  Next year, they go to Nashville for a mission trip. 

“I could fill up a whole article with things we do as a congregation, because there are so many awesome ways we work together to praise and serve God,” she said.

Docken added that the church is mission partners with Lutheran Campus Ministry in Winona, San Juan congregation in Colombia, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, and Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in New York City.  Also, it is involved in the Tabitha/Chatfield Christmas Project and recently there was a special offering Sunday for the high school Care Closet.  The ministry even extends to lutefisk. 

“We will have visions of the lutefisk and meatball dinner on Dec. 4 dancing in our heads,” he said.

 Anyone from the community is welcome to attend the program at 9:15 a.m. and the celebration worship service at 10:30 a.m. 

“You are welcome here,” Peterson said. “We are so excited to invite new people in to explore Chatfield Lutheran.  We have lots of awesome things going on, but maybe your special gifts are just what we’ve been looking for.  Come worship and serve with us.” 

She pointed out that the luncheon after the special service will be an opportunity for fellowship with a catered lunch after the 10:30 worship service. The St. Mary’s Catholic Church community volunteered to assist with serving the lunch so the Lutheran church members could fully participate in the celebrations.

Peterson gave perspective on how three-quarters of a century has brought CLC to its present: “Our past has brought us where we are today.  We are not perfect – and never have been – but we strive to learn and grow, building on what we’ve tried and learned and failed at before.  What we look like in the future will look different than what we look like now, and we celebrate how God has been at work in the midst of all of this.” 

Docken concluded, “All are welcome, and we go in peace to serve the Lord.”