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St. Peter’s Lutheran sparkles with new paint

Having just painted the eaves of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton, Braeden Moening, Bryce Schoenke and Mara Hanson are lowered to the ground in the bucket of a frontloader operated by Gordon Simmons. - Jim Larsen / The Record
Having just painted the eaves of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton, Braeden Moening, Bryce Schoenke and Mara Hanson are lowered to the ground in the bucket of a frontloader operated by Gordon Simmons.
— image credit: Jim Larsen / The Record

Lutherans stick together, even if that means traveling hundreds of miles in an old, red bus to help a congregation on Whidbey Island.

What roughly 33 people found when they exited the old bus Thursday was a historic church in Clinton, Wash., badly in need of a paint job.

The contingent from Peace Lutheran Church in Baldwin, Wisc., was headed by John Hanson. It didn’t take him long to realize that visitors are viewed with suspicion among some islanders.

“Don’t tell them about us,” he was advised. “We’ve got enough tourists.”

Hanson and his troops were anything but tourists. It took several days to drive 1,600 miles across the badlands of the Dakotas and Montana, but the old bus managed to chug up every hill without steaming up.

Hanson counted two of his own children among the busload of 33 people, eight of whom were adults. When they arrived, they found an old church that was ready for a new paint job.

“It’s been a long time, we’ve been prepping for over a month,” said veteran church member Gordon Simmons, sitting comfortably in the heat in his big tractor with a handy-dandy frontloader.

Simmons credited fellow church member Gary VanDuse with organizing the major makeover, making sure the old building was pressure sprayed and otherwise fit to be repainted.

The volunteers from Wisconsin made short work of the job, starting before noon and finishing before the big church picnic that evening at Maxwelton.

In fact, the Peace Lutheran bus’ first stop in the Northwest was Seattle, not Clinton. The teenagers helped at the Union Gospel Mission, the “Redeeming Soles” used shoe shop, cleaned up at the city’s urban forest in West Seattle, and helped cook at a tent city, among other activities.

To Pastor Hanson, of the trip was a way to show the youngsters that good works are an important part of Christianity. They picked Trinity Lutheran because Johnson is an old friend of the pastor, the Rev. Mikkel Hustad.

“It’s been fun,” said one of the young volunteers with a drop of white paint on his nose.

Friday, the troop began the long journey back to Wisconsin, knowing that they left a large number of grateful people in their wake.

It was estimated the volunteer effort saved the small congregation $40,000 had they hired a contractor. Hustad also thanked local businesses for helping with the effort. They include Clinton Foodmart, Jim’s Hardware, Hanson’s Building Supply, the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, Probuild of Clinton, Ken’s Korner Red Apple, The Goose, and of course the church youth from Baldwin, Wisc.

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church celebrated its 100th anniversary about 10 years ago. With the new makeover, it’s assured many more years of existence.

Jim Larsen can be reached at 221-5300 or jlarsen@whidbeynewsgroup.com.

 

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