Lutheran church officially opens

After nearly eight years of operating as "mission" church a congregation that is considered under development and temporary the Lutheran Church of Grace is now a permanent addition to the Craig community.

During a ceremony held Sunday and attended by representatives from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, it became official the more than 100 members of the local Lutheran church now have a place to call home.

"When it proves that it's here to stay financially and in terms of structure, it is allowed to become a permanent church," Rev. Beth Purdum said.

Being under development, the church couldn't do several things, such as hiring a pastor. Purdum is a mission developer sent by the national Lutheran organization in response to resident's requests to open a church locally.

"It doesn't typically take seven years to become official," Purdum said. "Places where there are a lot of Lutherans can get approved in as little as two years."

The church held its first service on Oct. 31, 1993. Since then, more than 100 people have joined, helping the church to raise the money necessary to be considered self-sufficient. According to Purdum, the national organization asks that a church be able to earn $90,000 a year to pay for a building and a pastor. The church is also required to donated 15 percent of its donations to the national chapter. Because Craig is such a small town and the cost of living is fairly low, the national Lutheran organization allowed the church to formally join having only $70,000.

The national Lutheran organization gave the local church a gift of $10,000 for becoming an official church.

The church rents space from the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the corner of Seventh and Barclay Streets. Members hope to have their own place of worship and sacred space one day, Purdum said.

"I'm very excited, but I'm also very apprehensive because we have a lot more work to do get land and build a building the challenges are enormous," she said.

Now that the church has the funds to hire pastor, they have asked Purdum to stay, and she has agreed. The necessary paperwork is all that remains to make it official.

The Lutheran Church of Grace works closely with the Episcopal, Methodist and UCC churches in Craig. The church provides worship and a pancake breakfast for Grand Olde West Days, and takes part in a Vacation Bible School program in which many Craig youth participate.

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