Brew & Renew
Small Town Church Thinks Big to Reach Out to Their Community and Beyond
By Ley Bouchard
The Promoter - check out The Promoter and Heritage Publications
I grew up in the Halstad Lutheran Church (HLC). Born in Hendrum, moved to Halstad before my first birthday, I went to church and Sunday School every Sunday. Easter was special as Mom made my sister, Sharon, and I matching dresses and we went to church even more polished than on regular Sundays. It was a different time in the ‘50s and ‘60s. One would never consider going to church in jeans and a t-shirt. The church and the activities were the center of the community.
We rarely left the farm except for church until I was five. Then there was kindergarten … held in the old church. HLC was on the north side of Halstad then. I met many of my lifelong friends in church school and kindergarten, which was also in the church basement. We celebrated our 50th class reunion the summer of 2019 and most of us attended Sunday school, kindergarten, elementary, and high school together. We even had Wednesday church school back in the day. We would leave school, walk to the church, walk back to school and finish the day. Saturday confirmation classes, of course, were at the church.
Those were the days of Pastor Chester Oleson. He was a godly man and scary tough! We didn’t get by with a thing for confirmation classes. I have never since had to memorize so much! Under the pressure of standing up in the front of the congregation we had to randomly recite whichever verse Pastor Oleson would call on us to say.
I married in Halstad Lutheran Church as many of my classmates did. The Ladies Aid honored me with a bridal shower in the fellowship hall where for so many years we had Sunday school and confirmation classes. All of our confirmation pictures hang in that fellowship hall. Think of the history in that one room alone. All of this from a single building, a single fellowship of community, a home away from home and our place of solitude with God even when we are in the group of worshippers.
Rural America is changing as the churches, and schools, change and adapt. Brilliant ideas provide a way to survive. Consolidation and thinking outside the box, finding new ways to renew the faith and bring people together as a community.
Hence “Brew and Renew” and a combination of other ideas to bring folks to the church for activities other than church.
Brew and Renew at Halstad Lutheran Church is a new concept to create different ways in which to use the church space “It started when we began cleaning and reorganizing the church,” says Kristi Melting, President of the HLC Council. “ We realized nothing had been painted or been improved for 30 years, since 1990. So it started with cleaning, painting and organizing the kitchen and then we realized we had extra donations from when we do our annual rummage sale and so we thought instead of doing an annual rummage sale, why not take it out and do it monthly. So it kind of blossomed into repurposing and making it a monthly thrift store. We also saw a need in the community for a gathering space so we added a coffee shop area and tried to make the fellowship hall a little more inviting.”
We are open every Saturday from 10am - 2pm and every third Wednesday from 5pm - 7pm.