Peace Lutheran breaks ground for new building

The weekend of Aug. 4-5 certainly was a special one for Watertown’s Peace Lutheran Church, which celebrated both its brief history and its promising future over the course of one busy weekend.

On Saturday, Aug. 4, the church celebrated its 2-year anniversary with a polo event fundraiser to raise money for landscaping at the site of its future church building. On Sunday, the church officially broke ground on that new structure on Highway 20, just two short years after the congregation began meeting at the Watertown Community Center on Aug. 1, 2010.

Peace’s Ministry Board President, Kristi Mittelstaedt, said the whole congregation is excited about making the next major step forward. The church already hired its first full-time pastor, Shannon Bauer, in January.

“Everybody is really gathering together,” Mittelstaedt said. “We’ve only been waiting a couple years and it came up pretty quick, but it’s really exciting.”

The church’s site plan was recently approved by the Watertown City Council. The church will be just east of Watertown-Mayer Elementary School and the site of the future Community Park on Highway 20, just outside of town. The 6,500 square foot building will include a worship area for up to 200 people, a large narthex, classrooms and several offices. The structure, being constructed by Nor-Son, Inc., is tentatively scheduled to be finished by Dec. 21, in time for Christmas services to be held in the new church.

“It’s an aggressive goal, but that’s what we’re hoping,” Mittelstaedt said. “We’ve dreamed of it, wondered if it would be possible. If we stay on schedule, that would be amazing. It would be a new birth in many ways.”

Mittelstaedt said the church members had always hoped the church and its building plans would progress quickly, but were never sure exactly how quickly was feasible or realistic. She said everybody felt this sort of a 2-year time table was possible, but didn’t know for sure until recently. Mittelstaedt said it was 2 year of hard work, strong financial support and an all-around team effort that made this schedule possible.

“It’s been hours and hours, weekly meetings, and with a small congregation, it’s a lot of work,” she said. “But different people have taken on different tasks, and have really headed them up and run with them.”

Mittelstaedt said the church has been blessed over its two years for the effort from its first pastor, Bruce Nelson, to get the church up and running, and to find Bauer to take over as the church’s full time pastor. Mittelstaedt said the church was also grateful for the arrangement to meet weekly on Sunday’s in the community center, but said a new building of its own will allow the church to move forward in ways that aren’t possible in the community center.

“We’d like to see an active church seven days a week,” she said. “Having our own space to actively serve God as a community is going to be exciting. People have really yearned for space. The community center has been great, and the city has worked with us well. It’s just that many members have missed having that church home.”

Several members of the city staff, most of the member’s of the Peace congregation and members of Nor-Son’s construction team were on hand for the Aug. 5 groundbreaking. A member of Christ Community Lutheran School presented the church with a bible in commemoration of the groundbreaking, and Mittelstaedt recapped how far the church has come in the last 2 years.

“It was amazing just getting ready and having the symbolic day with the gold shovels,” Mittelstaedt said. “We couldn’t have done all of this without God’s guidance.”