One church saved

A woman named Judy Kotrba from near Thief River Falls called me earlier tonight with a heartwarming story. The church near near her home farm northeast of Grygla has been closed for forty years. It was falling in disrepair. When Judy's mother was dying, she said, wouldn't it be nice if the church was restored to its original condition.

Well, after her mother's death, Judy's family got to work and restored the place with the help of many relatives from all over the country. When the job was finished, they told a few people that they were going to have a gathering there to celebrate.

They expected to have little more than a family reunion, but when they drove up there were cars and campers everywhere. Three hundred people showed, and they had a grand time. They passed the hat and raised a lot of money for maintainance of the old building.

That was six years ago. They have had a similar gathering every two years since. A couple of years ago, an ailing relative mentioned that it would be fun to have an old-fashioned Christmas program there. Once again, the word went out--only by word of mouth. Judy made bars, thinking there would only be a few people--but eighty showed, and they brought hotdishes, salads and roasted chickens. They had a feast, and when they sang Silent Night at the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

I asked Judy about the problem of liability insurance. She scoffed, "That is such a farce." When the church closed, somebody had it redesignated as a shed. After her mother died, Judy found out by looking through her things that her mother had been paying the insurance on the "shed" for decades out of her own pocket. She was living on Social Security at the end, but still paid the insurance. Nobody in the family knew of it.

So, that is the story of how one church building remained standing. Let's hope there are many more!