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Wadena Evangelical marks 100 years, expects another 100

Photo by Sara Hacking Wadena Evangelical Church celebrated its 100th anniversary last weekend.1 / 2
Preparing for Eternity2 / 2

Wadena Evangelical has experienced a lot of changes since organizing in 1909. Joining the Evangelical Church of North America in the 1960s, building expansions and singing contemporary music are just a few.

The church honored its 100th anniversary this Saturday with a party in Sunnybrook Park.

The anniversary was an opportunity to celebrate the continued growth of the church, said the Rev. Jeff Heisler. The congregation has doubled in the past two years. It was really encouraging to see the number of new faces that really took ownership of the church's big party, he said. On Sunday they looked at God's faithfulness and how long he's allowed them to be here.

Long-time member Bernice Geiser, 77, first attended with her family in 1950 until 1952. She returned to Wadena in 1974 and has gone ever since. Church is a family affair for Geiser, and quite a few of her brothers and sisters also attend.

"I always look forward to going to church," Geiser said. "It's just a great place to worship."

Geiser lives at Humphrey Manor and attends a weekly Bible study September through May led by her brother-in-law Chuck Lamason, the senior's minister. He and his wife, Janet, returned to be near her family, the Trosens, in 2005. Lamason first served the church as a minister in 1969, which was also the first year the Holiness Methodist Church belonged to the ECNA.

The ECNA was formed in 1968 by Evangelical United Brethren Church congregations and ministers who declined to enter the newly formed United Methodist Church, according to Wadena Evangelical's Web site.

There have been a lot of changes since the years he first served, Lamason said. The building has changed several times and the worship style and music are different.

The congregation used to sing out of the hymn book, Geiser said.

Although there have been many changes in the building and the church service itself, one thing has stayed the same.

"When the morning service comes you know it's going to be from the Bible," Geiser said. "We've had some good ministers."

New ideas are ongoing at the church. Beginning Sept. 5 the church is starting a 6 p.m. Saturday service, Heisler said. It's a way of celebrating the church's growth.

The church has reached out and given to the community, Heisler said.

Wadena Evangelical sponsors the Wadena's Biggest Loser contest and holds Celebrate Recovery, a recovery ministry based on biblical principles.

When people realize you're not there for yourself, they want to be a part of that, Heisler said.

"We expect to be here another 100 years," he said.