an older Kenosha News Story

Church: Kenosha News ArticlePosted: Saturday, September 24, 2005

Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church hosts grand opening on SundayKAREN MAHONEY, KENOSHA NEWS CORRESPONDENTSep 24, 2005ANTIOCH, Ill. – The dream of a lovely new dwelling place is finally a reality for members of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Antioch, as they celebrate their 50th birthday with a major move. A member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Milwaukee, the congregation will celebrate its grand opening at its new location, 24300 Grass Lake Road in Antioch, on Sunday.Ensconced since 1951 in its small sanctuary at 1275 S. Main Street, the growing community of 1,000 members, with one third from the Salem and Trevor areas, wanted a larger, but warm and inviting place to pray and greet members, as well as newcomers.According to the Rev. Aaron Christie, building a church with an old world feel but modern American appearance was one of significant importance to members. “That’s exactly what we got,” he said. “Many of our guests have said they are happy to see someone building a church that ‘actually looks like a church.’ “Nestled on 25 acres, the new sanctuary seats 525 people, doubling the size of the previous church’s capacity. A spacious gathering area, complete with fireplace, encourages guests and members to socialize with each other.Old world characteristics include an octagon-shaped chapel (which represents the ancient Christian symbol for Easter), a bell tower and a high ceiling. “The altar is a classic European ‘Triptych’ altar,” Christie said. “It is a massive casing that holds three oil paintings done by Melanie Pope of Racine. Triptych altars stand in many old Lutheran churches in Germany to this day. But what is really interesting is that the whole building is built in an American arts and crafts style. The hope is that when the average American comes here, they will realize we are a church that has a rich history behind it as they minister aggressively in the present.”Plans for the new building began eight years ago, when Christie was in his first month as pastor of the congregation. Although actual construction of the church took one year, designing, changing architects midway, and funding the $5.5 million project took slightly longer.”The financial downturn that followed 9/11 really stalled our project for about a year and a half,” he said. “This was a good reminder to us that our congregation really is a cross-section of American society at large.”With members enthusiastically pledging an extra $1.9 million to fund the project, Christie is proud of the community’s devotion. “At our dedication service in July, there were 700 people present at the one service,” he said. “At one point, when we unveiled the altar paintings, there was hardly a dry eye in the place. The congregation has definitely been behind this effort. Our old church was simply too small. The congregation recognized that the future of our ministry in Antioch was on the new site instead of the old Main Street facility.”Probably most surprising to Christie and associate pastor, Greg Hermanson, is the increase in attendance since building the new church. “We were told that if we built it, they would come,” Christie stated. “How true – this summer, our church attendance has been up about 100 people per Sunday from last year. We have had so many new families that we have had a difficult time following up on them.”In order to meet the needs of the rapidly growing congregation, Faith Lutheran recently installed the Rev. Edward Ungemach III, formerly of Kenosha, as the resident missionary. The focus of Ungemach’s ministry will be to reach out to new members, visitors and the community. In addition to the increased attendance, Christie remarked that the new worship space seems to have breathed new life into the congregation. “The acoustics are marvelous, and the spoken Word is being heard clearly-our message has not changed, but the new sanctuary is certainly helping us to communicate the message better,” he said. For Christie, the building process has edified him as a pastor, giving him a much-needed boost. “Much of what we do in the ministry is intangible,” he said. “The building is something that can be seen. Humanly speaking there were 5.5 million other things that people could have done with their hard-earned money. But, God’s people here invested it in Gospel ministry via this building. That’s humbling!”The realization that members of Faith Lutheran built the church out of love, faith, and trust in their faith has intensified Christie’s faith and dedication to his ministry.”All this has deepened in me a need to do the ministry with excellence,” he said. “God and His people deserve nothing less than the best that one can offer.”If you goWhat: Grand opening of Faith Evangelical Lutheran ChurchWhere: 23400 W. Grass Lake Road (West Grasslake Road and Highway 59)When: 8 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 25.What else: Tours will be available after the services For more information: (847) 395-1664

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