Peace Lutheran Church
"We're Not Just For Lutherans"
Join us for worship
every Sunday @ 10:00AM
Maundy Thursday, April 1st @ 6PM
Good Friday, April 2nd @ 6PM
Easter Worship, April 4th @ 10AM
A Growing Church
in Holbrook, AZ
Begun 56 years ago to provide a Lutheran presence in the high desert community of Holbrook, Peace Lutheran has always been a small congregation. "What we lack in size, we make up for in warmth," said charter member Elaine Snell (Elaine "graduated" to heaven in 2018), laughing, "You can't slip through the cracks here!" With just a 50-seat capacity sanctuary, Peace has had difficulty filling even those pews for much of its history as people have come and gone. "Part of the problem has been the lack of good, consistent, residential pastoral leadership," reflected Barbara Justman, another charter member. "We've either had poor pastoral leadership, no pastoral leadership or, when we got a good one, he didn't stay long."
But, except for our Lord Jesus who remains "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), things change. In January of 2012, long-time friend of the congregation, Pastor Jeff Johnson, accepted a call to be the pastor of Peace. Pastor Jeff and his wife, Mary, purchased a home in Holbrook and committed to being a part of Peace's growth and witness. During the seven years of Pastor Jeff's ministry here, attendance has more than quintupled, but jokes Johnson, "That's not saying much when you start with about ten faithful saints." Nonetheless, our little sanctuary was usually full and often we needed to set up chairs. "It was great to see so many things happening," added Irene Enlund, yet another charter member.
But then Pastor Jeff retired in August of 2019. The congregation struggled and declined even more when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Navajo County. "We were back to single digits at worship again," stated long-time member Yolanda Canaday. Many people--and perhaps wisely--are choosing to stay-at-home until the pandemic passes.
In October of 2020, Pastor Johnson returned to lead the congregation once again. "Like a bad penny, I came back," jokes Pastor Jeff. While numbers have rebounded significantly (we're averaging between 25-30 at worship now), we've got a long way to go before we return to what we were just a few years ago. "But God is good," declares congregational president Vicki King, "once this COVID thing is past, I know we'll return to a full house again--and even grow beyond that."
"There are advantages to being small," states Pastor Johnson. "Everyone knows each other, and cares for each other. There's a spirit of unity here and a 'let's pull together and do this' attitude. It's an exciting time in this congregation's history."
While small in size, Peace's leadership has big dreams for the congregation. If you choose to visit Peace Lutheran Church--and stay--don't expect to sit around. We need everyone to utilize his or her spiritual gifts to both remain the warm and friendly congregation we currently are and to achieve the vision we believe God has given us. Come! Be a part on a congregation "on the grow!"