Onlookers sang church hymns.

Through tears of joy, a retired church builder finished his last project.

And, the white spire, now fully secured atop the 77-year-old building, stands ready to welcome its community.

The Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church installed their new 35-foot tall church steeple with the help of church members and community volunteers Thursday, Sep. 24.

The steeple was a $14,000 gift to the church from a lifelong man-of-faith, Larry Backlund, who wanted to give something back to his hometown parish where he first learned the importance of being in-service of others.

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"There are so many emotions, just joy in seeing it, and a sense of that it looks like it's been there forever and was intended to be there," said Backlund. "I realized that there is something about a steeple that almost forces your eyes to lift up towards heaven."

The installation was the culmination of a six-month process and, Backlund said, exceeded his own expectations.

"To see (the church member's) excitement, and their vision...they've had a lot of work and a lot of expense to prepare for this day of putting the steeple up there," said Backlund. "It totally changes the look and feel (of the church)."

Larry Backlund prays in front of Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church before the last piece of the new 35-foot church steeple is installed. The church received the steeple as a gift from Backlund, a hometown parishioner. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
Larry Backlund prays in front of Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church before the last piece of the new 35-foot church steeple is installed. The church received the steeple as a gift from Backlund, a hometown parishioner. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

During the installation, Backlund led the nearly two-dozen onlookers in prayer before the final tower-piece was raised.

"We stand back in awe of this date, not in awe of a steeple . . . but we stand back in awe of you," said Backlund. "And so we stand before you today to say thank you. To say thank you for all that you have done for us."

Volunteers hoist the spire of a new 35-foot church steeple. Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church received the steeple as a gift from a hometown parishioner. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
Volunteers hoist the spire of a new 35-foot church steeple. Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church received the steeple as a gift from a hometown parishioner. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

Ron Anderson, a retired church builder and project leader, said he's been apart of more than 100 church projects, but this last one means more than he was prepared for, and began to cry.

Anderson said: "It's my last one. When I look up there, I see the Lord. And, it won't be long, before it's face-to-face. I'm 78, how many years do you got left? I don't know. I didn't expect to do this, but he allowed me to do it."

From start to finish, the installation only lasted about three hours. Anderson said he never liked things that "take a long time."

Ron Anderson, left, Larry Backlund, center, and Pastor Dale Robins pose in front of Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church's new 35-foot steeple. The church received the steeple as a gift from Backlund, a hometown parishioner. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
Ron Anderson, left, Larry Backlund, center, and Pastor Dale Robins pose in front of Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church's new 35-foot steeple. The church received the steeple as a gift from Backlund, a hometown parishioner. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

Once lighting is installed for the steeple, Dale Robins, a pastor at Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church, said he hopes it will serve as beacon in the community to attract new church members.

"I'm pretty happy," said Robins. "That's the best I can say. It worked out so well."

Robins said the congregation is excited about their new church tower and that steeples themselves are made to point to Christ, which he hopes the community sees as a welcoming invitation.