Peace Lutheran Church of Edgemont
Sunday, May 09, 2021
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Our History

Our History
Hope Lutheran Church of Heber Springs received its charter from the Lutheran Church in America in 1976. Religious services were conducted in the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches in Heber Springs until the dedication of the new building at the present site at the junction of Hwy 110 West and Hwy 107 in September of 1977. Some of the charter members of this new congregation were residents of the Greers Ferry and Fairfield Bay areas. As time went by, membership at Heber Springs grew from these areas. Because of the distance of travel and weather hazards, the church council agreed to conduct a separate service in the Greers Ferry area. 
On September 9, 1979, the first of these services was held in a trailer with 33 people in attendance. The following February, services were moved to the Community Room of the Greers Ferry Branch of Heber Springs State Bank. In the fall of 1980, a choir was formed and sang for the first time on December 7 during worship service, and then again on December 14 at the Fairfield Bay Christmas Tree Lighting.
Attendance at Greers Ferry increased to the point that a decision had to be made as to whether to move to larger quarters or to build a permanent church home. On March 15, 1984 a natural phenomenon occurred, which helped us make that decision. We were forced to cancel our first Lenten service because a tornado had completely destroyed the bridge connecting Edgemont and Greers Ferry. As a result, the members from the Fairfield Bay and Mystic Isle areas were forced to drive to Greers Ferry around the lake - via Clinton and Bee Branch to join their fellow members from Greers Ferry in religious services - a distance of 57 miles. After a short period, this situation was remedied by the installation of a ferry boat system. From then on until the erection of the bridge in 1985, it was a matter of trying to set one's schedule to that of the varying ferry boat schedules in an effort to "get to the church on time". Needless to say, this was a real test of faith for this unusual group, most of whom were retired, yet had the enthusiasm of teenagers, in their determination to serve the Lord.
In the early summer of that year a planning committee was formed to select a site and to set in motion plans for the building of this new chapel. Blue prints were received in July 1985 for Hope Chapel.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were conducted on August 25, 1985 with Rev. Royall Yount, Dean of the Arkansas District, Central States Synod of the Lutheran Church in America, presiding.
The cement slab was poured on April 1, 1986. The remainder of the year was extremely busy for everyone. Wright Construction Company, with the aid of mostly volunteer workers, was busy at the site, while the dedicated building committee was busily making decisions on a weekly basis.
On November 10, 1986 the congregation was blessed with Dr. Robert Dealey's acceptance to become the new permanent pastor.
The Hope Chapel section of Hope Lutheran Church celebrated its first worship service in the new building on January 18, 1987.
On January 1, 1988 the Lutheran Church in America joined the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America, a church body of 11,000 congregations, 5.3 million members. The three uniting church bodies have had a common faith and mission. Now, they are seeking to express this faith and their unity in Jesus Christ more fully, and to strengthen their mission together, enriched by one another’s traditions.
May 1997, Pastor Robert Dealey accepted a call to a church in Maryville, Ill.
[During the span of time prior to and following Pastor Dealey’s departure, Pastor Norbert Hellrude served Hope Church & Chapel as Visitation Minister, and the congregations also were blessed to have Vicar Scotty Burkhalter (then an intern) and his family – wife Myra and several children – so when Pastor Dealey left, these two gentlemen helped keep things going and the congregations continued to thrive, despite the absence of a full-time pastor, even though Pastor Dealey and his wife Rhonda had been shared between two congregations!]
January 11, 1998 at the annual meeting of Hope Lutheran Church Heber Springs the mortgage was burned. The mortgage was dated 1991 for $77,283.99 to be paid off 11/01/01. Luis and Maxine Nelson of St. Joseph, Ill., held the mortgage.
It was decided at the January 11, 1998 meeting that Heber Springs would retain the name of Hope Lutheran and Edgemont would select a new name. February 1, 1998, at the annual congregational meeting, the decision was made to become two separate congregations. 109 members attended the meeting. 98 voted yes to the resolution, 10 voted no, and 1 abstained.
On February 15, 1998, it was decided the name would be Peace Lutheran Church of Edgemont. This was the first and very important step in facilitating the legal aspect of forming a new congregation.
April 26, 1998 was Pastor Norbert Hellrud's last Sunday. He accepted a call for a church in Illinois.
On May 3, 1998 the charter and registration for Peace Lutheran Church was signed by all members at that time.
On September 28, 1998, Pastor John E. Swanson accepted the call to Peace Lutheran Church, with his starting date to be December 1, 1998.
April 24, 1999, Peace Lutheran Church was received into the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod.
On September 10, 2000, ground breaking ceremonies were held for the construction of a larger sanctuary and office areas.
On May 27, 2001, Installation services for the Time Capsule in the floor of the Narthex were conducted.
At the close of the Sunday Worship Services, July 29, 2001, the congregation was moved into the new sanctuary of the newly constructed building addition.
On September 13, 2001 Prayer Services at Peace were held as a result of the tragedy in New York City at the World Trade Center.
The first Taiz'e worship services were conducted on September 21, 2001.
On October 21, 2001, Reformation Sunday, Church building dedication services were held with reception afterwards, Bishop Floyd Schoenhals presided.
In 2001, AAL Branch was established at Peace Church.
In March of 2002, the Peace Storage Garage was constructed with financial gifts from members, matching funds from Lutheran Brotherhood and AAL Branch. It was dedicated April 28, 2002.
In May of 2002, a Treasure Hunt II (rummage sale) was held; proceeds of $2010.15 were given to the Greers Ferry Ambulance, Heart of the Lake volunteers, Outreach of the Hills and Peace Discretionary Fund. 
In June of 2002, Hook-A-Kid-on-Golf was held for one week at Mountain Ranch Golf Club. This was funded by AAL and USGA.
In July 2002, Vacation Bible School was held for a week. “Brave Believers” was the theme. Pastor Swanson was very active in VBS leadership.
On August 3, 2002, Rev. John “Jack” Swanson passed away at age 66. Following his sudden death, Olean Brown resumed Adult Bible Study and led Catechetics.
In November of 2002, Bishop Floyd Schoenhals visited Peace Church to explain the calling process.
A Call Committee was named in December by the Church Council: Tom Brown, Frank Franz, Melinda Kunert, Jim Summers, Earl Hietbrink (council liaison). The process was begun in January of 2003.
The Church Council refinanced the mortgage of $90,000 by Union Planters Bank of Clinton at 4.75% with a cap of 6.25% on a variable rate. Monthly payment was $772.00.
Rev. Steven Douglas at Hope Church volunteered to visit members who were ill, homebound or hospitalized, and took communion to them.
On July 20, 2003, the Entry Arch - “Peace Be With You” - was dedicated in memory of Rev. Jack Swanson.
In September of 2003, the Columbarium and Memorial Garden were dedicated.
In February of 2004, a Letter of Call was sent to Rev. Susan Flemr, which she accepted. Pastor Sue relocated to Fairfield Bay in March and assumed full pastoral duties on April 1, 2004. She presided at Holy Week Services in March.
On May 2, 2004 Rev. Susan Flemr was installed as pastor at Peace Church by Bishop Floyd Schoenhals, with reception following the service.
A Debt Retirement Dinner was held on November 12, 2006 at 3 PM. A Mortgage Burning Celebration with spaghetti supper was enjoyed, and Bishop Floyd Schoenhals presided. Peace Chimers made their debut at dinner, playing “Amazing Grace”.
In February of 2007 the Water Well Fund for Morogoro Tanzania was established.
In March of 2007, initial planning began for addition of the music rooms and classroom.
On November 4, 2007, a Dedication Service was held, in which the new addition, Choir Rooms and Class Room, along with furnishings, chimes and other Memorial Gifts were dedicated to the Glory of God.
In January 2008 Peace reached the goal of $8,000 for installation of second water well in Tanzania.
In February of 2008 the library at Peace was completed.
November  – Ninety-nine quilts, 30 Health Kits, 40 School Bags boxed and delivered to Little Rock for LWR. 24 quilts sold to Peace members to raise money to buy materials, 61 lap robes given to 4 senior homes.
On November 4, 2009, Rev. Herb Hafermann of Tanzania preached at service with pot luck following. Dr. Paul Klein, AR/OK Global Mission, also attended. Cathy Englkes joined with these men in making a presentation about their work in Tanzania.
Dec 2009 -- 117 quilts plus 40 school kits, 30 health kits blessed and taken to LR. LWR. Thirty- one sold or given to needy, 68 lap robe with 8 sold. Made 9 wall hangings.
In May 2010, Rev. Susan Flemr retired, and Rev. William Flemr became Peace Supply Pastor.
In February of 2011, Bishop Floyd Schoenhals retired.
In July of 2011, Rev. Jo Dietz became the new pastor at Peace.
September 2011 Bishop Mike Girlinghouse installed Rev. Jo Dietz. A dinner reception followed her installation service.
In January of 2012, Peace Lutheran Church marked the 25th anniversary at our present site, although for the first few years we were part of Hope Parish.
Dec 2012 -- 113 quilts to LWR.
Activities Peace Church has done “forever – at least for many years” – include gatherings for Thanksgiving dinners, Blessing of the Animals, Choir Advent      and Good Friday services, Lenten & Advent Services, and Easter Brunch. 
Women of the ELCA (WELCA) meet regularly, and the Christian Mission Group has produced quilts, school kits, etc. Men In Mission also meet, and often arrange for the physical care of the property. 
Hope Chapel Choir and subsequently the Peace Lutheran Church Choir has always been a fixture in this congregation. Frank Franz recounted that Lois Valbrecht was instrumental in recruiting almost every member to be in the choir from the beginning of the congregation! Choir Directors have included Francis Tice, Carol Gray Hutto, Analea Cook. 
Irving Ahlquist served the congregation as organist/pianist faithfully for many, many years. When he determined that it was time for him to retire as full-time organist, Terry Lee Ziolkowski became pianist and learned to play the organ during her time at Peace. Upon her move away from Arkansas, Susan Callaway began to serve the congregation as accompanist. 
God has truly blessed the members of Peace Lutheran Church of Edgemont through the years, and the congregation has reached out to the area and even the world to ‘be the Hands of God’ on earth.