About Us

(The following article was written for the LCMC Northwest District newsletter.  For our own members and friends who may have missed something along the way, please enjoy reading!)

BEGINNINGS of PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH, COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO

The decisions of the Church wide Assembly of the ELCA in August of 2009 dramatically affected the lives of pastors, congregations, families, and the Lutheran Community in North Idaho and around the country.  Peace Lutheran Church was formed primarily from former ELCA members who left their congregations as a direct result of the ELCA’s change in position regarding centuries of Scriptural interpretation, the authority of Scripture, and our Lutheran Confessions.   

Our story may not be much different from others who suffered through this ordeal.  Although strong majorities to withdraw from the ELCA in our former congregations were expressed, the two-thirds majority needed was not met, leaving control of the church facilities in the hands of slightly more than a one-third minority, and a large group of displaced Lutherans.  Soon after the vote, about 45 people from one congregation gathered in a home to discuss their future church.  They invited Pastor Kurt Wandrey from a neighboring ELCA congregation who shared their position on the ELCA, as well as their predicament regarding church facilities, to listen to their concerns.  When significant numbers of ELCA members in the area began withdrawing their membership, Pastor Wandrey recognized the need for a Lutheran Church that gave the congregation greater autonomy over its own future, and more freedom to respect centuries of Biblical interpretation and Scriptural authority.  The group left encouraged and hopeful that a new non-ELCA Lutheran Church might be established. 

That group began worshipping in an old dance hall, and was soon joined by Pastor Kurt Wandrey and about 50 people who had left the congregation from which he resigned his Call.  115 worshippers attended the first service in March where Pastor Wandrey preached and led worship.  We set up chairs every week, which people still talk about as a joy, found some old sound equipment, set up an altar, and worshipped God with joyful hearts.  We played hymns on an old 1892 piano, and contemporary songs accompanied by guitar.  We hauled water to make coffee and provided crafts for the kids during fellowship time.  It was a wonderful blessing for people to come together and be inspired and joyful in worship again! 

The congregation voted for Pastor Wandrey to serve as their interim pastor and guide them while they were becoming established as a new church.  A Leadership Team was elected.  The congregation chose its name, symbolic of the peace only Christ can give, which they were all experiencing once again after so many months of turmoil.  Having a name, we could now vote to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, and be identified with a Lutheran Church Body that was faithful to God’s Word.  Our Easter Festival Worship was special and memorable, with “resurrection” and “new life” having a whole new meaning for us all this year! 

In May, a church office was leased a few miles from the dance hall that had become so dear to us, so that the pastor could conduct church business outside of his home during the week, and the Leadership Team had a convenient place to meet, which they were doing on a weekly basis.  Contributions of office furniture came in abundance, and plans were made for hiring secretarial help.  A very accomplished musician, who had worked previously with Pastor Wandrey, joined the church staff as organist in June, enhancing worship services with her talent. Sunday worship attendance remained at an average of 100, and the congregation continued to grow.  A Charter Member Roster was opened for those who wanted to be named as founders of Peace Lutheran Church-LCMC, and was kept open through June.  At the end of June, 137 baptized members had signed.   

A few church members had been asked to search for a facility where we could have classrooms for Sunday School, and our church office and worship space under the same roof by Fall.  In July God blessed us with a new lease.  After four months in our beloved dance hall, we moved to the original Methodist Church building near downtown Coeur d’Alene, which is also used as the Wedding Chapel, with whom we share the 102 year old sanctuary.  With its own unique charm and grace, we embraced this “new” church home, and celebrated our first worship there with a picnic/potluck in the scenic courtyard on a delightful, warm summer Sunday.  Attendance filled the sanctuary as well as the courtyard, and people were filled with a hearty, variety of delicious foods, friendly conversation, enthusiasm and hope!  July also brought another addition to the church staff, our Administrative Secretary, whose office expertise and delightful personality have been most welcome and appreciated by everyone, especially the pastor! 

The sanctuary is furnished with a matching pulpit, Baptismal font, and altar, crafted by a skilled member of the congregation.  An organ was donated, and others provided upgraded sound equipment, additional office furniture, tables and chairs, and the amenities to enhance our church home.  We continue receiving gifts and memorials for the many items most people simply take for granted in a public worship setting.  For Peace Lutheran members, it is all special, and reminders of how good and gracious our God is. 

Pastor Wandrey had been received on the LCMC Clergy Roster, so the congregation could now extend an official Letter of Call.  The vote of the congregation was unanimous!  Pastor Kurt Wandrey was called and installed as the congregation’s first pastor at a special worship service, during which he also installed the first Church Council.  These are some highlights of our beginnings.  We look forward to a long and healthy relationship with LCMC as God continues to bless us and grow us into the congregation He brought into being to accomplish his purposes and mission in this time and place.  To God be the glory!