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Northlake Lutheran marks 50 years; Kenmore church started with 20 people on school folding chairs
On Dec. 11, 1960, Florence Lindstrom kept a promise made to her mother-in-law.
That promise meant that after she and husband, Bob, got settled into their new Kenmore home, they would start attending church. Florence Lindstrom said she and her husband had bounced around to a couple of different churches and weren’t sure where to go next. A knock on their door settled the question — for 50 years and counting.
The Lindstroms are among 10 or so charter members of Kenmore’s Northlake Lutheran Church who will help mark that institution’s 50th anniversary with a service at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 at the church, 6620 N.E. 185th St., and later a gathering at the Kenmore Community Club.
Former pastors will be among the guests at the service and community club event. Both happenings are open to the public.
Florence Lindstrom said that knock on her door all those years ago came from Northlake’s founding pastor, looking for people who might want to attend services the fledging mission church was planning to hold in Kenmore Elementary School. Lindstrom admitted the closeness of the school to her home was a big reason she and her husband decided to attend. Now the president of the church’s congregation, Lindstrom obviously liked what she found.
“Just a friendly group of people, that was my first experience with the church,” Lindstrom said, adding about 20 people attended the first service sitting on folding chairs at the school. She also recalled there were no hymnals in the early days, so only those familiar with Lutheran services were able to follow and sing along.
The administrative assistant for the church since 1981, Jeanie McBee has been a member of the Northlake congregation since 1974. She originally only visited the church in order to have her son attend vacation Bible classes.
“I just kind of stuck around,” added McBee, who described her job as low stress and an opportunity to work on something she cares about, not to mention working with friends, with people she cares about.
“It’s a small congregation,” said Pastor Marvin Jonasen, “but it’s a congregation that’s been able to do a lot over the last 50 years.”
During the last five decades, among many other projects, Northlake has been involved with Hopelink, the well-known food bank and community service organization, as well as the Compass Housing Alliance, which provides shelter and low-income housing.
Further, with Bob Lindstrom at the helm, the church annually hosts the Kenmore Art Show. The church hosts both Boy and Girl scouts. For his part, Jonasen really wanted to emphasize Northlake’s congregation always has reached well beyond its own walls.
Not incidentally, the church’s first real walls appeared not too long after that first December service. Northlake opened its doors in what Lindstrom described as a fairly modest building of its own at its present location Sept. 10, 1961. In terms of size, the congregation probably reached its zenith of about 600 members in the 1970s.
“We had a lot of kids attending Sunday school,” Florence Lindstrom said.
To alleviate space problems, an education wing was added to the original church in 1979. A major addition followed in 1994 and included a new entrance, an expanded sanctuary, an office wing and choir, classroom and storage space.
Talking once more about Northlakes’s past, Jonasen noted he’s only the church’s fourth pastor in half a century.
“That shows strength and solidity itself,” he added.
Former Pastor LeRoy Anenson served for 18 years before being elected bishop of the Northwestern Washington Synod. Pastor Chris Boerger took over for Anenson on April Fool’s Day, 1990. (He was greeted by a congregation wearing Burger King restaurant crowns.) Jonasen took over in November 2002. He views the 50th anniversary as a sort of “oasis” in the church’s history.
“I think of it as a plateau... a chance to pause and breath in, to reflect, and move forward on a journey that will take us higher and farther.”