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Celebrating the past and embracing the future: First Lutheran Church celebrates its 100 centennial

These are examples of the checks displayed on the wall outside the sanctuary. Each time a large donation was made it was displayed on this wall (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)1 / 6
The renovated sanctuary at the First Lutheran Church. This is where church services are held each Sunday. Tribune photo. 2 / 6
These are examples of the checks displayed on the wall outside the sanctuary. Each time a large donation was made it was displayed on this wall (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)3 / 6
This is the time capsule and the items that will be locked in it. The box will remained locked for the next 100 years. Tribune photo. 4 / 6
This wall shows a number of the checks that have been donated as an anniversary present. Kemmer says it is the perfect way to show the congregation how they are helping the community. Tribune photo.5 / 6
The 100 centennial banner. It reads the theme and hangs in the front of the sanctuary. Tribune photo. 6 / 6

A Detroit Lakes church is gearing up for the celebration of a century.

First Lutheran Church, which turns 100 years old this year, will host a centennial celebration on August 27 and Terry Kemmer, chairperson of the church's personnel team, said that the day is going to be filled with fun and lots of worship.

The theme of the year and of the celebration is "Celebrating the Past and Embracing the Future," and Kemmer explained that the 27th will include lots of prayer "thanking the Lord for the past 100 years and asking for assistance in the next 100."

First on the list of activities for the day is a prayer breakfast, which will commence at 8:30 a.m. on the grassy area right outside the church.

A songfest will follow the breakfast, along with a summer outdoor service at 10:15 a.m.

Kemmer said the service will consist of the regular worship routine followed by performances by the bell choir, senior choir and a mass choir.

"At First Lutheran, we are very strong in worship and music," Kemmer said, "and both will be featured on the 27th."

The bishop from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Northwest Minnesota Senate will serve as a keynote speaker during the service.

After that, there will be a catered pig roast from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The meal is free of charge.

In addition to good food and worship, there will be family games--"carnival style," according to Kemmer--and music on the balcony.

They also plan to lock away a time capsule inside the church, which will remain locked for the next 100 years.

Kemmer said that they are expecting about 400 people to attend the celebration.

However, this isn't the first sign of celebration.

Starting last September, the church has featured different aspects of the congregation.

For example, in November, the women of the church shared what they have done for the church over the last 100 years via videos, displays, forums and more.

In June, the feature was weddings, so there were displays and information on how weddings have evolved in the church.

From the fall of 2013 through the fall of 2016, the church hosted a capital campaign in which they raised $1.3 million to pay mortgage costs on an addition to the church.

They used $800,000 to pay for the addition and $400,000 to renovate the sanctuary. After that, they had $100,000 left over, which they saved for this year.

According to Kemmer, First Lutheran donated the money to organizations in the local and global communities.

Kemmer explained that individuals or groups could nominate charities, all of which received some amount of funding.

One group chose to donate $5,000 to the Lakes Crisis Center. Another gave $1,000 to "Let's Go Fishing," a local organization that takes senior citizens and children fishing. Yet another provided TeacHaiti with a donation of $7,500.

Other donations went out to Food 4 Thought Backpack, Mary's Place and many more.

The rest of that $100,000 was used in what is called, "Parable of the Talents."

Parable of the Talents, Kemmer said, is a way for each participant to personally use the money to make a difference.

On the Sunday after Easter, every person that attended church received an envelope.

The envelopes contained a total of $22,000. Each one held anywhere from $50 to $500.

The job of the congregation was to take that money and find a cause that they deemed worthy of a donation.

"Many people matched the amount they were given and gave double to their cause," Kemmer said. "Other people put their money right back in the offering box, which is perfectly okay."

Each time a large donation was made, the church did a sort of educational presentation on the cause or charity during one of the church services.

Kemmer said it gave people the chance to learn more about what the church is doing and how their money is helping.

The church also has a wall where each donation is displayed on an enlarged check saying how much money was given to each cause.

On the other half of the wall, people wrote on cards, explaining what they chose to do with their money from the Parable of the Talents donations.

So far, $75,000 of the original $100,000 has been donated. Kemmer said that there is one more big donation they are waiting to make..

This year has been an exciting one for the First Lutheran Church, and the fun isn't over yet.

"We want August 27th to be a light and for people to celebrate and have fun," Kemmer said. "This is our way of giving back to the members of the church."

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