Families Grow with Bethany Lutheran

Article excerpt

Byline: Carolyn C. Armistead Daily Herald Correspondent

For most observers, there was the sensation of experiencing an important historical moment. For a handful of others, it also was a time to reflect on memories reaching back 70 years.

The occasion was the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone at the new Bethany Lutheran Church and school under construction on Modaff Road in Naperville.

For Marjorie Purpur Staffeldt of Naperville, the ceremony triggered memories of another day of celebration, one that occurred when she was just 4 years old.

In contrast to this steamy Sunday in early September, it was a chilly March day in 1927 when the cornerstone was laid for the first Bethany Lutheran Church in downtown Naperville - a building that now houses a Century 21 office.

Although she was a young child, Staffeldt still recalls that "it was a gloomy, cloudy day. I remember being there with my mother."

Staffeldt's parents were among the charter members of the church.

"Certain things do make an important stamp and stay with you all your life," she said.

Lynne and Warren Hergenhahn of Naperville were present when the congregation celebrated the laying of the cornerstone at the second, and current, building at 919 S. Washington St. It was 1959, but Warren Hergenhahn doesn't remember much about the day other than, "It was cold."

His grandfather also was a charter member of the church. And both of his parents - now in their mid-80s - were baptized there. The Hergenhahn's children attended Bethany Lutheran School, and now their grandchildren - the fifth generation of the family to attend the church - also are enrolled in the school.

As for the original 1927 cornerstone, it has been preserved and will be placed on the new church's lawn (once there is one) as a memorial.

The second one, however, "is too big and awkward. It's actually part of the wall" and will not be moved, said the Rev. Timothy Rossow, pastor. The new church and school are scheduled to open in January or February.

Although Bethany Lutheran Church boasts a few lifelong members with ties that date back to its inception, it is the steady addition of new members in this area of meteoric growth, which Warren Hergenhahn likens to "growing a pumpkin in a bottle," that necessitates the need for the new, larger building.

Rossow said there are advantages and disadvantages to having a large church - with some advantages being an impressive number of ministries and services, in a church that operates "seven days a week. …