Trinity Lutheran steeple born again with community help

Bright and shiny, the steeple above Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland is now harder than ever to miss.

On Saturday, the steeple was removed for the first time in 16 years in a community effort so it could be refurbished. Although things didn’t go exactly as planned, the church beacon is once again resting safely atop its perch above the worship sanctuary.

“It was wonderful,” said Pastor Jim Lindus, of the day’s activities. “It was a great sense of community.”

The steeple was taken down with the assistance of volunteers from Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and Hanson Building Supply. Employees from the companies were there by 10 a.m. working to loosen the bolts that had secured the aluminum structure to the roof since it was placed there 16 years ago.

Nichols Brothers workers built the steeple for free when the church was built in 1996, and one of the four men that worked on the original project, Mark Jackson, was present Saturday to help bring it back to its former glory.

“It’s a small community,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to help out when you can.”

The rehab wasn’t without a few hiccups. It took awhile to free the steeple from its mount and once it was, one of the four support legs broke off when it was lowered to the ground.

“I was thankful no one was under it,” Lindus said.

Although made from aluminum, a lightweight metal, the leg fell with enough force to smash through a wooden sawhorse below. Lindus said he thought the accident would certainly delay the plan to have the steeple back up by sundown but he was pleasantly surprised.

Matt Nichols, CEO of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, threw the cross section in the back of his truck and sped off to the yard to make repairs. At the same time, members of the congregation and other volunteers attacked the legs with angle grinders.

In just a few hours, all four legs had been polished to gleam and Nichols was soon back with the rest. By about 4:30 p.m., the steeple was back in place and gleaming in the summer sun.

“I was out getting my paper the next morning and there was this bright, shining cross looking at me,” Nichols said.

Also replaced was the skylight under the steeple, and members of the church worked on several other projects as well. Wood chips were spread on the playground, niches were added to the columbarium, curbs installed in the parking lot, landscaping performed, and a whole lot of cookies eaten by hungry workers.

“Overall, it was a great day,” Lindus said. “This is community at its best.”


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