By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN As Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Delano nears its 25th anniversary, parishioners recall the journey of faith that brought them where they are today.
“Over the past 25 years, we have gathered to worship in many places,” said charter member Mary Ann McKay. “We’ve worshipped in a church basement, in fellow congregations, and at the Delano High School auditorium. We’ve worshipped on lawn chairs in parks, and on hay bales at our building site.”
The public is invited to a festive 25th anniversary celebration for Light of Christ Sunday, May 16, starting with a 10:30 a.m. worship service at the Delano Tiger Center gym.
At noon, there will be a catered meal at a cost of $10 for adults, $5 for children age 10 and under, and a family maximum of $30.
People interested in attending should call the church as soon as possible at (763) 972-2400 to reserve a meal.
The event is a way for the congregation to reach out to family, friends, and former members, according to planning committee volunteer Cheri Ashfeld.
Light of Christ started in 1985, but its history goes back to the late 1960s. At that time, several families in the Delano and Rockford areas were looking for a Lutheran alternative to the existing Wisconsin Synod congregation in Delano.
Through the American Lutheran Church, a mission congregation began with worship services in both Delano and Rockford. The pastor was Manuel Johnson, and a parsonage was purchased in Delano.
The church steadily grew, developing a strong voice in the community. Eventually, a member donated acreage for a church building in Rockford, and Our Father’s Lutheran Church was constructed.
By 1984, people from the Delano area felt the need to have worship services closer to home. When Johnson resigned, the congregation mutually agreed to split into two churches.
This was the beginning of Light of Christ, which is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
After meeting in several locations for the first few years, a building was constructed in 1987. However, as more and more people joined, the church needed additional space. A new sanctuary, with seating capacity for more than 300 people, was completed in the fall of 1997.
One of the focal points of the Light of Christ building is a stained glass window above the altar.
“When we put up the new building, we couldn’t afford stained glass windows,” long-time member Dan Langner said.
In order to raise the money, Langner and several other church members staffed a concession stand at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
“We went down numerous times,” Langner said.
Typically, about 15 to 20 people would make the trip each time.
The concession company paid the volunteers according to how much they sold.
“If you had a good game and a good stand, you would make a lot,” Langner said.
Often, the group would come back with $1,000.
“It was a lot of fun,” Langner added. “We got to know a lot of different people.”
But the stained glass window wasn’t the end of improvements at Light of Christ. A growth spurt of young families prompted additional renovation in 2005, with a new wing of offices and classrooms.
In the past three years, worship attendance at Light of Christ has grown by 60 percent. There are currently more than 1,300 members, and about a third of those are youth and children.
“It’s been a journey, and many people have shared in that journey,” McKay said. “We have been blessed by their spirit of faith and community.”
Light of Christ is located at the corner of County Line Road and Wright County Road 11 in the northeast corner of Delano. Sunday services are at 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. with a Sunday school/adult study hour at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, go to www.lightofchristlutheran.org.