Service recreates dedication from 50 years ago
By Myra Holmes
Attendance at Salem MB Church doubled July 10 for the rededication of their building, originally dedicated July 10, 1966.
Salem MB Church, rural Bridgewater, SD, marked half a century in their building with a celebration and rededication service July 10, 50 years to the day after the building’s original dedication.
While Salem MB is much older than 50 years—the church was founded 130 years ago in 1886—the dedication of the building was a “momentous time” for those who call the church home, according to Salem member Mary Ann Gross. “We wanted to remember this time by having a special worship service of celebration, rededication and glorifying God,” she says.
Organizers recreated original service
The Sunday celebration attempted to recreate as many elements of the original dedication service as possible. The theme for the day, “Glory fills the house of the Lord,” mirrored that of the original service, the choir sang an arrangement that included music from 50 years ago and Scripture readings were from the same passages.
Lynn Jost, pictured left, whose father, Franklyn Jost, was pastor at the time the church was built, was the guest speaker, and his sermon title was the same as that of the sermon his father preached at the dedication: “Glory fills the house of the Lord.” Jost encouraged attendees to look beyond the church walls, not “hiding in bunkers” but bringing the glory of God to the world around.
An estimated 135-145 people joined the congregation—which averages about 60 on a typical Sunday—for the rededication celebration. Gross says many still consider Salem MB their “home” church, even though they may now live elsewhere.
Using a litany of dedication from the original service, the congregation rededicated the building for continued service to God. “In loving remembrance of all those, past and present, who by their love, their talents and gifts and by their prayers have contributed to this work of the Lord, and confident that the Lord of the Church shall continue to bless us, his children, we do here and now rededicate ourselves anew to the teaching of God’s Word in both precept and practice,” it says in part.
The celebration concluded with a meal and time of sharing. Many lingered, reconnecting and continuing the sharing informally.
Grateful to original builders
The Salem church building was planned and built on the same lot as the former building and has changed little over 50 years. Gross says that’s thanks to careful planning and God-given foresight on the part of those who had a hand in the building. For example, all essential meeting places and bathrooms are on one level, meeting handicap accessibility guidelines long before they were required. Classrooms are intentionally small in order to foster small gatherings and relationship-building. Even the kitchen was planned so carefully that it still serves quite well.
“The people who built the church did a great, great job in planning,” Gross says.
The original cost of the building was $136,700, which would be over $1 million in today’s costs—a sum that likely would not be possible today, Gross notes. In addition to the financial sacrifice that made the building possible, many in the congregation gave their time and talent: 6,617 hours of volunteer labor, 47 days of donated tractors or loaders and 616 loads of materials hauled.
“We are very grateful; that’s why we celebrated,” Gross says. “Those of us who lived through that building process really, really appreciate the edifice that God has given us to worship in every Sunday morning.”