St. John Ev. Lutheran Church holds decommissioning service

Brian Roebke photo
Pastor Mike Gehl closes the door at the St. John Ev. Lutheran Church building on Turner Steet on Sunday after the 10:30 a.m. service. The 110-year-old structure held a near full house for the last service after the congregration sold the building. The congregation will temprorarily worship in Greenleaf while it builds a new structure on Plum Road. Pictured on the left are Leah Cisler, Courtney Schisel, Mary Fritsch, Lou Beard, Betty Schmidt, Pat Vickman, Janet Wierschke, and Rozanne Bohrtz.

By Brian Roebke
There were plenty of memories of times past, as well as a few tears shed, when the congregation from St. John Ev. Lutheran Church in Wrightstown held its final service Sunday at its 437 Turner St. building, constructed in 1911.
The WELS congregation was led by Pastor Mike Gehl during the service that marked the final gathering for worship in the building, a gathering place for the past 110 years.
The adult choir performed along with guest accompanist Sheryl Hagen of St. Matthew in Appleton.
Gehl’s sermon included references to the many memories in the church building being taken away by those who worshipped there for many years but stressed the congregation is more than just the church building.
The closing of the church building occurred at the end of the service when members of the congregation with long-time family ties to the congregation came forward to receive the furnishings, fabrics, and vessels from the pastor.
Those included the baptismal napkin removed from the font, the Bible and paraments removed from the lectern and pulpit, the communion vessels from the communion table, the missal stand and the altar book removed from the altar.
The last pieces removed were the candlesticks, cross, and paraments. After the recessional, the congregation was led by the cross outside the building, where everyone assembled on the sidewalks outside the church.
Pastor Gehl said, “We close this church building as a place for worship in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen,” before closing the doors to the church.
The congregation will temporarily worship at the St. Paul building in Greenleaf until a new school and church building can be constructed on Plum Road. Construction is expected to commence in spring.