WHITEHALL – The Lebanon Lutheran Church of Whitehall hosted a celebration to honor their 150th Anniversary on September 10.

Aside from their sesquicentennial, the church also celebrated the renovations they have recently completed.

Donations raised during the church’s Capital Campaign made these renovations possible, and the church wanted to also use this event to celebrate and thank everyone that was able to contribute.

150 years ago, Swedish immigrants settled in Whitehall; they brought with them their heritage, their strong faith in God, and their Lutheran church background. These Swedish immigrants built what we now refer to as the Lebanon Lutheran Church.

The church was named after the beautiful cedar trees found on the land where the church was built.

“In the Bible the tallest and best cedar trees were the cedars found in Lebanon, and so when they saw the cedar trees on that block, they named the church for the cedars of Lebanon in the Old Testament,” says Doug Ogden, pastor at Lebanon Lutheran, “They were like the California redwoods of the Old Testament, just shockingly and impressively big.”

The massive faith held by the Swedish members mirrored the size of the cedar trees on the grounds, and the services were conducted in Swedish until the 1930s. It is important to the church that they continue to honor their Swedish heritage and history.

The unique Swedish folk art stencil work on the sanctuary walls was originally painted around 1930. The style of Swedish stencil work used throughout the church, referred to as kurbits, took time and hard work to replicate during renovations.

Paul Potter and Company referenced the original drawings from 1930, and required six weeks of careful work, by hand,to complete. In addition to the intricate kurbits painting, renovations included repainting the outside of the historic landmark church, a new roof installed by Dale Harris and new heating units.

Even though Ogden is proud of the physical renovations, to him it symbolizes so much more.

“We are not only upgrading the building, we are upgrading our whole approach to ministry,” says Ogden.

The church has really utilized technology and expanded their outreach with Facebook and Zoom. Ogden said he loves that by using different technologies and platforms, the church is able to reach people from all over the world.

The church hosted an outdoor dinner celebratory event as a thank you to all of the people who have supported, not just the Capital Campaign, but have also supported the church throughout the years.

The event consisted of dinner, socializing at a distance, worship at 7 p.m., and tours of the new renovations. During the event the church took groups of six through for a tour to see all of the renovations.

The church has ambitious projects in their near future including replacing the carpet in the church, as well as building a new scout facility.

The event on September 10 was an opportunity for anyone looking to get involved in supporting future projects to connect with the church. Those interested can call the church at (231) 893-5745 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.