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Mt Olive celebrates 100 years of grace
Sept. 10, 2012
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Special services Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

DELANO, MN – Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Delano may be turning 100 this year, but with its modern building and young members, the church is far from old.

Two special anniversary services will take place at Mt. Olive (435 Bridge Ave. E.) Sunday, Sept. 16.

The first one, at 9 a.m., will be officiated by Rev. Chris Hoppe, a son of a congregation member. Hoppe is currently a pastor in Frontenac (near Red Wing).

A 2 p.m. service will be officiated by Charles Degner, president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) Minnesota district.

Mixed choirs, musical ensembles, historical displays, and a catered meal will add to the occasion, as parishioners celebrate the anniversary theme from Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Although Mt. Olive’s message hasn’t changed in 100 years, the church looks quite a bit different than in 1912.

“We are becoming a younger and younger congregation,” Pastor Paul Marggraf said, adding that this summer’s vacation Bible school (VBS) program was larger than ever.

Marggraf said Mt. Olive’s Christian elementary school, which began in 1955, could be one reason many young families are choosing to attend church at Mt. Olive.

The congregation’s reach isn’t limited by age, however.

“We do have quite a few members who have been here many, many years – some are in their 90s,” Marggraf said.

Developmentally disabled members are also welcome at Mt. Olive. A few years ago, the church implemented Jesus Cares Ministries, offering an adaptive service the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“About a dozen people attend each time,” Marggraf said. “We have Bible stories, singing, crafts, and games.”

In addition to outreach opportunities, the location of Mt. Olive has also changed throughout the years.

When it began in 1912, six families met at the home of Pastor Henry Bruns. Before this, Bruns led services for a small group of people in a small Swedish mission church.

From 1917 to 1923, Mt. Olive was part of a parish that served Salem, Crawford Lake, and Montrose.

The Salem congregation later dissolved, and its members joined Mt. Olive. Because of the larger membership, volunteers built a new church for Mt. Olive in 1928.

German services were discontinued in 1948, and Mt. Olive Lutheran School was constructed in 1955. The first teacher was Fern Frank, who was assigned to all eight grades. Preschool classes were added in 1992.

Marggraf, who was raised in northern California, became pastor of Mt. Olive in 2000.

“This is the third parish I’ve served at,” he said, explaining that his other two calls were in South Dakota.

When Marggraf arrived, Mt. Olive’s services took place in the 1928 church building. Not long after, in 2004, finance and building committees were established to determine the feasibility of building a new worship facility.

Groundbreaking for the new building took place in 2006, and the dedication services were held a year later.

The facility offers increased sanctuary capacity from 220 to 400, handicap accessibility, air conditioning, a large library and meeting area, a new kitchen, expanded fellowship and narthex areas, a physical link between the church and school, additional classrooms, a nursery for parents with small children, and modern audio and visual capabilities.

Mt. Olive meets for worship every Sunday at 9 a.m., followed by Sunday school and family Bible hour at 10:15 during the school year.

Bible studies are also offered throughout the week. Current topics include the book of Revelation, a Biblical perspective on money, life lessons from Jacob, and more.

To learn more about Mt. Olive, call (763) 972-2442 or e-mail mtolivechurch@hotmail.com.

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