St. John’s had the great privilege of dedicating its new front steps on Easter Sunday. Addie Ketner, 104, who gave the funds for the renovation project, was in attendance, along with several family members.
“It was Easter-plus,” notes Addie’s son, Glenn. “Easter was the main event, but it was awful nice to have that dedication on Easter Sunday. My mother was deeply appreciative. I was just so glad she could be there and get a good look at them. Your front doors to the community need to be open, and many folks have told me how much they appreciate the new steps and coming in and out of the front doors again.”
Here’s what Pastor Rhodes had to say during the dedication:
“Long ago, in 1732, a gentleman named Benjamin Schmalk wrote a hymn called Open Wide Thy Gates of Beauty. He didn’t know, of course, that 15 years later, St. John’s Lutheran Church would be founded here in this community. From the very beginning, the church has been eager to open wide its own gates of beauty – for the sake of this community, for the sake of the world.
In a very practical sense, stairs help us to open wide our gates of beauty.
“And today, we gather together to dedicate stairs that are impossible to overlook at the front entrance to our church. It’s far more than just a set of Indiana limestone that helps us to get from bottom to top. There’s more to it than that. When the architect designed this church in 1927, he wanted the worshipper literally and figuratively to make a transition: from street level up into a more profound sense of worship. It was a discipline he thought was very important to the worshipper as they make that transition as they ascend those steps, that they come into a fuller appreciation of worship, and of God.
“These steps we dedicate today represent far more than just steps. They help to elevate us … not into a place that is closer to God, but into a more profound sense of worship. Now, sometimes, structures need to be replaced, or renovated, and these steps certainly did. They were built in 1927, and literally millions of feet have walked across them in that time period. It was time for them to be replaced.
“One of the first sets of feet to walk across those steps were from Addie Ketner, who was at the dedication of this facility in 1927 and is with us again today. We are so thankful for you to be here with us.
“Mrs. Ketner is so eager to be able to allow this dedication to happen. We thank you for your gift, for your stewardship of this congregation, and of this community. But you know as well as I that these are far more than just steps. In many respects, they represent a front door to the community. They represent an opportunity for all of us to enter into a fuller sense of worship.
“So, Mrs. Ketner, thank you for your gift to this congregation, but most especially for your love of God, which enabled that gift today.
“Let us pray: Blessed are you, O Lord God, king of the universe. Your gifts are many, and, in wisdom, you have made all things to give you glory. Be with us now, O Lord, and bless us as we dedicate these steps to your praise and honor. Give us joy in all your works, and grant that this congregation, this facility, this St. John’s church, may always be a place where your will is done and your name is glorified. Through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.”