Two decades after first being dedicated, Grace Lutheran Church in Holts Summit continues to grow.
After celebrating their 20th anniversary as a church family during service Sunday, the congregation will proceed to their new church addition - dubbed the Mission Hall - for a dedication ceremony.
"We're going to progress into the new building following the cross - everything we do is centered around the cross of Christ," said church pastor Michael Diener. "We'll go into the new building and formally dedicate it to the Lord's service in prayer and song, and then enjoy a time of fellowship afterwards as a church family."
The church council had discussed building a new addition to provide a Christian preschool option in Holts Summit for the past three years, with groundbreaking beginning May 6, 2012. The annex will also be used for Sunday School and other church functions.
Though they had originally hoped to have the section built and ready for classes by August, the project was delayed when they opted to construct it with the help of volunteers from the congregation.
Diener said that with the help of retired workers Don Rahm, Ralph Wehmeyer, Don Russell, Howard Neises and Delmer Schutt, as well as other members of the congregation who helped throughout the process, Grace Lutheran was able to lower the projected $350,000 cost of the project.
"They did some excellent work, and it was a big help for the congregation to finish it," said Diener. "It gave them a chance to use their God-given gifts and talents."
Rahm, who is president of the church council, spent his working years "in front of a computer" for the Missouri Department of Economic Development. He worked on the building almost every day during its construction, and said that the opportunity to do something different for so long was welcome.
"It's been a rewarding experience," said Rahm. "You get to go and do some construction work everyday and you get to see a little progress. It was enjoyable to be able to work on the building and know what the purpose of it was for."
Because enrollment began in May with the intention of having the annex completed by August, Grace Lutheran preschool began in the summer in the main church building. Five students are enrolled in the preschool and one child in after-school daycare.
"For the first year, it's gone very well," said Diener. "We've gotten to share Christ for a number of children and their families. It's a blessing for them and our congregation."
The 80-by-60 Mission Hall will be open following dedication Sunday for Sunday School and general church activities. It will not be used immediately for preschool until it officially passes state inspections that are currently in progress.
This Sunday will also mark a celebration of the church's 20-year history. Grace Lutheran was chartered March 14, 1993, when groups from Faith Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran in Jefferson City met to start a mission church in Holts Summit. By 1998, they had built the current building, and since then their congregation has grown to about 175 members.