Friendship Lutheran Church of Joy History
Every story has a beginning, and the history of the Friendship LutheranChurch of Joy (FLC) began in 1990 when the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod(LCMS) Central Illinois District (CID) decided to start a mission church to reach asmany un-churched people as possible in the Champaign-Urbana-Savoy area. The CID purchased land at the corner of Curtis and Duncan streets for $155,000.00. The CID called Pastor Mike Mast in August 1990 to be the Pastor of this mission church. He arrived in October. The church was to be called the Friendship Lutheran Church of Joy.
Pastor Mast began leading evening Bible studies at St. John Lutheran Church in Champaign and Trinity Lutheran Church in Urbana. When the number of the participants increased, space was secured in the Chancellor Hotel located at the corner of Neil and Kirby streets in Champaign. Member jim Carney constructed a large, wood box, which held two smaller boxes. The hotel found a place to store them, and on Sundays the three boxes were set up to serve as the Altar. It held all the supplies, and was referred to as the Ark because it moved with the members wherever they went. The first service held there was on Sept. 8, 1991. Sunday School classes were organized, and small groups and Bible studies were formed. The first children’s Christmas Program was held there on Dec. 17, 1995.
On March 12,1996 FLCJ received a letter from Central District approving the congregation’s application to purchase approximately 10 acres of the District’s owned land. The cost was the balance of the CID’s mortgage on that property. FLCJ bought the property on April 1, 1996.
Pastor Mast accepted a call in Oct. 1996 to begin another mission church. Friendship extended a call to Pastor Larry Bell who accepted the call and arrived on January 19 1997. He was installed on April 13- 1997. The original church services were always traditional.
On April 27, 1997 the congregation voted on building plans and a potential budget to build. Harco Construction was given approval to start building with the stipulation that the Central linois District approve FLC’s loan request. It was approved and FLCJ broke ground on June 22.1997. The final mortgage papers were signed on January 20th, 1999, and a payment of $621,365.71 was made to pay for the land which included the house, and the cost of the new building. At that time, FLCJ had 199 members.
Church members worked together to turn the little house on the property into the office, which remained the office until the completion of the new church. The dedication was held on December 6, 1998, followed by a brunch and the signing of the Charter.
Pastor Del Kruger served as the vacancy Pastor when Pastor Bell resigned. In April of 2005 there were 257 baptized members and 171 communicant members. The congregation approved issuing a call to Pastor Brian Pape, an associate pastor at Bethel Lutheran church in Morton IL He accepted, and was installed at FLCJ on September 18, 2005.
On March 1, 2010 a meeting was called to begin discussion concerning the remodeling of certain areas of the church. Once the decision was made, the Ministry-Focused Aspen Group was selected to do the construction, which started in July of 2012. The original kitchen was moved to the lower level and increased in size and updated to meet current codes. Donations in memory of Mike Hellmer furnished the kitchen. The former kitchen space on the main level was turned into two offices. The secretary’s office and the coffee bar were relocated within the narthex. The majority of the remodeling was on the northwest side of the building. An additional space measuring 14 x 48′ was added to that side, which then became the new chancel area.
The large window behind the altar was eventually covered with a stained glass portraying Jesus. All the furnishings for the altar were made and donated by a member of the church. The additional space served to increase the capacity of the sanctuary to hold 200 persons. In the lower level, the additional footage added space for three more classrooms, storage and a double door to the outside. During the renovation of the church all services were held in the lover level. When renovation was finally completed, the service to dedicate the new sanctuary was held on March 10, 2013.
Mollie Marcus a graduate of Concordia University in River Forrest Illinois arrived on August 1, 2012 to serve as the Director of Christian Education. She served in that position until February 15, 2014. Katrina Ward served as the Director of Education from July 13, 2015 until July 16, 2016. She received her training at Concordia University in Seward Nebraska.
In October 2018, Pastor Pape accepted a call from Peace Lutheran Church in Flagstaff, Arizona. During that one-year vacancy, the Friendship congregation was served by many local Pastors.
A call was extended to Pastor Glen Triplett who was at that point serving at a Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania. He accepted the call and was installed on October 21, 2017. The home directly south of the church was for sale, and arrangements were made for the Pastor and his family to rent the property.