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Celebration Service
for the Retirement of a Debt

Shiloh Lutheran Church, Walton, IN
10:30 a.m.  24 October 1999

Liturgy by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

 

This is a really fun service, as it should be for the retirement of a debt.  This order includes the prayers from the Occasional Services 1982, but is greatly expanded to include a retelling of the church's history in processional stations and the use of incense along with a burning pot upon the altar for burning the mortgage.  In this ways the prayers of joy and thanksgiving rise in sweet offering to God for the blessings of this day.

 

 

GATHERING

Prelude

 

Exhortation:

P.  Significant milestones in the life of a congregation require significant celebration and marking of such milestones with a sense of history of how it is that God has brought us to this place. Today we celebrate the retiring of the debt for our beautiful Fellowship Hall and in due course give up our prayers or thanks with the burning of that mortgage. But before we do that, let us review our own history and the building projects that have occurred in these 139 years of Shiloh’s life. Let us take a short walk through that history, praising God and giving thanks for all that God has graciously given us.

 

A:  God blesses us abundantly with good gifts in every season.
C.  Give thanks and praise to the Lord, our God.

 

A.  God brings to completion all his works.
C.  Thank the Lord for working in our midst.

 

A.  All things become possible with the Lord’s help.
C.  Let us follow the Lord in all that we do.

 

A SHORT WALK THROUGH HISTORY

Processional Hymn:     “The Church’s One Foundation”

Weather permitting, the crucifer leads the ministers and people
outdoors to the place of the first church at 404 E. Bishop St.

 

1. The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord.
    She is his new creation By water and the Word.
    From heav’n he came and sought her To be his holy bride;
    With his own blood he bought her, And for her life he died.

 

2. Elect from ev’ry nation, Yet one o’er all the earth;
    Her charter of salvation: One Lord, one faith, one birth.
    One holy name she blesses, Partakes one holy food,
    And to one hope she presses With ev’ry grace endued.

 

The First Church

        Shiloh Lutheran Church was established on November 1, 1860 under the leadership of Pastor Jacob N. Barnett with the charter signed by 10 members from the new Walton Community. For the balance of that year, worship occurred in various places in town and at the Anoka School. Early in 1861, a lot at the end of Bishop Street was donated by James Bennett, a new member of the church, for the building of a house of worship, built at the present location of the church parsonage. Pastor Barnett and members of the church did the building themselves. It was a very slow project with few members and fewer financial resources in the fledgling church. Brick had to be made at the site instead of purchased. Enough of the shell was in place that the second communion service was held in the building one year after the charter signing and worship continued to occur in the shell until its completion nine years later. Although Pastor Barnett had by then moved on to another call, he returned for the service of dedication on the 15th of May 1870. When finished, the church was a 36 by 40 foot single-story structure with small A-frame, plain walls, uncarpeted floors, and benches consisting of rough boards set on blocks. The cost was about $1,200. As the years went on, pews were added, the walls papered, and a hand-pumped organ was installed.

 

A.  God willed it and it was done.
C.  And the people of Shiloh were filled with faith and zeal for the mission of the Lord.

 

Processional Hymn Continues::

During the hymn the crucifer leads the minister and people to
the corner of Bishop and Davis streets.

3. Though with a scornful wonder This world sees her oppressed,
    By schisms rent asunder, By heresies distressed,
    Yet saints their watch are keeping; Their cry goes up: "How Long?”
    And soon the night of weeping Shall be the morn of song.

 

The Parsonages

        On Oct. 1, 1870, Shiloh was officially incorporated in the county seat of Logansport. One month later, a lot owned by John M. Bottenberg, a Shiloh member, was purchased to the north and east of the church, for the purpose of building a permanent parsonage. Pastors had lived in rented space prior to this time. The present Fellowship Hall sits upon that new lot that was purchased in 1870. The purchase price of the lot was $75.00.

        Construction on the parsonage began the following year, while the Church Council looked for a new pastor. At the beginning of February 1872, the Rev. Samuel Kelso became pastor. The following September, he was able to move into the new parsonage, a small two story structure with a small barn behind. The barn cost was $18. The minutes show that individual pledges of $140 were asked for, but no total cost of the construction is found in the records.

        When a larger parsonage was built in 1922, the old parsonage was auctioned off and moved to 502 E. May Street where it still stands today.

        The construction of the new parsonage was voted on in February 17 of 1922 and the building committee told to spend no more than $3,500. It would be located on the site of the original church, which had been removed in 1905. Construction began shortly after the vote and was completed in June of that same year. The newly called Pastor William F. Barnett, the grandson of the founding pastor, was the first occupant of the new parsonage with his family.

 

A.  God willed it and it was done.
C.  And the people of Shiloh were filled with faith and zeal for the mission of the Lord.

 

The Second Church

        The first church, being somewhat poorly constructed because of the small finances of the church of the first ten years of Shiloh’s history, began showing signs of major wear by the turn of the century. On March 14, 1904, the congregation voted to begin building a new church on the empty lot that stood between the first church and the first parsonage. The cornerstone was laid on July 31 of that same year, and the building nearly completed by year’s end. Dedication occurred on February 12, 1905. The previous evening, a final service was held in the old church, at which time a history of the congregation was read and appropriate prayers and thanksgivings made to God. The next morning, in subzero weather with snow and ice all around, members met again at the old church and processed to the new church, where the keys were given by the building committee to Shiloh’s Pastor, the Rev. George Ritter, who unlocked the doors and led the congregation of 90 members into their new house of worship singing “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.”

        The original estimates of the building cost in the spring of 1904 had been $4,000. At the time of dedication the actual cost had risen to $7,000. Still the $3,000 difference was raised by the end of the dedication service to pay off the building.

        The former church was actually auctioned off in mid-January, with instructions that it be removed after the dedication but before April 1. There is no record of who bought the church or the location where it was moved.

 

A.  God willed it and it was done.
C.  And the people of Shiloh were filled with faith and zeal for the mission of the Lord.

 

Processional Hymn Continues:

During the hymn the crucifer leads the ministers and people
to the property across from the church.

4. Through toil and tribulation And tumult of her war,
    She waits the consummation Of peace forevermore;
    Till with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest,
    And the great Church victorious Shall be the Church at rest.

 

Addition to Shiloh’s Property

        Following the building of the new church in 1904 and the new parsonage in 1922, there was little done to add to the property of the church beyond building maintenance and improvement of existing property. An opportunity to expand Shiloh’s property became available in 1994 when a lot and a half at 106 N. Davis Street belonging to Kenneth and Mary Myers was put up for sale. Though located diagonally across the street from the rest of the property, it seemed an opportunity for off-street parking for the church. Three anonymous donors, one being a member of the church, purchased the property for the price of $4,500 and donated it to Shiloh. The property was dedicated in October 1994.

 

A.  God willed it and it was done.
C.  And the people of Shiloh were filled with faith and zeal for the mission of the Lord.

 

Processional Hymn

During the hymn, the crucifer leads the ministers and people
to the doors of the Fellowship Hall.

5. Yet she on earth has union With God, the Three in One,
    And mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won.
    O Blessed heav’nly chorus! Lord, save us by your grace,
    That we, like saints before us, May see you face to face.

 

The New Fellowship Hall

        After a long period of decline, the late 1980s and 1990s became a very faith-filled and spiritually prosperous time in the life and ministry of Shiloh Lutheran Church.

        The germ of a what would later become a new building project was made in the first donation that established the Handicap Access Fund, made in the amount of $100 by a retired pastor, the Rev. Birt Harris, who served as interim pastor in the fall of 1986. After the arrival of Pastor Thomas Weitzel in January of 1987, a great period of parish renewal and dedication to mission began in earnest. During those years, various projects went into fundraising for handicap access, without any particular sense of where the fund might lead, except in some way to address the many steps around and in the church.

        By 1991, a committee was established to consider precisely what form this handicap access might be. In recognizing some of the other limits of the present church, the committee boldly suggested to the congregation that a new Fellowship Hall of about 2,400 square feet on ground level with handicap access bathrooms and indoor ramp access to the worship level be added to the north of the church. The size proposed would add nearly another two thirds to the building of 1904. More than that, the committee recognized with a great sense of outreach and mission that the proposed building would be a great offering to the community of Walton, being unlike any other in size or accessibility in the entire town.

        Much care went into the planning of the new hall so that it would blend well with the older structure of nearly a century before.

        After a major fundraising effort in the spring of 1993, the congregation voted in mid-June to build the proposed Fellowship Hall. Over the next two years, bids were sought and received in a process that took much longer than expected. Groundbreaking occurred Dec. 11, 1994 with the Rev. Bishop Ralph Kempski presiding with Pastor Weitzel.

        Actual construction did not occur however until late July of 1995, over two years after the vote to build.. The Cornerstone was dedicated on All Saints’ Sunday of that year as the congregation celebrated its 135th anniversary. The shell was complete by year’s end, but heavy snows during the winter of 1995-96 prevented brick work from proceeding until the spring.

        Men and women of the church and even the pastor helped wherever possible, including placing insulation in the crawl space, in the rafters inside the building, pounding down floor boards to make them solid before carpet and linoleum was laid, running electricity and lighting for both the hall and the stained glass window that was covered by the new building, choosing flooring style and colors, picking out new appliances for the new kitchen and stocking it with many new items, and even staining oak trim which was eventually placed throughout the finished interior.

        The new Fellowship Hall was dedicated on August 25, 1996 in a great afternoon celebration that included a lovely buffet. The Rev. Bishop Ralph Kempski and two of his assistants, Sue Hermodson and Pastor Charles Schroeder presided at the special service along with Pastor Weitzel.

        Original estimates for the cost of the building at the time of the congregational vote in 1993 had been about $80,000. With a two year delay in finding a general contractor and the increase in building materials during that same period, the final cost when combined with the reroofing of the old church to match the roof of the new structure brought the total cost to about $138,000. And yet, at the time of dedication, the fundraising efforts of nearly ten years left only $55,000 to be financed.

        Today, in a short and blessed three years, we completely retire that debt of $55,000 and give praise to Almighty God for the blessings of all our buildings and our properties.

        All of Shiloh’s buildings and properties stand as a testimony to spirit-filled, dedicated members, guided by God’s hand and his holy mission. They stand as well in testimony to what big things God can do even with small churches with small memberships. “For truly I tell you,” says Christ, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt.17:20).

 

A.  God willed it and it was done.
C.  And the people of Shiloh were filled with faith and zeal for the mission of the Lord.

 

Processional Hymn:     “Now Thank We All Our God”

During the hymn, the crucifer leads the ministers and people
through the Fellowship Hall doors and back into the worship space.

 

1. Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices,
    Who wondrous things has done, In whom his world rejoices;
    Who, from our mothers’ arms, Has blest us on our way
    With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

 

2. Oh, may this bounteous God Through all our life be near us.
    With ever joyful hearts And blessed peace to cheer us,
    And keep us in his grace, And guide us when perplexed,
    And free us from all harm In this world and the next.

 

3. All praise and thanks to God The Father now be given,
    The Son, and him who reigns With them in highest heaven,
    The one eternal God, Whom earth and heav’n adore;
    For thus it was, is now, And shall be evermore.

 

Prayer of the Day:

P.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C.  And also with you.

 

P.  Let us pray. Most High God, whom the heavens cannot contain, we give you thanks for the gifts of those who have built our Fellowship Hall, this house of prayer, and all our properties to your glory. We praise you for the fellowship of those who by their use have made this a holy place. And we pray that all who seek you here may find you and be filled with your joy and peace; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
C.  Amen

 

 

WORD

First Lesson:   Ephesians 1:3-19

St. Paul writes,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory. I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

      The word of the Lord
C.  Thanks be to God.

All stand and sing:

 

C.  Alleluia! Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia!

 

Gospel Lesson:   St. John 14:6-12

P.  The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the fourteenth chapter.
C.  (sing) Glory to you, O Lord.

 

P.  Jesus said to his disciples, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

 

P.  The Gospel of the Lord!
C.  (sing) Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Sermon

Hymn of the Day  “I Love Your Kingdom, Lord”

During the hymn two coals are lighted from an altar candle
and placed in an open bowl filled two-thirds with gravel
at the front center of the altar.

 

Nicene Creed

 

Prayers at the Retiring of a Debt
with Burning of a Mortgage:

P.  Since 1986 when the first donation to the Handicap Access Fund was made, there has hardly been a man, woman or child who has passed through our doors who has not in some way contributed to the growth of that fund, the building of the Fellowship Hall and the retirement of our debt which we celebrate today. Ice cream socials, bake sales, youth fundraising projects, rummage sales, raffles, matching funds from Lutheran Benevolent Agencies, individual donations and memorials from the blessed saints and friends of our church who have died -- all have contributed to bring us to this day.

    Let us raise our prayers of thanks to Almighty God for the good work he has done among us. As in Biblical times, we will let our prayers rise with incense to the altar of God until the sweet smell of our burned mortgage reaches heaven on high with our prayers to become an acceptable offering to God.

 

A spoonful of incense is placed upon a burning coal in
the open bowl upon the altar.

 

A.  Let our prayers rise before you as incense, O Lord:
C.  And let our prayers and thanksgivings be a fragrant offering in your presence. Psalm 141:2, Philippians 4:18

 

A.  For from the rising of the sun to its setting God’s name is great among the nations,
C.  and in every place incense is offered to his name; “for my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of hosts.   Malachi 1:11

 

P.  Almighty God, our prayers rise before you in thanksgiving for all that you have done among us -- for your blessings of property, buildings, faith, purpose and mission. Fill us constantly with faith and the inspiration of your creative Spirit, that we might follow your lead all our days, and continue to be visionaries in spreading our mission beyond ourselves for the sake of your holy kingdom. We ask this in Jesus name.
C.  Amen

Another spoonful of incense is added to the bowl.

 

A.  Zechariah of old offered incense before the Lord:
C.  And outside all the people were praying.

 

A.  And an angel appeared by the altar of incense and said to him:
C.  Your prayers have been answered. You and Elizabeth shall have a son, and his name shall be John, and he will be great before the Lord.   Luke 1:10-15

 

P.  Lord God of the living and the dead, we give you thanks and high praise for all those who have done so much to offer themselves as a living sacrifice for the purpose of building and then retiring our debt. In humbleness we ask you to remember especially our blessed dead, both members and friends of Shiloh, whose memorial contributions have survived beyond their days to assist us and attest to their faith in God’s mission here at Shiloh: Horace and Mae Beckley, Wilbur Mehaffie, Alma Boe, Edgar Phillips, Clark and Beulah Snell, Dorotha Layman, Floyd Wakeford, Dick Shedron, Rick Henseleit, Leona Patterson, Helen Hoekman, Hobert Turner, Marjorie Lambert, Lowell and Wilma Bruner, Joan Swearingen, Julia Ralston Skogebo, John Bruner, and Vida Gallaway. Peace eternal grant them, O Lord.
C.  And may perpetual light shine upon them. Amen

Another spoonful of incense is added to the bowl.

 

A.  An angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar of God;
C.  he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints.

 

A.  And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints,
C.  rose before God from the hand of the angel.    Revelation 8:3-4

 

P.  Almighty and ever loving God, it is to you that we offer ourselves, our buildings and properties, and now the retirement of our indebtedness. As this canceled mortgage burns with the incense, may its smoke rise to your altar in heaven with all our prayers and thanksgivings, and be a sweet smelling offering in your presence, acceptable to you for the sake of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
C.  Amen

The mortgage is lighted with fire from a candle on the altar
and placed within the bowl of incense to burn.
When the mortgage is completely burned,
the minister offers the following acclamation:

 

P.  People of God, our prayers have been heard and accepted. We are blessed, and we are debt free!
C.  Thanks be to God!

The people may applaud the acclamation.

 

Peace

P.  The peace of the Lord be with you always.
C.  And also with you.

All greet one another in the name of the Lord, saying
Peace be with you. Afterwards, the people are seated.

 

 

MEAL

Offering

Offertory Hymn (sing):

C.  We give thee but thine own, What e'er the gift may be; All that we have is thine alone, A trust, O Lord, from thee.

 

Offertory Prayer:

A.  Let us pray. Gracious Lord,
C.  we offer to you a part of ourselves and a part of our church: brick and mortar, wood and nail, bread and wine, offerings from our labor, hands to do your will, hearts that are ready to serve. Accept them for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Eucharistic Prayer of the Master Builder:

P.  The Lord be with you.
C.  And also with you.

 

P.  Lift up your hearts.
C.  We lift them to the Lord.

 

P.  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
C.  It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

P.  We give you thanks, Almighty God, for in the beginning, you set the earth upon its foundations and created all that exists. As master builder and architect of the universe, you fashioned the orders of the world and humankind in your own image. You built for yourself the kingdom of heaven and marked out the limits of the earth.

    And when your masterwork was complete, you called to yourself a people to be your own. You blessed them with gifts and made them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. And when they turned from you in their sin, you sent forth your own Son, a humble carpenter from Nazareth, to show us your love, to forgive us our sins, and to bring us into the eternal kingdom that you had built. It is he who has built us into a Church as living stones in your house of love.

    For all this, we praise you and join the hosts of heaven in their unending hymn:

C.  (sing) Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of pow'r and might: Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

 

P.  And so, Father, as living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, we who have been redeemed by him come humbly into your presence and gather at the table to which he has called us, that we might receive your grace, find strength to do your will, and continue to build for your kingdom.
      In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.
     Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.
     With joy and with thanksgiving, almighty God, we proclaim the mystery of faith:

C.  Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!

 

P.  Therefore, O Father, with this bread and cup, we remember all that the Savior taught and all that he promised. We remember his example of faith and his witness to your love.    We remember his establishment of the Church, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And we remember his life-giving sacrifice and death, his glorious resurrection, and his ascension to your right hand. We look to the day when he shall come again and announce to all the saved, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

C.  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

P.  We lift this bread and cup before you, O Lord, as an offering of sacrifice and praise. Send down your Holy Spirit upon these gifts, that they may be the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Send down your Holy Spirit upon us also, that, in the sharing of this bread and cup, we may be sanctified in grace and built into a holy fellowship of unity and peace.

C.  Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.

 

P.  Great Architect of our Salvation, accept our prayers and praises for the sake of him who is our High Priest, Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, your Church gives honor and glory forever and ever.

C.  Amen

 

P.  Lord, remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray:
C.  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen

 

Distribution

    Lamb of God

    Hymn  “God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending”

 

After Communion:

P.  The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and keep you in his grace.
C.  Amen

 

A.  Let us pray. We give you thanks for the great gift of your Son, our foundation and cornerstone, whose body and blood we shared today.  Through our communion, unite us as living stones in the building of Christ’s Church, and missionaries of your love in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
C.  Amen

 

 

SENDING

The Blessings:

P.  May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, and may the word of Christ dwell in you, so that all that you do in word and deed, you will do in the name of the Lord.
C.  Amen

 

P.  (sing) And may almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever.

C.  (sing) Amen

 

A.  Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
C.  Thanks be to God.

 

Closing Hymn  “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”

Postlude

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The Liturgy for today was written by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel especially for our celebration.