Charter member Hank Gurtz said the church started in an era when people were moving into the area for the many available jobs. As families followed the jobs out of town throughout the years, attendance suffered, but a core of dedicated members has kept the church strong.
“We lost 2,500 jobs in the last 50 years, but we’ve been able to maintain the church. We’re dedicated Lutherans, and we’re fortunate to have dedicated members,” Gurtz said.
Gurtz said the church hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years, and, ironically, the only big change came when the church refused to change.
Resurrection Lutheran originally belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, but when the ELCA began changing its doctrinal stances on issues such as gay marriage and abortion, Resurrection wouldn’t follow. Instead, the church became pioneer charter members of the North American Lutheran Church.
“We exited the ELCA. We always felt we needed to stand with the Bible. Today, there are a lot of people in our diocese,” Gurtz said. “We didn’t change as much as everybody else changed. We’re not fanatical about anything — we just didn’t change at all.”
The church has remained strong enough that it is currently in the process of an expansion project that will add a new pastor’s study, a work room, extra classrooms and offices, and new handicapped-accessible bathrooms. Existing office space with be converted into an entryway, and display cases will be added to showcase the artifacts Borows obtained during a two-month study trip to Israel.
Funding for the expansion was generated through barbecues, hot dogs sales and craft shows. Martinez said the fundraising committee has raised about $4,000 more than its goal of $100,000.
Roy Martinez, trustee for Resurrection Lutheran on Catawba, talks about the church’s upcoming building expansion. (Photo: Sheri Trusty/Correspondent)
Borows said he never expected to remain at the church for 40 years.
“When I came, I felt I’d be here seven or eight years. But whenever the possibility to leave came up, there were always things I needed to see through. Before I knew it, 40 years had gone by,” he said. “I was always finding my work isn’t done here.”
Borows had planned to finish his ministry in his home state of Florida, but his work here and the people he was serving kept him on Catawba.
“When the opportunity came to go to Florida, I found many more reasons to stay here,” he said. “The people here are very great and very supportive. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Rofkar said the congregation is grateful for that commitment.
“Pastor Borows is very dedicated to this place. He loves the people, and he loves the work,” she said.