Whenever I travel I keep my eye on the horizon for church steeples. I love to visit older churches to see the grandness of these works of art, and to marvel at the parishioner’s devotion to their faith and the many sacrifices made to see these structures built for the glory of God.
On my business trip last week to South Dakota, I noticed a church steeple rising out of the cornfields. A few days later I was able to visit this gem of the plains.
In 1878 a group of German settlers from Wisconsin moved out onto the open prairie of South Dakota. They built themselves a small wood frame church in 1882. Soon a small town began to grow up around the church and in 1885 the railroad came to town ensuring the community’s future growth. Just 9 years later in 1891, lightning caused a fire that severely damaged the little church. Undaunted, the parishioners built a larger wood frame church to suit their growing community. Tragically, in 1908, this church too burned to the ground. Determined to build a larger and more lasting structure, this time they planned a church of brick and stone, and just a year later they realized their dream.
The footprint of the church building honored their Savior and was built in the shape of a cross. In the ensuing years it was decorated with handmade altars, statues, stained glass from Europe, and a pipe organ was installed in the church balcony. Canvas paintings of biblical scenes were ordered from Germany and installed on the walls.
The grandness of the building the the artwork installed inside it was all meant to inspire the faithful to lift their thoughts to God.
But though their numbers have decreased over the years, the parishioners and their ancestors have left a visible testament to enduring faith.
I loved this little church on the plains. I hope it remains for generations to come.