Lansing Assembly celebrates 50th anniversary on July 4

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Lansing Assembly is located at 2990 Ridge Road in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Golden Jubilee service on July 4 to celebrate 50 years of faith in Lansing

By Quinton R. Arthur

LANSING, Ill. (June 27, 2021) – Churches are one of the cornerstones of community in Lansing, and Lansing Assembly will be celebrating 50 years of being part of Lansing’s faith community on July 4.

Early history of Lansing Assembly

During its five-decade history, the church has been home to three pastors. The church was started on July 4, 1971 under the name Lansing Assembly of God. The founding pastors, David and Julie Leatherberry held the first service at Nathan Hale Elementary School.

In 1975, the Leatherberrys headed to western Asia to become missionaries. Pastor Bob Neuman and his wife Judy led the church for the next 43 years, from 1975 to 2018. During his tenure, one of Pastor Neuman’s accomplishments was starting the Lansing Community Food Pantry in 1981.

Lansing’s original food pantry

The pantry, located in the basement of the current Lansing Assembly at 2990 Ridge Road, is open twice monthly to individuals in need — on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The pantry grew to become its own nonprofit organization. As stated on its Facebook page, the Lansing Community Food Pantry receives its support from local businesses, organizations, churches, schools, and individual donations of money and food. The pantry has many food options available and clients have the options of non-perishable food, fresh food, and other non-food items.

Food pantry
Food Pantry Co-Chair Karen Adams surveys the non-staple items that are available to Lansing Food Pantry visitors in March of 2021. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

According to Lansing Assembly’s current pastor Jonathan Vitale, throughout almost 40 years, the food pantry has missed only one week of distributing food to those in need in Lansing — on a week when temperatures were too cold and unsafe to do so.

Lansing Assembly: “A church for Lansing”

On November 1, 2018, Lansing Assembly welcomed Pastor Johnathan Vitale and his wife Allison. Originally from Michigan, the Vitales have served in ministry in various capacities for the past 20 years. One coincidental fact that connects them to the founding pastors of the church is that they were serving as missionaries in Asia before being led to the church. A fellow pastor and friend recommended them to Lansing Assembly, and after preaching a sermon and being voted in, the Vitales are the third family to lead the Lansing Assembly.

Recognizing the church’s mission in reaching out and being a part of the community, one of Pastor Vitale’s first priorities was getting to know the residents of Lansing. He did not want to be a church where members just attended but were not a part of the community.

“Lansing Assembly is not just a church in Lansing, but it is a church for Lansing,” says Pastor Vitale. “We want to see the community prosper and God’s kingdom come to Lansing.”

In efforts to engage and connect with the surrounding community, Lansing Assembly hosted community dinners at the church, organized a block party, and offered free classes on various subjects.

Celebrating 50 years

Lansing Assembly
Lansing Assembly’s 50th anniversary service will start at 10:30 a.m. on July 4. (Photo provided)

As the pandemic came, Lansing Assembly adjusted through online services. When restrictions were lifted, they still practiced safety through use of social distancing and requiring use of personal protective equipment. Now that most of the congregation has been vaccinated, the church is looking forward to celebrating its 50th anniversary in more traditional ways.

The special celebration service will start at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 4. Videos of congratulations from various members of the congregation and community will be played, photos will be on display, and a letter written by the founder of the church will be read. Former Pastor Bob Neuman will deliver the message. After service, the church will fellowship with food being served.

Pastor Vitale is grateful for all the support the church has received and is looking forward to a continued legacy of service to the community.

“Thank you to the Lansing community for letting us be here the last 50 years and allowing us to participate in the community alongside of them, the opportunities we had to serve them, and all the ways they have encouraged and served us.”

All are welcome to attend the 50th anniversary service at Lansing Assembly on July 4, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. Lansing Assembly is located at 2990 Ridge Road, Lansing, IL.

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