In 1856, a Methodist Circuit Rider by the name of John Dyer was committed to organizing a ministry in what would become the Fillmore County village of Lenora.
Rev. Dyer was a man determined to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to bring people together to form churches. He was instrumental in the early days of what would become Lenora Methodist Church.
Dyer worked with great vision and commitment during those pioneer days, and gradually, the stone walls of the new church building began to grow.
A great financial panic in 1857 and the ensuing Civil War brought church construction to a standstill. It was not until 1865 that another energetic Circuit Rider by the name of Moses Mapes was able to restart and complete the construction of the Lenora Church. For many, many years, until the early 1920s, this stone church building was the home of a lively and energetic congregation.
Today, we are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, which has caused major changes in our lives as people practice social distancing and much of daily life as we know it has been completely altered, with the closing of schools, churches, businesses, and the cancellation of numerous events and activities.
This is definitely a strange time which people may find perplexing, disturbing and perhaps frightening. We are definitely in uncharted territory!
Recently, I spent some time at the old Lenora Church. The building was closed up for the winter, and it was quite chilly inside the old stone walls. I sat for a while, thinking and praying as the sun cast rays of light across the old board floor.
I got to wondering, "What if this old church building could talk, what would it say?" "In light of all that we are experiencing right now with the pandemic, what would these old walls say?"
The venerable walls of the Lenora Church have known heartache and sadness as well as happiness and sheer joy. If those walls could talk, they could talk about hurt and pain following the Civil War, of the tragic loss of human life, and the assassination of President Lincoln. Those walls would talk of World Wars I and II, and other tragedies: the Korean War, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and a variety of conflicts in the Middle East, 9/11, and a multitude of mass shootings and other expressions of human loss and tragedy.
The walls of the Lenora Church would have much to say. But, those walls could also speak of great accomplishments and incredible human achievements. In the midst of all of it, those walls would speak of the goodness and faithfulness of God’s love in Jesus Christ, through both happy and sad times.
They would speak of the unending grace, forgiveness and love of God throughout all of life.
As the sun streamed in through the windows, I sensed a growing feeling of hope and optimism, even in the midst of challenging days. I sat and prayed within the old church and felt an inner peace of confidence and assurance.
The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has certainly led us into uncharted territory and there is much we do not understand, but there is a certain “peace that passes understanding” as we open our hearts and minds to God.
The Rev. Mark Woodward serves the Maple Leaf Parish of Spring Valley (Faith, Cherry Grove and Fountain United Methodist churches) and the historic Lenora Church. "From the Pulpit" runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Life Editor Meredith Williams at 507-281-7488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.