Our Saviour Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cadillac, Michigan, originally began holding services in a town twenty-five miles south of Cadillac. In 1994 Pastor Mark Bernthal of Gethsemane Lutheran Church (Saginaw, Michigan) started holding services every other week, first at Lincoln Township Hall outside of Reed City. The original families were CLC members in the area, as well as former members of the LC-MS and WELS who had left their churches for reasons of doctrine and practice. CLC video services were used on the Sundays when Pastor Bernthal was not present. Eventually services were moved to an elementary school in Reed City. However, the members felt the need to relocate services to an area with a greater population and potential for outreach.
Life at Our Saviour is to experience, in a small sliver
of time, at a little known city, God building His
Church brick by brick.
In 1966, therefore, services were moved to Cadillac. This afforded greater outreach potential, and it was also more centrally located for members north of Cadillac. The first Cadillac services were held in a conference room at a local hotel and resort called The Sands. Then, when this facility was no longer available, worship services were moved to a trailer which had been used as an office building on a former used car lot. Next, services were moved to a meeting room at a senior citizen apartment building called Kirtland Terrace.
In 1997 Pastor Walter Schaller, while acting as CLC exploratory missionary in the Grand Rapids area, started holding weekly afternoon services for Our Saviour. In 1999 he relocated to Cadillac to do further outreach. When Pastor Schaller was called to serve the greater Detroit area in 2000, Pastor Bernthal once again served Our Saviour. At this time Pastor David Schaller of Sister Lakes, Pastor Timothy Holland of Grand Rapids, and eventually Pastor Matthew Gurath of Coloma also assisted in the work, allowing Our Saviour to continue having weekly services. In 2004 Pastor Bernthal was called to serve in Middleton, Wisconsin. At this time, Our Saviour called Pastor Holland to hold weekly afternoon services and instruction classes as needed.
In 2005, with the help of a loan from the CLC, the congregation was able to purchase a dedicated church building which is being used to this day. The building is not modern (built in the early 1900’s), and originally was in need of some updating and repairs. Since that time, many of these repairs and upgrades have been completed, and the building has been more than adequate for the work the Lord has given us to do. The first service held in this new church was a baptism, a fitting blessing for the new location.
In 2011, Pastor Holland’s part-time secular job with FedEx in Grand Rapids became a full-time position in Cadillac. This brought about a move of the Holland family to Cadillac and the beginning of Sunday morning services for Our Saviour. Weekly, as the gospel calls us out of our work-a-day world to assemble in His name, we are strengthened in and cheered by that Gospel. Weekly, as we gather together with like-minded believers, we have opportunity to discuss our concerns and problems, to encourage and to be encouraged, to edify and to be edified by that all-sufficient Word. When death reaches out its hand and, one by one, begins to take the leaders and pillars of the church, the Gospel shines forth revealing that, once again, our Lord has been faithful to His promises and brought another blood-bought soul to heaven.
Clearly, it was not merely the people involved, nor the much-appreciated church building that made all this possible. Least of all was it time and chance. Rather, it is the gracious Word of our Savior that accomplishes all things. That Word moved the hearts of the Mission Board to send a man to do exploratory work. That same Word moved the hearts of local congregations to allow their pastors to hold Sunday services and instruction when Our Saviour had no pastor of its own. That same Word moved the hearts of members in the CLC to support Our Saviour in many ways, including prayers, offerings, and labor. That same Word moved our synod’s Traveling VBS to travel, pass out fliers, and bring the Gospel to the young. That same Word moved the hearts of pastors to write and provide sermons for Ministry By Mail. It is that same Word which creates what does not exist, and graciously gives what it demands.
Life at Our Saviour is to experience, in a small sliver of time, at a little known city, God building His Church brick by brick. He builds this upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone. His plan for our future is yet to be revealed. Yet we daily experience the promise that He will create, preserve, and extend His flock until He brings them to their heavenly home.
Timothy Holland is pastor of Our Saviour Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cadillac, Michigan