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Valley of Peace Lutheran Church Invites Community to Birthday Party
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Valley of Peace Lutheran Church, seen here in the early 1980s, was built to blend in with the landscape. COURTESY
   
Friday, June 21, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Vietnam War had just ended, the Supreme Court had overturned state bans on abortion and a worldwide telecast of Elvis in Hawaii had drawn more viewers than the Apollo Moon landings when Valley of Peace Lutheran Church opened its doors in 1973.

The church at the corner of Woodside Boulevard and Wintergreen Drive in Hailey will celebrate its Golden Anniversary this weekend with an anniversary program at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 22, followed by a fellowship meal at 6 p.m.

Hailey Mayor Martha Burke and elder Ted Keil will make a few remarks, and Pastor Jerry Reinke will deliver an invocation, which will be followed by a keynote speech by the Rev. Jonathan Dinger of Grace Lutheran church in Pocatello.

 
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Pastor Jerry Reinke built a town of Bethlehem for two dozen collectible Fontanini figurines crafted by descendants of northern Italy’s Emanuele Fontanini.
 

Historic photographs and memorabilia will be on display and Caritas Chorale and Mark Mueller will provide music.

On Sunday the church will serve up a dessert reception following its 10 a.m. worship service. That, too, is open to the public.

Pastor Jerry Reinke said the church would put up a tent to accommodate a large crowd: “Our congregation is small, but this anniversary has the potential to attract a crowd.”

Though small, the Hailey church has left its mark on the community. It opened its doors to the Hunger Coalition, allowing the organization to teach cooking classes in its kitchen before The Hunger Coalition built its own kitchen.

 
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Valley of Peace Lutheran Church invited the community to see this nativity in 2019.
 

It’s allowed the community to plant and harvest vegetables on its lot. It’s staged harvest festivals and a nativity show featuring collectible figurines crafted by the renowned Italian artist Emanuele Fontanini. It’s joined with other churches to show documentaries about Dietrich Bonhoffer and other inspirational men of faith, coupled with community discussions.

And it has been involved in Camp Perkins, a Lutheran camp near Stanley that has served such groups as Camp Rainbow Gold.

It was a retired Twin Falls pastor—the Rev. E.F. Loessel and his wife—who responded to a query from Hailey residents who wanted to have worship services. The Northwest District and the churches of the Magi Valley Circuit surveyed the area to make sure the mission would not compete with any other Lutheran venture in the area.

Loessel conducted the first worship service in the Hailey Grange Hall on a Wednesday evening in September 1973, and the fledgling congregation held its first Sunday morning worship service at Wood River Junior High School in November 1973 before moving to the National Guard Armory in July 1974 when the school was slated to be painted.

 
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Camp Perkins has been a home away from home for children and their families, quilters and others.
 

The church was accepted into the membership of the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at its convention in June1974.

With the help of a $50,000 loan from the Northwest District’s Church Extension Fund, the congregation purchased property at the corner of Main and Galena Streets. It put a double-wide mobile home there and dedicated it as “The Chapel” in October 1974.

The congregation installed the Rev. John Herrmann, a new graduate from the seminary of Springfield, Ill.., as a worker-priest pastor in July 1975 with the idea he would be able to spend more time growing the congregation. He remained until February 1978 when he accepted a call to the dual parish of Bethany in Osborn, Idaho, and Emmanuel in Mullen, Idaho.

Richard Luttrell was approved to serve as a lay minister a few months later and he served until July 1983. Under his leadership the congregation sold its original worship center and had Ketchum architect Linda Bergerson design its present church building.

With much volunteer labor, the building was dedicated to the glory of God on Oct. 19, 1980.

Robert Meyer, also a lay minister, assisted Luttrell in conducting worship servicesover the next few years while also serving as director of Camp Perkins, a Lutheran camp at Perkins Lake near Stanley.

The church got its first full-time pastor when a Synod-wide fundraising effort called “Forward in Remembrance” provided funds for a full-time salary for three years. The Rev. Jerome V. Wohfeil of Canon, City, Colo., accepted the call in April 1984.

An anonymous donor gifted the parish with a lot on 1420 Aspen Valley Drive in Hailey’s Woodside neighborhood a year later and Wohlfeil and his family moved into the parsonage built by with many hours of volunteer work on New Year’s Eve in 1986.

An addition was made to house Camp Perkins offices 10 years later and when Camp Perkins vacated the space in 2007 the space was converted into a large meeting room.

The current pastor, the Rev. Gerald “Jerry” Reinke has served the church since 2013.

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