Life after death was a major concern for Lutheran Church of the Master, Edina, Minn. The church, which voted last year to fold and sell its property, felt strongly that the money raised from the sale should go to charities that would keep the church's name alive for years to come. That dream has come true.
In May, many members of Master, who were scattered and found roots with other congregations, reunited at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, to celebrate the distribution of more than $1 million to aid several causes.
The most money, $500,000, went to the ELCA Division for Global Mission to endow a missionary position in the church's name. A gift of several hundred thousand dollars was given to the ELCA Division for Outreach to start two African American congregations. And a gift was also directed to Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., to complete the endowment of the Dr. Fredrik A. Schiotz Chair of Christian Mission.
The sale of the property took longer than expected, said longtime member Lowell Hesterman, because the original developer wanted an office building on the site and neighbors balked.
The congregation found a new purchaser who bought the property to build an assisted living center for the elderly with Alzheimer's disease, which the community approved.
Ann Zuelke, a former member and secretary of Master who now attends St. Stephen, helped plan the service, which included music by Master's former organist and the original choir. They met for the first time in a year for a quick rehearsal before worship.
Seeing others from Master and finding out where old friends had gone was nice, Zuelke said. She likes her new congregation, but she still misses her old church.
"Even though we dissolved, the money we raised will help raise new congregations from the ashes," Hesterman said. "And with funding a missionary, our name will go on eternally."
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers