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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Barn worship

When St. Mark Lutheran, Randolph, Minn., sold its building last year, the congregation needed temporary worship space until its new building was completed in December. It found a home — in June, members packed all the church's possessions and moved into Tom and Pat Otte's barn.

Pat Ondarko, pastor, says the congregation possessed a "joyful flexibility." Worshipers grew accustomed to Ben, the three-legged dog who might wander in during services. When mice ate the communion wafers, a member baked bread. Blankets were left in the pews for visitors who weren't prepared for the chilly barn.

Much of the new building was completed with donated supplies and volunteer labor, but Ondarko said the congregation never lost sight of its larger mission.

"While some of our members worked on the building one weekend, others walked in the CROP Walk," she said. "We continue to support our overseas missionaries as well as the other commitments we have made with our benevolences."

Fittingly, the Christmas Eve children's program was to be held in the barn, with hay bales serving as pews. There was no mention of whether Ben the dog had a role.



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