The first organized worship service at Lake of the Woods (LOW) was held in the middle of November 1971. Early formalization efforts were difficult with many stumbling blocks; however, ten Christians (called the Founders) were persistent in their belief that every community should have a church. A constitution was drafted and signed by the Founders and 29 other members; thus, they all became Charter Members on April 28, 1974. These Charter Members came from many denominational backgrounds making The Lake of the Woods Church (LOWC) very unique. We are a church of believers from many backgrounds. Our focus is on Jesus Christ who unites us. Our many ministries are open and offered to the whole community. If you do not have a church home, please know you are welcome here.
The members had two goals in mind from the beginning. The first was to have a permanent pastor. Reverend Glen Cannon was welcomed as pastor in May 1982 and following his resignation in 1994, Reverend Paul Marsden was named interim pastor. He served until Reverend Thomas Schafer was welcomed as Pastor in May 1995. Reverend Brent Saathoff was welcomed as Minister of Education in May 1991, becoming Associate Pastor in 1995, ministering here until 1998. Timothy Corner served as Minister for Families and Christian Education from 1999 to 2004. Vincent Klug served as Minister for Youth and Small Groups
from 1999 to 2004, and as Pastor for Family Ministry and Adult Education from 2004 to his resignation in 2006. Reverend Adam Colson as Youth Pastor and Reverend James Smith as Senior Associate Pastor joined the ministerial staff during the summer of 2006. Michael Lemay moved from his part-time role in the youth program to a ministry of visitation in 2007 which has expanded in 2008. The pastoral team is assisted by other staff serving in valuable ways within part-time positions with worship, youth and children’s ministries, administration and custodial roles. In LOWC, every member in ministry is a core value, and is reflected by the considerable number of volunteers staffing a host of ministries every week.
The second beginning goal was for church members to have their own building. Originally they met in approximately ten different locations inside LOW, including some members’ homes. After many disappointments, eventually four acres were purchased adjacent to the Lake of the Woods. Because of a grandfather clause granted to the land’s previous owners, the church obtained permission to cross the LOW perimeter strip as a part of the purchase agreement.
The initial church building was dedicated in September 1987 and was almost completely furnished by gifts. The facilities encouraged many different activities and a growth in membership. Due to the need for more space to hold various meetings and Sunday School classes, a fund drive for a building addition was started in April 1993. This new construction, dedicated in June 1996, included the Friendship Hall, kitchen, added classrooms, restrooms and office space. Renovations in 1999 multiplied this space opening additional room for new offices and small group ministries. Based upon a strategic plan developed by the Boards of Elders and Trustees and the Pastors, the facilities were expanded once more with the construction of a 22,000-square-foot Worship Center and Education Center which was dedicated in December 2004. As the LOWC grows in its ministry to residents both within LOW and surrounding communities, this newest space has served our vision well.
In 1996, an outdoor area behind the building was set aside to provide a quiet place for meditation. It was financed completely by gifts, and every year since its inception, the Women’s Guild makes a gift to the Garden in memory of its members or members’ husbands who have died during the past year. A group from the Men’s Tuesday Bible Study renovated the area in 2004 and added a pathway of memorial “Faith Bricks” as a fundraising project for the building expansion.
Music has always been an inspiration and an important part in the life of the church since the summer of 1974 when Borgny Ostby played the piano and directed the choir of three voices, until today, with Paul Workman leading the 40+ member choir. Talented members make up the Praise Teams for both the blended and contemporary services. The Children’s Choir, Handbell Choir and various concerts all contribute to our worship services, enjoyment and outreach.
Over the years, many adult Sunday School classes and groups have evolved. The first was the Women’s Guild, beginning in 1979 with a total of 13 members, now totaling over 100 women from our area. New initiatives in adult discipleship continue today, adding new classes and groups throughout the week that meet both in the church building and area homes. The church has placed a consistent emphasis on missions and benevolence, giving over 15% of total donations for these purposes. Membership numbers over 900 as of January 2008 and worship attendance averages some 600 per Sunday.
In the spring of 1999, the church celebrated its silver anniversary with special services. The intervening years since 1971 have brought more growth and blessings than the Founders could have ever dreamed. To God be the glory!
Updated January 7, 2010