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The Union Church in La Harpe will celebrate "30 Years of Blessings" at an open house on March 31st from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Annex located on the east edge of La Harpe.
The community is invited to attend.
In early 1982 newlyweds Bruce and Maggie Goettsche moved from Michigan to La Harpe to begin what has now become a 30 year journey with the Union Church.
On February 1, 1982, with approximately 40 faithful members in attendance, Pastor Goettsche preached his first sermon.
The ensuing years were filled with changes for the Union Church and the Goettsche family. The church added Bible studies, the bell choir, radio broadcasts, Christmas Eve Eve Service, an associate minister, a church office manager, a second worship service, an AWANA program for young children, and many new faces in the congregation.
A church website was established in 1996 and now receives around 1,100 visits each day! The website contains the manuscripts to about 800 sermons.
A new addition was added to the church in 1993, air conditioning was installed, lighting was updated, and though thrilled with the addition of a sound system in 1985 it has since been replaced with a multi-media system.
The Goettsche family also grew. They were blessed with a son, Rick (whose birth on a Sunday morning almost caused church to be cancelled the only time in 30 years), and a daughter, Rachel. Their marriages brought Sarah and Michael into the family.
Rick and Sarah's children Gabe and Gracie let Bruce and Maggie enter the world of grandparenthood.
Rick became a member of the pastoral team when he was hired as the associate pastor of the Union Church in 2006. He was ordained in 2011. Rachel has also returned to the area and is a Physical Therapist.
Over the years the church has performed cantatas, held concerts, gone on mission trips, sold pie and ice cream at La Harpe's Summerfest, had picnics, and done community projects.
Bruce has written four books (the fourth was co-authored with Rick) that are all available on Amazon.com.
The church radio ministry, "God's Truth for Daily Living" began in 1997 and continues to grow. Bruce (and now Rick) can be heard Sunday mornings on KBUR (Burlington), WCAZ (Carthage, IL), KMDY (Keokuk) and WGNX (Macomb).
There is also a 15 minute weekday version of the broadcast that airs at 6:00 p.m. on KMDY and WGNX. Recently the church has also added weekday broadcasts in Lincoln, IL on WLLM.
Despite the many changes and updates over the years, some things still remain the same...the pipe organ is still in use, the main focus of the church is to praise God, and Bruce Goettsche continues to preach systematically through books of the Bible.
Weekly attendance at the two services (8:00 and 10:30 a.m.) now averages a little over 200.
Pastor Goettsche attributes his long tenure to a hungry congregation and a group of leaders in the church who have worked hard to keep the church fresh and growing.
We recognize that the ministry of the church has reached well beyond the walls of the sanctuary. So please join us on Saturday, March 31st as the Union Church celebrates "(the first) Thirty Years of Blessings."
The open house will be held at the Annex in La Harpe from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. A light lunch will be served.