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Woodworth Lutheran Church to celebrate 100-year anniversary

Woodworth Lutheran Church will celebrate its 100-year anniversary Sunday, July 16, at the church in Woodworth. Special to The Sun

If you go

What: Woodworth Lutheran Church's 100-year anniversary celebration

When: 10 a.m. Sunday, July 16

Where: Woodworth Lutheran Church, North Main Street, Woodworth

Details: Many former pastors will be in attendance for the 10 a.m. worship service. A dinner will be served after the service. The cost of the meal is $12.50 per plate and $8 for children 6 and younger. A silent auction will also be held. The church is requesting people to call to reserve a meal. To reserve a meal, call (701) 650-8882.

When Marleen Odenbach of Woodworth thinks about Woodworth Lutheran Church being around for 100 years, she said it is about the people who came before here and established the church when it was a difficult time in 1917.

"Each generation after them has tried to do the same," said Odenbach, a lifelong member of the church. "It is a very special day for us."

A celebration to celebrate Woodworth Lutheran Church's 100-year anniversary will be held Sunday, July 16, at the church.

"It is by the grace of God that we are still here and able to maintain ministry for 100 years," said the Rev. Candyce Wick, pastor at Woodworth and Pingree Lutheran churches.

Woodworth Lutheran Church is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Odenbach attended Sunday school at Woodworth Lutheran Church and was confirmed at the church. Since she lives on a farm in the Woodworth area, she still attends the church and supports it.

"It is not like I have an allegiance to any particular church, only to God," she said.

Odenbach said she got her basic information about her faith in God from her Sunday school teachers at the church. By attending church and going to confirmation as a teenager, she said she got more support in her faith.

"I have had difficult times in my life," she said. "I have lost my husband, and I had a grandson who had cancer. I prayed my way through those, and I know I was fortunate to have that background. I don't know that I could have gotten through those things without my faith in God."

Lutheran settlers who moved into Woodworth territory in 1911 were affiliated with the Lutheran church in their former homes. Since there wasn't a church where they could meet or a place where a worship service and Sunday school could be held, the settlers met in various homes, according to the book "Woodworth Yesterday and Today: 75 years in Woodworth, N.D., 1911-1986."

In 1913, the Rev. R.J. Wisneas of Jamestown conducted the first services in the Woodworth schoolhouse and continued to visit occasionally until 1917. On June 22, 1917, a meeting was held to organize a Lutheran congregation, and an organization was completed and a constitution was adopted on Aug. 3, 1917, the book said.

Work began on the church building in 1917.

Wick said the church has some Norwegian, Swedish and German roots, but it was primarily Norwegian.

As for the future of the church, Wick said there will be more challenges.

"But as long as we are able to continue doing ministry, we will," she said. "We have a Sunday school, we have confirmation class that is combined with Pingree (Lutheran Church), and we do have younger families in our church."

Wick said the church has a very small congregation - anywhere from seven to 25 people on a Sunday - but it is a very strong, committed core group.

With having a small congregation, she said that definitely has an impact on how she does ministry.

One of the cons of a rural church is finances, she said. It costs a lot of money to maintain a building, but she said Woodworth Lutheran Church is about more than just doing that.

"With anything that you want to implement, I think we put a positive spin on it the best we can by being creative with the things that we choose to do and how we do them," she said

If and when the church's ministry ends, Wick said the ministry doesn't really end.

"The impact that that church has had on so many lives is apparent in people when they move out of the community," she said. "Just the seeds that have been sown are powerful, and the spirit continues to live well beyond Woodworth Lutheran Church."