You know, when I first came to Blue Earth, nearly 10 years ago, I?was struck by many things in this nice little community.
One of those was the number of churches. When I first drove around town, it seemed there was a church everywhere I looked.
I saw seven grouped together just near the downtown area. Of course, later I learned one of those seven was actually not being used, was on the National Registry of Historic Places, and actually was owned by the county's historical society.
(In case you are trying to do the count yourself, there were two Lutheran churches, two Methodist, one Episcopal church, one Presbyterian and one Baptist all right near downtown.)
Then I drove around a little and found another one on the far west edge of Blue Earth. (Catholic).
It wasn't until later that I discovered there was another Lutheran church and an Assembly of God church on the south side of town, by the St. Luke's Lutheran Care Center.
And, after I had lived here for a while, I discovered one more on Rice Street near the railroad tracks. Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
That seemed like an awful lot of churches. But I felt it spoke well of the people who lived in Blue Earth that they could support that many churches.
Of course, since that time, the two Methodist churches combined and built another new church building on the north side of town. One former Methodist church building became a youth center, the other one was purchased by yet another group and is now the Life Family Church.
But, you know, there was one church that I could not locate after I moved here.
In the basement of the Faribault County Register building was one office that had a sign on it saying it was the church office of the Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church.
I thought it just a bit odd that a church would have their pastor's office in a downtown building instead of in the church itself.
And, I also wondered where this church was located. After all, I had driven or walked around nearly every square foot of Blue Earth, doing a bit of exploring and getting familiar with my new community.
I never saw any Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church. Had I just plain missed it? Was it tucked away in some corner of the city I had yet to discover?
Eventually I learned this church did not have a building. Hence, the office in the Register basement.
They were having their church services in the Performing Arts Center at the Blue Earth Area High School.
I wondered about that issue a little bit. Was it really 'kosher' for a public school to allow a church to hold a religious service on its grounds? You know, the old separation of church and state thing.
Turns out it is perfectly OK. Just as long as it is not affiliated with the school in any way.
Then Cornerstone Church found a new home, in an actual church building. Sort of. They began holding their church services in The Refuge, the Youth for Christ youth center.
So, they were meeting in what had been a Methodist church. Now it was a youth center Monday through Saturday, and back to a church on Sundays.
But all that is no more. Now when I go around and count church buildings in Blue Earth, there is one more to add to the list.
As our story this week explains, the Cornerstone Church finally has a building of its own. The former Winter Funeral Home.
And, they are pretty excited about it. After all, their new facility almost fits them perfectly to a "T." Everything from the bathrooms to the fellowship area to the chapel to a new office for Pastor Dave Drescher, it's just what they need.
A little remodeling of the former prep room and the casket display room, and they will be happily at home in their wonderful new location.
The congregation is pretty grateful to the Winter family for having remodeled the former White House Restaurant into a funeral home that now will work out just dandy for them to use as a church.
Oh yeah, they also are giving a lot of thanks to God for guiding them along all these years, and finally finding them a place to worship Him.
On Sunday, April 23, they will be doing a lot of praising, praying and saying thanks, as they dedicate their new church in a special Sunday service.
I just add my own words of congratulations, as I am sure, does the rest of the Blue Earth area community.
We have gained another church.