It wasn’t too long ago that Lake Union Evangelical Covenant Church in rural South Haven was at a crossroads. Their congregation was aging, and dwindling. Their old building was aging too, and there didn’t seem to be much hope for the funds to repair or build something new.
But it seems God wasn’t finished with the work of Lake Union Church.
As the church approached its 100th anniversary (in 2006), the congregation rallied, young families joined the church, and the decision was made to build a new church building and hall, adjacent to the old. Families and individuals took on the challenge, and funds appeared for the project. This was about the time Lloyd Melvie became the pastor.
The groundbreaking for the new church building took place not long after the deaths of two of the individuals who had led the charge: Ron Strand and
Lowell Olson. It was a bittersweet ceremony that icy morning.
In short order, the building was completed with a beautiful new sanctuary, fellowship hall, kitchen, and rest rooms.
Pastor Lloyd Melvie, a retired international airline pilot in his first career, had been thinking about retiring (again).
Meanwhile, Eric Marx and his family had moved to Missoula, Mont., to pursue interests that didn’t pan out. They were invited by Eric’s wife Phoebe’s aunt, Mary Johnson of Kimball, to come and stay with her while they figure out their next step. Eight months ago, the Marx family moved to Kimball. Melvie retired, with Marx filling in as interim pastor since January.
Marx had left Montana without a call to a new church or service. “God put this together,” he commented. He feels the church is poised to grow, and he looks forward to what God has in store for them all.
Melvie noted the hand of God in the timing of this transition. “It’s interesting to look back and see how God’s hand is evident here,” said Melvie. He explained that Mary Johnson’s invitation to the Marxes to stay with her, at the same time that he was thinking of retirement, was God’s way of saying it’s okay to retire. “God has a way of blessing us that we don’t always understand,” he said, adding, “But are we willing to listen?”
In a special service Sunday, April 14, Marx was officially installed as Pastor of Lake Union Covenant Church. Rev. Mark Stomberg, the Northwest Conference Superintendent of the Covenant Church, gave a sermon about the prophet Elijah’s mantle passing on to Elisha when Elijah was whisked to heaven on a fiery chariot. Passing that mantle is important and somewhat daunting, but the congregation has resonsibilities too.
Members of the congregation presented gifts to Pastor Marx: a Bible; a pitcher of water, symbolizing baptism; bread and wine, representing the sharing of Holy Communion; oil, representing God’s healing; and the keys to the doors of the church.
Church chairman Wally Strand officially welcomed Marx as Pastor of the church.
A lovely dinner followed the service, with plenty of time for fellowship with the new pastor and his family.
Eric and Phoebe Marx have three sons, the youngest two of whom live with them in Kimball and were at the service Sunday. Alex, 22, is in the Air Force and was recently married; Aaron is 20; and Austin just turned 17 and is a sophomore at Kimball Area High School.
Eric, Austin, Aaron, and Phoebe Marx started the lunch line, followed by Phoebe’s Aunt Mary and the congregation and friends. Staff photo by Jean Doran Matua.