Footprints for Future Generations
In 1979, Rev. Zimmerman and Marty Piotrowsky attended some of the conferences that the Kansas District LCMS was holding to promote Christian early childhood education and the spark began to flicker brighter for Christian education. After visiting with leaders at Faith Emporia, and particularly with Lois Vogel of Our Savior Lutheran in Kansas City, it was decided to poll the families with young children at Faith to see if they would be interested in sending their little ones to a preschool at church. An ad was also placed in the Ottawa Herald. The vast majority of the parents (and many grandparents too) were in favor of the opportunity of more in depth Christian education for their youngsters. There was not much response from the community at that point. Preschool was a novel idea at the time. Community response came later.
In the October council meeting, it was decided to approach the voters to see if they would approve starting a preschool at Faith. After much discussion, they gave their permission but made it clear that, beyond supplying the classroom space, the preschool should not expect financial support. Their approval and a place to meet was all it took and the search for a teacher began. With plans to open the doors in early January, 1980, the committee turned to Marty Piotrowsky and asked her to consider the job of teacher/director. The Piotrowsky’s youngest child was not a year old at the time and Marty really hadn’t planned to go back to work just then, but seeing the need accepted the position.
A few new materials were ordered and gently used toys and books were graciously donated by members. The first day of class was Monday, January 14, 1980. We had a small but hopeful beginning with just six students. They included: Sherri Daniels Burton, Ginger Knight Davis, Lori Johnson Folson, Eric Piotrowsky, Robert Reed, and Melissa Yeager Rictor. The flame was beginning to grow.
The school grew and now has eighty students in four classes. Stephanie Circle is currently the Director of the Preschool. She began her tenure in 1998.
The Lord has been good to us over the years and has blessed the efforts of Faith Lutheran. Many little ones have heard the message of Jesus and His great love for us. Until we reach heaven, we may never know just how much we meant to these children as they grew up. To God be the Glory for the things He has done!
In 1992 the congregation saw the need for a Director of Education. Pete Lang was called to serve in this capacity and worked with our Sunday School Superintendents and mid-week Bible classes to develop a strong ethic of Bible study in our children. After Pete left for the Seminary the lay leaders continued the development of this program in to the LOGOS program we have today. Pete also worked to develop a program to meet the needs of our high school students.
Footprints to 15th and Eisenhower
The impetus to move from the 12th and Cedar location to 15th and Eisenhower came with the gift from Gertrude Blum whose family owned and operated a grocery store in Ottawa. Although she was not living in Ottawa at the time of her death, Gertrude Blum named Faith Lutheran Ottawa as one of her beneficiaries. Her gift to the church was $370,000. The money came with God’s timing. While some felt the money could be used for missions or an addition to our savings account, others saw the money as the hand of God beckoning them to the next step in God’s plan for Faith to play in the community. The congregation was considering what they could do to grow. The same issues of how to spend money were present. There was no shared vision on a long range plan for the growth of the congregation.
At about this time the owner of what is now ORV had determined the land west of Twyman was surplus for his purposes. He put the land on the market. This action came to the attention of Marty Burik. He shared the information with others in the congregation, and they contacted John Peiman, an accountant with expertise in charitable donations. John worked with the ORV land owner and worked out a way to make the property affordable to us and a charitable donation for the land owner. Faith bought half the block and he donated the other half.
Once the land was purchased, the congregation needed to fund a building. Two funding campaigns were done to gather the needed money for building a new facility. At about this time a local dairy farmer, Roy Sandstrom, was looking for a facility to worship in. Pilgrim Bible Church was able to purchase the building at 12th and Cedar as a result of his contribution to them.
Faith Lutheran continued to worship at the old church until the spring of 2002. The auditorium at Garfield Elementary School was rented as a place of worship until the new church was ready for occupation. The first service at 15th and Eisenhower was June of 2002. A procession from the church at 12th and Cedar to the new facility was led by Pastor Duran carrying the cross, followed by the Sunday School classes and those adults who were able to walk some or all of the distance. The church dedication was on October 6, 2002.
Leaving Footprints at 15th and Eisenhower
Faith made great strides after its move to its current location. The spirit of evangelism was rekindled during the Forty Days of Purpose program. This strong focus on Bible study, coupled with outreach, opened the church to the community. The members of the church worked diligently to make this congregation a place for all to worship. Through the strong leadership of Pastor Duran and the leadership of its members, Faith began experimenting with its worship services in an effort to strike a balance between different worship styles. Vivian Massaglia began developing a contemporary music program which was further developed by Scott Dawson in 2005. The contemporary worship service coupled with the traditional service was key to the success of becoming a leading church in the community.
Space in our new church building was very carefully planned in order to accommodate our growth. As a result, we have a larger sanctuary with areas for overflow, more Sunday School classrooms, a sacristy that enables those serving on altar care to more easily carry out their duties, a kitchen with the necessary appliances to provide church dinners, a fellowship hall that will accommodate our church dinners and other functions, and an enlarged preschool classroom and playground.
Although we were moving into a beautiful new building, there were still items that we needed but had not been funded. We sold the organ with the building at 12thand Cedar. With budget constraints regarding our new building, there was much discussion about purchasing a new organ. The members felt that an organ was an integral part of our worship service but how was it going to be funded. From 2000-2002, money received from donations and memorial money enabled our congregation to purchase the $24,000 organ which played at our first service.
From 2002-2004, over $4000 from memorials and donations were collected and used for landscaping since this was not included in our original building cost. A handbell choir was added in 2007. A sister church in Omaha, Nebraska was disbanding and we were able to purchase their handbells for $5600. Our sanctuary has several large windows at the front but there was no stained glass. Many members felt a church needed to have stained glass windows so a fund was established. It took several years to raise the $35,000, but by 2008 the money was there due to memorials and donations and fundraising efforts as LWML dinners, with the proceeds contributed to the fund.
Although our fellowship hall was being used for many activities, it was limited in its use because of the “echo” of all the sound in the area. A $25,000 sound proofing system in 2008, and an approximately $10,000 sound system in 2009 now allows full use of the fellowship hall. Once again, these were not budgeted items, but rather were made possible through memorial money and donations.
Because of our larger facility, we have been blessed with new opportunities and programs. Our mid-week program was expanded in 2003 when we began our LOGOS program. During the 2008-2009 school year approximately 75 children attended LOGOS and over 35 dedicated adults volunteered each week.
Our fellowship hall has a stage and, with the addition of the sound system, can now be used for a variety of activities. The first musical presented was entitled 100% Chance of Rain and was performed by children in grades 1-8 who attended LOGOS. What a great production!
Our preschool has seen growth in enrollment since we moved into our new church building. Last year 80 families enrolled their children in our preschool classes. Only 9 families were members of our church. Of the remaining families, approximately 37 did not have a church home.
Faith has given seminary assistance to Ron Rather, a former member of our congregation and to Peter Lange, a former DCE of Faith. Both are now ordained ministers. Our church has the largest number of trained deacons and lay assistants of any church in the state. We have had 5 men and 4 women complete the intensive 2 year training since 2000. Their commitment to Bible study and being servants is evident in their activities in our church and other area churches when needed.
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