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Published: Saturday, 12/28/2002

Lutherans close church designed for BG collegians

Community Lutheran was founded as a service to students at nearby BGSU. Community Lutheran was founded as a service to students at nearby BGSU.
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BOWLING GREEN - Community Lutheran Church, which began here in 1948 as a ministry to students in this Wood County college town, is closing after the final worship service at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow .

The Rev. Richard Gahl, executive director of the Ohio District, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said declining attendance led to a decision to cease funding for the church, which has been primarily supported by the district's mission board.

“We had good pastors, we gave it our best attempt, but it's just not viable.”

Mr. Gahl said Community Lutheran began as a campus ministry out of Concordia Lutheran Church in Toledo and became a congregation with a student focus in the 1990s. During the 1960s and the 1970s, as many as 150 students were participating, but that number had dropped to 55 in the late 1990s and by this year, average Sunday attendance was around 24.

The ministry was turned into a congregation after officials discovered many students were going to another Lutheran church because they wanted an atmosphere closer to what they had at home.

“It just didn't work,” Mr. Gahl said. “We start two to three churches across the district in a year and periodically we find that one of them doesn't make it.” He said for a congregation to support a full-time pastor and ministry programming, about 125 people must worship there regularly.

Since 1986, the Ohio District's mission board has invested more than $800,000 in the ministry, Mr. Gahl said.

Community Lutheran's pastor, the Rev. Ron Rosenkaimer, will be moved to a new assignment, Mr. Gahl said. Mr. Rosenkaimer declined to comment on the closing. No decision has been made on what to do with the building, which is at 1124 East Wooster St., across from the Bowling Green State University campus.

Mr. Gahl said a pizza party for students probably will be held there next month and some other activities may continue for a time. He expects most of the students to attend nearby St. Mark Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The next closest Missouri Synod Lutheran church is Shepherd of the Valley in Perrysburg, about 15 miles away.

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