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A look back, a move forward

The congregation of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, in Lyle, is preparing to celebrate its centennial.

The earliest records carry a yellow tint of authenticity that comes with their 108 years. One lists the names of 11 women who got together "at the home of Mrs. P. A. Johnson" to organize a new chapter of the Lutheran Ladies Aid in 1903.

"The women realized the need for a church in town. They went to work to help raise funds to build it."

That transforming snippet of information is on page 4 of a booklet marking the 100th anniversary of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lyle, where lots of ladies are working hard to prepare for the church’s Centennial Celebration Sept. 4.

The day’s activities will begin with a 9:30 a.m. service. Bishop Harold Usgaard will address the congregation and visitors. Special music from former and present members will follow, and a noon meal will be served after the service with a centennial program to follow. There will be more special music in the afternoon plus a historical display and cake and ice cream.

The historical display, which takes up a full room, got a lot of attention from the women of the church this week. Through original documents, photographs and artifacts, such as a turn-of-the-century bible and a gallon-size Graniteware coffee pot, the display takes visitors through the church story from its beginning to today.


The original building served from 1913 to 1967, when the new church opened on 9 acres on Lyle’s north side. There’s even a timeline on the floor to put history’s markers into perspective. Our Savior’s has five families who can trace their ties to the church for five generations.

An impressive story of today’s church can be read by simply walking through it. The entrance includes a striking stone patio, the narthex has a display of stained glass windows from the original church building, and the sanctuary brings most visitors to a halt.

Best seen by early to mid-morning or afternoon light, the stained glass in the new church fills the sanctuary with an amazing array of colors, which accentuates a soaring beamed ceiling with more than a hint of a proud Nordic heritage.

In the rest of the building, one sees evidence of a busy church, dedicated to education and service to the community and the world.

"It’s a congregation with a heart," said the Rev. Barbara Finley-Shea who has served the church for the past 13 years. "Our mission statement is ‘Open Doors, Open Hearts,’ and we try our best to live it."

She enjoys showing visitors the building’s new theater room, equipped with brand new seats via eBay and a large screen TV donated by a member.

A beautiful handicapped accessible bathroom is new. A food pantry, started in 1998, includes a refrigerator to preserve donations of meat. The pantry helps people in need in both Minnesota and Iowa.

Even a storage room has evidence of a robust ministry of sharing. There are quilts in here; between 1970 and 2010, 1,939 quilts, have supported Lutheran World Relief. There are also school kits, health kits and layettes.


The statue of Christ on the altar also came from the original church building, where it continues to be a source of pride and inspiration to the congregation. By one of Europe’s most renowned sculptors, Bertel Thorvaldsen, it is known to the world as both his "Christus Statue" and more commonly as the "Come unto Me" statue. The original was created for the Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen in 1821.

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