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Bethany Lutheran and Grace United Methodist churches to mark 10-year anniversary Sunday

THE BUILDING KNOWN as Crossroads Alliance is shared by the congregations of Bethany Lutheran Church and Grace United Methodist Church. A 10-year anniversary celebration is planned Sunday.

NORWAY — Bethany Lutheran Church and Grace United Methodist Church, which share facilities known as Crossroads Alliance at 130 O’dill Drive in Norway, will celebrate 10 years of building and sharing a facility with a joint service at 10 a.m. Sunday and a potluck meal to follow.

All are invited to attend.

In September 2009, they completed a $1.2 million church construction project. It has been a pilgrim journey for both churches, whose histories date back to 1879 and 1880, when they were established to nurture the faith of this area’s Swedish, English and Norwegian immigrants.

The seeds for the project were sown in 1999 when Dan Olson of Norway assembled the pastors of the Evangelical Covenant, Grace United Methodist, Bethany Lutheran and First Baptist churches to announce a gift of 36 acres of land to be used to build new facilities for ministry and outreach. Each church received a parcel and a remaining parcel was gifted to the city as the site for the Jack Menghini Historical Museum.

A corporation known as Cornerstone Ministries was established to manage and oversee the land gift.

The Evangelical Covenant Church was the first to build at the new location. Bethany and Grace began considering new buildings but were concerned about the financial burdens involved for their small congregations. The necessity for thinking out of the box caused a new, intriguing, possibility to emerge: Could two churches maintain their own individual congregations and identities but construct and share the same building? It was an idea filled with both unique challenges and unique opportunities.

After much study and planning and support from both congregations, ground was broken in June 2008. The project was done primarily with volunteer labor and included a Great Room, which is a multi-purpose room that also functions as the worship area, classrooms, offices, kitchen, storage, youth space, a community pantry, a conference room and bathrooms.

Most of the crew of volunteers who showed up each day armed with hammers, drills, saws and determination, were from 65 to 80 years old. Women from both congregations cooked and brought meals to the worksite daily. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and shared vision. A bounty of gifts poured in, taking many forms, from an outpouring of time and talents, to monetary contributions, corporate grants, discounts on materials, equipment use, words of encouragement and many, many prayers.