Farewell celebration scheduled for 10:30am
by Jennifer Pallay
LANSING, Ill. (January 30, 2020) – With a rich 65-year history in Lansing, Lansing Presbyterian Church is closing its doors on February 23. The church’s fate amid a shrinking congregation has been an ongoing discussion for the past few years according to the church’s ruling elders.
Lack of numbers
In 2019, they lost six members to death, said Lori Siegfried, a ruling elder and clerk of sessions. These days, eight to 10 members typically attend a Sunday service.
“When you consistently lose people, it is hard to keep numbers and the building going,” she said.
The church’s last full-time minister left in May and elders have used pulpit supply, having different ministers come lead worship on alternating Sundays each month.
“This helped us financially and allowed members to go to other congregations and see what is available,” said Siegfried, whose husband, Jim, is also a ruling elder and was the last person baptized in the church’s original building in the early 1960s.
Russ Loquist, a ruling elder and the first person baptized in the current church building said, “Feb. 23 is when the building will be decommissioned as a church and they dissolve the congregation. The building will be sold. It will be our 65th anniversary. We were trying to wait until then.”
The church was founded in 1955 by the Rev. James Peterson who went door to door in Lansing seeking out Presbyterians to join a new church.
“There was not a Presbyterian church in Lansing at that time,” said Loquist, whose father, uncles and other family members were all founding charter members.
The congregation first met at Coolidge School, then moved to the former Methodist church on Ridge Road (current Assembly of God Church). Groundbreaking of the current Lansing Presbyterian Church at 2625 Ridge Road took place in April 1962.
Unique architecture points to God
The new building was designed by Edward Dart (1922-1975), who designed more than two dozen custom churches in Illinois and Indiana. He died while completing the commercial development Water Tower Place.
“He was very much wanting to bring man to God so most of his designs have points and reach to the sky, pointing to heaven. Most of his churches at the time had the tall steeple pointing to God,” Siegfried said.
Lansing Presbyterian received awards for its design from the American Institute of Architects, the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry, and the American Association for Church Architecture.
“There is nary a square corner in this building. Everything is wedged shape and the roof slopes from one side to the other,” Loquist said.
Since it began, Lansing Presbyterian Church was heavily involved in the Lansing community and members loved to give back, said Siegfried.
The church was well known for an annual craft show on the lawn, annual French toast breakfast, annual mission garage sale and community dinners that brought out many residents.
“Our church has also been involved in many mission groups and has always supported missions,” Siegfried said.
Those groups include Hearts in Motion in Schererville, which empowers volunteers to serve those living in poverty around the world, and the Jones Memorial Community Center in Chicago Heights, which helps strengthen family ties in the local community. Other missions included financial and physical support of Feed My Starving Children and the Lansing Food Pantry. One unique mission of the church was Laundry Love, where church members would take laundry of nearby apartment residents and wash it at the laundromat in Lansing.
A final celebration has been planned for 10:30 a.m. Feb. 23 at the church. Two of the church’s former ministers, two former student ministers and a former youth minister plan to return for the celebration and co-celebrate the service. The church elders would like to invite current and past church members and those who were involved with the church over the years to attend the service.
“We’ve been very blessed to serve the community of Lansing and have had a long standing relationship with it and we are very sorry to be leaving. We know that God has more work for us to do somewhere,” Siegfried said.
The Lansing Presbyterian Church is located at 2625 Ridge Road in Lansing.