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Shepherd of the Lakes making a move

FAIRMONT — The congregation of Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Fairmont has long been preparing for a move that will increase the church’s visibility and accessibility, as well as meet its growing space needs.

Fortunately, just such a location recently became available. The church will move to the former Salvation Army Corps Center at 114 E. Blue Earth Ave. There will be a wait before the move is complete, but Pastor Jason Zuehlke discussed where things stand now.

“We just started some demolition on the inside, so we’re hoping to start the renovation in February sometime,” he said. “The process had started years ago before I got here, and the church had purchased a trailer court in hopes of building a brand new building there.

“Financially, we had a little trouble trying to get that figured out, but then the Salvation Army put their building up for sale so we purchased that. Now we’re in the process of renovating the inside of that instead of building brand new.”

Zuehlke believes the new location will aid the church’s outreach capabilities.

“Right now we’re just one block north of Blue Earth Avenue and yet no one knows where that church is,” he said. “So it’s right in a great area for reaching out to people. It’s also a lot more accessible.

“Right now we don’t have any handicap accessibility where we’re at, and even some of our own members don’t come because they can’t get in easily and the steps we have are like climbing Everest for them.

“It’s all ground-level; there are no stairs in this new place whatsoever, and it’s got a lot more room. It offers a lot more availability for fellowship options and things like that.”

Zuehlke also noted there will be some classrooms that can be utilized for the church’s Sunday school and vacation Bible school programs.

As far as the current building is concerned, Zuehlke said another church in town may consider buying the facility.

“The plan is ultimately to sell it,” he said. “I don’t have a whole lot of details but we have a couple other people who are working on that.”

Overall, Zuehlke says the buzz around the church is palpable.

“The congregation is very excited to be able to hold more activities there, and hopefully get some people back that haven’t been there in a while,” he said. “It’s very exciting and we’re pretty joyous to have this place. You can tell by their willingness to help out and try to get things moved around and organized at that new place.

“I wish I had a more specific date, but when we do get in there we’re hoping to have a dedication service. We’d like to invite the community to that and we’re hoping to have some activities and things going on. We’re glad to be able to have a new place to be able to serve the community now.

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