This drone view of St. John’s Lutheran Church, with scenic Long Lake and the giant loon to the northeast; and the brand new fellowship hall addition on the church’s east side. The new facility will be celebrated at special worship and activities on Sept. 12.
St. John’s and the Vergas Methodist church are the two early churches in the community. Harvest Fellowship, on the north end of town, is a more recent addition to the Vergas faith community.
Also pictured, a similar aerial view in 1978.

Special dedication, worship Sept. 12 at Vergas St. Johns

By Louis Hoglund

When Shari Fankhanel was married at Vergas St. John’s Lutheran Church in 1972, grandparents and great-grandparents shuffled down to the lower sanctum for cake and coffee. 

No longer.

More than a century after the congregation organized, the church now has an impressive 76 by 48-foot addition. All one floor; all easy access for those with walkers and wheelchairs.

“We did almost everything in the basement,” said Fankhanel, a member of the building committee with deep roots with the Vergas church, officially established in 1915. The new fellowship hall project, which has been several years in the making, required “patience, perseverance, and prayer,” she added. 

The new hall will be dedicated at special worship and ceremonies Sept. 12, with Rev. Jacob Wagner officiating. 

The event will also be a centennial, as it was 100 years ago, 1921, that the original part of the building was erected. St. John’s also operated a parochial Lutheran school at the time.

The new hall incorporates church history, including refurbished stained glass windows and an antique overhead light from the original building. 

Brand new is a modern kitchen, complete with a commercial grade dishwasher. 

COVID slowed down building plans, but the church locked in on much of the building materials back in 2019—before the rapid increase in prices. 

An approximate $600,000 project, nearly 70 percent of it has been donated in advance or pledged.

Most materials and labor were local, as much as possible, noted Fankhanel with pride. 

Surrounded, to some extent, by Norwegians—Vergas was predominately German a century or more ago. The church was founded as “St. John’s German Lutheran, and many of the early documents are in the German language. St. John’s and its 200-plus members are today part of the Missouri Lutheran Synod. 

There are still descendants of some of the earliest