Last Sunday sermon at Iowa's oldest Lutheran church - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Last Sunday sermon at Iowa's oldest Lutheran church

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OSSIAN (KWWL) -

First Lutheran Church in rural Ossian was started August 1, 1850. The church is more than 162 years old!

"It is the oldest Norwegian church west of the Mississippi River, and the oldest Lutheran church in Iowa," said Pastor Ginny Olson.

But Sunday is the church's last Sunday service. The decision to dissolve was made largely because of the aging and shrinking congregation at the church.

At its height, First Lutheran had 538 baptized members. Today, there are 91 members.

"First of all we gather to worship and praise God. Secondly, we gather to be in communion with one another. But third, we're here to serve the larger church and that became very difficult," said Pastor Olson.

Pastor Ginny Olson said the discussion of dissolving the congregation started in January at the church's annual meeting. Then in April, a required two-thirds of the congregation voted to dissolve. Members said it definitely wasn't an easy decision, but they felt it was necessary at this time.

"People who are faithful, but who are faithfully wise," said Pastor Olson.

After November 4th, the church becomes the property of First Lutheran Cemetery, which is incorporated. Also, a First Lutheran Church Preservation Committee will do what it can to maintain the church.

Knowing the church will be preserved made the decision to dissolve a little easier for congregation member Bruce Ehler.

"That's huge for me. I grew up on a farm right across the road, and I live just a half mile down the road, so for me it's not as difficult because I get to drive by the church everyday, and as long as we can keep that, I definitely feel better about it," said Bruce Ehler.

First Lutheran Church has a long history of faithful people, and Pastor Olson is confident they'll be people of god no matter where they worship

"That people will join and be a gift to other congregations that the gift of faith-filled living will continue," said Olson.

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