St. Paul’s, Kellogg, Reaches out as it Closes
Pastor Julie Higgs, Assistant to the Bishop
It was a lot like a funeral. There were tears and sadness that day. However, there were also joy-filled reunions, laughter mingling with memories, and hope for the future as well. On Sunday, August 28, the members of St. Paul’s in Kellogg worshiped for the last time in the building that has served the congregation for parts of three centuries – since its dedication in 1873.
As a small community of faith with an average worship attendance of only 7 people each Sunday and limited financial resources, the congregation of St. Paul’s held on as long as it could. The congregation eventually went to sharing a pastor, Pastor Nancy Pick, with St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Sully during the difficult struggle. However, the ongoing difficulties proved too much and the congregation reluctantly voted earlier this year to close. But while the congregation closed, it did not die. Its legacy lives on not only in its members, who are scattering to other area congregations, but also in the gifts shared with the wider church – locally, regionally, and internationally.
St. Paul’s ministry will continue through other organizations such as:
- ELCA World Hunger and Jasper County Kids Against Hunger through financial gifts that will feed the hungry;
- Southeastern Iowa Synod Fund for Leaders through a financial gift to help bring up future leaders in the church by funding scholarships to seminary students from the synod;
- Lutheran Services in Iowa by helping Iowa’s most vulnerable through a financial gift;
- Lutheran Chaplaincy Outreach Fund through a financial gift that helps reaching out to those who are sick or injured or grieving.
Many of St. Paul’s members will transfer to St. Andrew’s and moving with them will be familiar reminders of their “home” congregation that includes the cross, Eternal Light, a candle stand, several pews, and Advent wreath. St. Paul’s bell, which once called the people of Kellogg to worship, will now call people to worship at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Newton. Some members of Pleasant View United Methodist Church will ride up and down their stairs with St. Paul’s lift chair. The Kellogg Township Trustees will care for the German Lutheran Cemetery. The Kellogg Museum will hold some of the oldest book from St. Paul’s. And finally, the church building itself will be cared for and used for Christmas gatherings by a large local family.
And those lists only begin to tell the story. Processing out of the church, carrying the cross, candles, baptismal bowl, paten and chalice, Bible and more, the congregation sang Blest Be the Tie that Binds and I Love to Tell the Story. This procession, as well as the entire worship service, reminded all present that – while the gospel of Jesus Christ had certainly been proclaimed in that place – it had never been contained by that space – nor is it now.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.