Faith Lutheran rallies around Wesley United
Provides Marshfield Respite Care with temporary home
By Thom Gerretsen
MARSHFIELD – A block party was supposed to reach out to the neighbors of Marshfield’s Faith Lutheran Church. But more so, it provided comfort and support to a neighboring congregation that lost its church in a fire Sept. 2.
On Sept. 6, about 150 people prayed, ate comfort food, played games, chatted and made donations to Wesley United Methodist Church, which was destroyed two blocks west of Faith Lutheran at 205 E. Third St. Members of both congregations attended the block party outside Faith Lutheran at 207 S. Cherry Ave. They were joined by leaders of other Marshfield churches, community service groups, and the city’s Fire and Rescue Department. Many in the crowd applauded when a fire truck and an ambulance drove by.
“That gave me goose bumps,” said Fire Chief Scott Owen.
Faith Lutheran’s pastor, Rev. Gisele Berninghaus, said she returned home from a walk that Sunday when her husband asked how she’d help a pastor who just lost her church. She asked Wesley’s pastor, Rev. Lourdes Magalhaes, what’s needed most. By that Tuesday, the Marshfield Area Respite Care Center – headquartered at Wesley for 23 years – moved into a temporary new home in Faith Lutheran’s lower level community room. The center provides social day care and other services for those with dementia, so their caregivers can have some personal time for things like errands. It’s normally open on weekdays, and center Director Marilyn Seidl-Kramer did not want to miss a beat.
“I wanted it open on Tuesday for families that needed it,” said Seidl-Kramer, who called the fire “a shock and heartbreaking.” Her facility also hosted meetings of support groups for those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. “We’ll meet somewhere,” she said. Faith Lutheran also received a request to host meetings of TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), which was also in the Wesley building.
Meanwhile, the Thursday block party was scheduled before the fire – and with a 137-year-old church in need, Berninghaus said it made sense to reach out to those who suffered losses. Magalhaes, the Wesley cleric, was very appreciative to be a part of Faith Lutheran’s block party.
“Events like this mean so much,” she said. “It’s a blessing, and it’s important to celebrate friendship.”
Victims of major tragedies often ask why God lets such things happen. Ministers are no exceptions. Magalhaes’ answer: “Just trust in Him. He knows tomorrow.”
Until Wesley United Methodist can rebuild, Magalhaes said the congregation will hold its Sunday services at 9 a.m. at Marshfield’s Seventh Day Adventist Church, 714 W. 14th St. Also, an Act of Thanksgiving for Wesley’s recovery is scheduled from 1:30-2 p.m. Sept. 9 outside the destroyed church.