Epiphany Lutheran building to mark 100 years of presence at Oak and Helgerson

Posted 7/21/21

July 25 celebration will feature children’s games, music by Jim Gale as well “As we celebrate in remembrance of the past, we first celebrate in remembrance of ‘Christ who loved us and gave …

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Epiphany Lutheran building to mark 100 years of presence at Oak and Helgerson


July 25 celebration will feature children’s games, music by Jim Gale as well

“As we celebrate in remembrance of the past, we first celebrate in remembrance of ‘Christ who loved us and gave himself up for us,’” Epiphany Lutheran Pastor Robert Wilcken wrote on the congregation’s centennial in 1995, quoting from the book of Ephesians in the New Testament.

But while Epiphany Lutheran as a congregation chose to disband in 2019, the building it once met in is still around, and come July 25 that fact will remembered. Full Gospel Mission, the congregation that now owns the building, will hold a 100-year anniversary celebration, complete with dunk tank, kids games, and music provided by Jim Gale, according to Full Gospel congregation member Paul Smith. Attendees to the Sunday event will also have a chance to walk across the street and check out the local historical museum, Smith shared.

“It’s been a church for 100 years,” he said of the Epiphany building, with the name ‘epiphany’ in Greek meaning “to show (phanos) upon (epi).” Within the Christian Scriptures, the term “epiphany is sometimes used as a synonym for “theophany,” another Greek word meaning “appearance of God.” So what will go on Sunday July 25 at the old site of Epiphany Lutheran at Oak and Helgerson Streets in Stanley?

“There will be a regular church service in the morning,” Smith said, with special speakers including Barry Acker (see ad on page 2). After the morning service will come the kids’ games and dunk tank, Smith said.

“We have a lot of kids that come to the church right now. We have a big youth program,” he shared in addition. So how did Full Gospel Mission get started exactly, or just where? What’s that story? To find out, we caught up with Pastor Mike Larrabee, who leads the congregation now housed at 114 West Oak Street, formerly of Wilson township.

“Full Gospel Mission was started by Herb Lensky in the early 70’s in his garage,” Larrabee shared. “As time went on, they purchased an old school house from the Augusta school district for $300,” located at the intersection of Gravel Pitt Road with Highway D and still visible on Google Earth, though since changed in appearance.

“The building was later added onto to accommodate a larger sanctuary and housed a junior and senior high school for several years,” Larrabee said of the Full Gospel Mission building in Wilson. “My grandfather, Pastor Harmon Larrabee, began filling in for Pastor Herb around 1999, because of Pastor Herb’s failing health. Pastor Harmon later assumed the role of Senior Pastor until 2006 when he suffered a stroke. I began filling in for him in June of 2006 and was later appointed to the role of Senior Pastor that year,” Larabee shared. So what does the name ‘Full Gospel Mission’ mean or stand for, exactly? Larrabee explained that as well.

“The term ‘Full Gospel’ reflects our commitment to scriptures, and their study, daily application, and sharing them with others,” Larrabee said. “We are Charismatic Pentecostals, which means that we do believe that all the spiritual gifts the Bible speaks about are in fact for today and available for the edification of the church and the propagation of the Gospel. When we say ‘Full Gospel’ we are communicating our desire to have and experience everything that Jesus gave His life to purchase on our behalf,” Larrabee said. Although the congregation’s website at https:// fullgospelliving.org mentions their belief that the written Word of God “is creative in nature,” Larrabee clarified that the congregation was not a ‘Word of Faith’ church, as “we cannot condone a doctrine that would subjugate a perfect God to the imperfect will of man,” Pastor Larrabee shared. The phrase “creative in nature” instead refers to the Bible’s transformative power, he shared.

“The Gospel can write a new chapter in a person’s life where the momentum of the past no longer holds power over today,” Larrabee said.

Returning to the 100-year celebration on Sunday July 25, Larrabee shared that, “We are throwing

See EPIPHANY, Page 7

Seen from the west, the building that once housed Epiphany Lutheran and is now home to Full Gospel

Mission has one foundation shown above in three parts: fieldstone; block concrete; and poured cement.

Staff photo.


this celebration to recognize what has come before and the sacrifices made by previous generations so that we might have a place to worship. Epiphany sold us this building at a price far less than what they probably could have gotten for it because they had a desire to see their building continue to serve this community. We think that is worthy of remembering and celebrating,” he said.

Pastoring in the meantime on a volunteer basis, Larrabee shared of the July 25 celebration that, “what we are trying to do here is communicate, the best we can, that Jesus loves you and we are going to do our very best to reflect that love towards everyone we can.” Smith echoed Larrabee in sentiment.

“We’re thankful for the people before us who had a desire to have a church,” he said of Epiphany and its long history at the site.

Once again, the event is located at 114 West Oak Street on July 25.