On Sunday, June 23, 2013, Peace Lutheran Church, Joplin, MO celebrated the dedication of their newly completed building. Bishop Gerald Mansholt of Central States Synod was present for the day of great joy and thanksgiving. “It was a marvelous event and we had a full house!” said Pastor Katherine Redpath of Peace Lutheran Church. While the building is charming and lovely, for members of the congregation the journey to reach this milestone has been filled with many twists and turns.
On May 22, 2011, the EF5 tornado that decimated Joplin, MO also leveled the church. Since then, the congregation has to deal with grief on many levels. One member was killed by the tornado. And due to circumstances beyond their control, the congregation had to find a new location to rebuild.
Although they had to abandon their location, Peace Lutheran Church did not abandon their ministry; immediately following the storm they began to worship at Bethany Presbyterian Church. In August, 2011, they received Pastor Kathy as their pastor. Incidentally, Pastor Kathy is a tornadoes survivor; nearly 40 years ago, her house in Ohio was destroyed by twisters and she lived through the painstaking process of recovery. Unbeknown to her at the time, that experience was good preparation her for the ministry of healing and hope she is bringing to Peace Lutheran.
According to Pastor Kathy, a key turning point for the congregation was the Praise Service they held under the big tent on the parking lot of the old church site on the one year anniversary of the storm. While embracing the pain and sufferings that came with the losses, the congregation recounted God’s grace and rededicated themselves to move forward into God’s unknown future.
For Pastor Kathy, the dedication of the new building marks the beginning of a new phase of ministry. In her most recent newsletter article, she affirms “worshipping and building up the Body of Christ,” as key purposes of the newly relocated Peace Lutheran Church. But citing the story of King Solomon dedicating the new temple in Jerusalem (1 King 8), Pastor Kathy underscores the importance of “inviting and welcoming of ‘foreigners’ [–those who are not already in our faith communities–] who can come and learn more about this God whom they hear about from us.”
For “foreigners” and family alike, Peace Lutheran Church has a very compelling story of God’s Grace and Peace in the midst of chaos and turmoil. May God continue to bless the people of Peace Lutheran as they live into the future God is calling them!
For “foreigners” and family alike, Peace Lutheran Church has a very compelling story of God’s Grace and Peace in the midst of chaos and turmoil.
May God continue to bless the people of Peace Lutheran as they live into the future God is calling them!