First built in 1911, Stillwater Free Lutheran Church in Kalispell ranks among the oldest churches in the Flathead Valley, and much like the rest of the valley, it’s beginning to grow too big for its britches.
In an effort to preserve the historic value of the 107-year-old building, the church has begun raising money for an additional building to give the growing congregation and church ministry groups more space.
The new activity and fellowship center will provide groups like 4-H Clubs, a volleyball ministry, Awana and youth groups the room they need, but at a cost of around $1 million, according to the Rev. Craig Scavo.
So far, Scavo said the church has raised around $200,000 through traditional fundraisers, but two members of the church have stepped up with a fresh idea to help bridge the gap.
Kali Brubaker, 16, and her mother, Julie Brubaker, started planning a community fair in December to be held at the church this summer.
Kali said she introduced the idea to the congregation and got an immediate response from other members wanting to contribute. When the Brubakers opened the fair up to the community, the response grew even larger.
Scheduled for today, June 9, the fair will include a petting zoo, bouncy house, vintage car raffle, silent auction, rummage sale, bake sale, old-time portraits, face painting, concessions, booths by multiple local businesses and organizations, Kalispell’s first knockerball tournament and more.
Prompted by a community service project assignment for her various school clubs, Kali, a sophomore at Glacier High School, said she started out just wanting to find a way to help out the church she and her mom have attended for the last six years.
“It’s really helped us become the people that we are,” Kali said. “It kind of feels like everyone there is a family. We know each other very well and everyone helps each other out.”
That family oriented attitude, Kali said, has resulted in a much larger response and subsequently a much larger fair than she, her mother or their pastor ever anticipated.
“It’s been really encouraging to see how much the community is willing to help out,” Kali said. “It’s just become this pretty big thing that we’re pretty excited for.”
Kali said she hopes the construction of the new community center will give the younger members of the church and community center room to grow and play, with a basketball court, volleyball court, fellowship space and classrooms.
“[The church] is a very busy place, but it just doesn’t have quite the room it needs for it to be as successful as I think it should be,” Kali said.
Another factor that prompted the fair, Kali said, was the church’s desire to expand their influence in the community and “share the good news” with their neighbors.
Scavo said the new facility will also be available for free public use during designated times, allowing local kids and adults to utilize the recreational and fellowship spaces for free.
Scavo hopes the church will be able to begin groundwork on the new building this summer, depending on the funding obtained in the meantime.
All proceeds from the fair on Saturday will go toward funding the community center.
The fair will take place Saturday, June 9 at the church, located at 1401 Church Drive in Kalispell, from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Teams of four to six player teams will compete in knockerball matches from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Teams can still sign up and the cost to join is $50 per team.
Public free play will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
To sign up, call 314-0175.
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.