Our Story – Fruits of the Spirit

April 17, 2020

This history was compiled by Sue (Blumenstein) Karas who was part of the group responsible for our beloved and iconic Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit that have hung at the front of the sanctuary for many years. And while they had to be taken down for the recent painting; they are lovingly being repaired and restored to continue to be a part of New Life’s future. Sue said writing this story presented an opportunity for old friends to connect and great memories to be shared.

“We were a group of teens called Luther League. We met once a week during a time when church was the only activity on Sundays and most of the kids went to the same school. We were one big family.

The Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit were seen as a project that could be given to the church by the teens; building a sense of pride in the teens. I was a part of the Fruits; the Gifts came a few years later.  We were all able to choose a gift to create out of wood that meant something to us. We were told that as children of God we all had these same gifts from the Holy Spirit, but that each of us was unique in our personalities. So we were able to design them in our own way, which we all did! Bob Blumenstein and Ron Powley were just a few of the adults who spent many nights with their saws trying to get all the crooked letters to be cut out just right – which as you can see was quite a task!

I chose the word “JOY.” This little word tells so much about me. Joy was always a huge part of our family. However, when I went to design it I had a hard time stepping out of the box with creativity. I pressed through it and made my “O” crooked, but kept my “J” and “Y” straight. OK… who makes just the “O” crooked??…A teenager who grows up with a structured analytical mind to become a computer programmer. Now knowing this, when you look at these words, you may no longer just look with confusion because the letters are all so crooked, but maybe with curiosity. What was going through that teen’s mind at the time? Were they being carefree and whimsical enjoying the opportunity to express themselves, or were they struggling at the time as many teenagers do? Have they grown to be the adults who give back, since they were blessed with the time and commitment the adults gave to help them build these gifts for the church?. Although all of the adult names who helped us unfortunately cannot be remembered, their impact on this group definitely is.

Looking at those words now, it makes me think of faith – the faith that even though things are not perfect, they are still good and still worthy of bringing us joy. It reminds me to be the adult who gives back and helps build the foundation for young kids to know the love of God, even if it is as simple as allowing them to design a word that will hang crookedly in the church for over 40 years.  I am so grateful to have been given that gift.”

The Fruits of the Spirit were added in 1980 with the help of Dick Messel and Dick Davis doing the cutting. The Gifts of the Spirit were added later with the help of Bob Blumenstein and Ron Powley doing the cutting. The center picture above is of June Charnevsky and Sarah Martin cleaning and restringing the words in 1996 when the sanctuary was redecorated.