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“Wanted: free steeple for a church in Taylorsville, Ky.,” read the small advertisement.
Pastor Steve Gettinger admitted to his congregation Sunday that when his request was placed in the Reporter – official newspaper to Lutheran churches – he had little faith that it would ever be answered.
“What‘s the chances that someone had a steeple to give away,” said Gettinger.
Six hundred miles away, Gary James was looking for a different kind of miracle. The Lord of Life Lutheran Church administrator had received an offer from T-Mobile to replace their 40-year-old steeple with a new $85,000, 70-foot structure. Tucked inside would be a cell phone tower that could service a large portion of Fairfax, Virginia. As if the deal was not sweet enough, James said T-Mobile would also pay the church another $1,500/month to use the equipment.
The problem, said James, was that the original steeple was bought by a church member in memory of his wife. The congregation did not want to see part of their church history ending up in a landfill and tarnishing the memory of one man‘s gift of love.
“We’re in a big city, but in a lot of ways, we’re a small town Lutheran church,” said James.
Seeing the ad in the Recorder was like an answer to their prayers – the prayers of both churches.
When James called Gettinger with the offering of a 40-foot, aluminum church steeple, he had two requirements. First, Lord of Life members wanted before and after pictures of the Spencer County church; and second, Risen Lord Lutheran was responsible for transporting the structure.
“What was I going to do?” Gettinger said. “I can’t fit it into my Impala.”
A few calls later, the pastor had secured the use of a goose-neck trailer courtesy of Patrick and Leeta Kennedy and a large, diesel truck owned by Trent and Jackie DeRudder. The 20-hour round trip ended Friday when the steeple arrived at its new home in Kentucky.
“It’s kind of like it’s coming home,” said Samantha Tanner, a member of Risen Lord Lutheran. Lord of Life Lutheran Church purchased the steeple two decades ago from Campbellsville (Ky.) Industries. Gettinger plans to consult the company on reinforcing their building to withstand the additional 1,000 lbs.
“The steeple will make is more like a church and not just a gray building,” said Denise Stevens, another member of Risen Lord Lutheran.
Members gathered in the church parking lot after the service Sunday morning to commemorate the event with a photograph.
“Ask, and ye shall receive,” said Gettinger, quoting scripture. “The gift of this steeple is a testimony of how God is able to do more than we can imagine.”
Risen Lord Lutheran Church has been the recipient of so many gifts during the past several years, said Gettinger. Everything inside the gray, metal structure standing along KY 55/155 in Elk Creek has been donated. The pews, lectern, baptismal and carved, wooden candelabras – all gifts. The pool table, ping pong table and foosball table in the youth room – more freebees. Last year, the members of Risen Lord Lutheran were thrilled to receive an elaborate, wooden reredos which serves as a regal backdrop to the alter table (also donated).
“We’ve been given everything but the building and the land it sits on,” said Gettinger. “When you are a small church with about 65 members, you just can’t afford to purchase those other things.”
So they ask. And in turn, the members of Risen Lord Lutheran have been able to help other churches by giving away the 50 padded chairs that were replaced by pews. They have also re-gifted an alter table and pulpit.
“It is amazing how God’s people and other churches have given to us when they found out about our needs,” said Gettinger. “One of our dreams was to have a church steeple that would lift high the cross of Jesus Christ. This dream has been fulfilled.”
Plans are to have the structure installed by the end of the summer. He said the church might need some help with the cost to reinforce the building and in finding a crane to hoist the steeple on its new perch, but he knows who to ask.
“The gift of this steeple is a testimony of how God is able to do more than we can imagine,” said Gettinger.