Hoping For The Future, Building On The Past
The old church building on Maple Street has served as a gathering place for God’s people in Odell, Nebraska for nearly 100 years. Generations of faithful Christians have walked through the doors of Our Savior Lutheran Church each Sunday to hear God’s word and be strengthened in the faith. The legacy of this rural church continues today in the small town.
“Our Savior is really the heartbeat of the community,” said Rev. Mark Frith of Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). “The church is involved in every aspect of the community, from the public school to the bank to the community center.”
And unlike many rural areas, Odell is growing. Houses are snatched up as soon as they go on the market, mostly by families with children wanting to move into the area.
Our Savior is also growing. Their deep connection to the community helps their outreach, and the recent population growth is helping the church to reach even more people with the Good News of Christ.
“Each year, there are more and more children and adults that are hearing about the mighty deeds of our God.” said the pastor at Our Savior, Rev. Greg Stuckwisch.
In Need of a New Building
With all of this growth, it’s no wonder that Our Savior is tossing around the idea of constructing a new church building. A lack of space is not the only problem with the current structure. There is a desperate need for handicap accessibility that the present structure does not provide. Stairs to the basement prevent some of the congregation’s elderly members from attending fellowship events. Adequate and accessible restrooms are also a big need for the church.
Perhaps most concerning, however, is the fact that the walls of the building are tilting outward. The integrity of the structure is on its last legs, according to structural analysis. They think a heavy snowfall could bring down the roof, with the walls soon to follow.
The church was in between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they had a desperate need for a new building, and on the other, they faced a seemingly impossible fundraising task.
Their connection to LCEF changed everything.
“We wanted some professional help to lead us in a Godly way while continuing God’s ministry here in this place,” said Stuckwisch.
They knew working with LCEF would be a good step forward. The new building will give the congregation much more room to expand. An accessible worship space, as well as a new fellowship hall, will allow all of the members to gather as they live life together. Dedicated spaces for Sunday school and youth group will also be present in this family-centric congregation.
Raising Funds in Faith
Our Savior decided to partner with LCEF to run an Immeasurably More campaign to raise the funds to build a new facility.
“The Immeasurably More campaigns are built on the news that God has given God’s people everything that they need to survive, everything they need to thrive, everything that they need to follow Him and do His work,” said Frith.
These campaigns focus on helping churches clarify their ministry and who God has called them to serve. The whole congregation is involved as they spend time praying, asking questions and making plans. Churches participate in Bible studies, prayer and worship series as they contemplate their mission in the community.
“This process allows everyone to have a hand in what was happening and a feeling of ownership. So, throughout the process, the individuals in the congregation as a whole felt as if they were owning this project,” said Stuckwisch.
Our Savior launched the campaign in early 2021. They decided the theme would be “Hope for our future. Building on our past.”
Our Savior in Odell has a past that is deeply rooted in the community. Now, they look forward to what God has in store for their congregation in the future. Designs for the new church will allow their ministry to grow as they continue to witness to God’s goodness and grace.