The small town of Kilgore, Texas, about an hour west of the Louisiana border, has had its own Lutheran church for nearly as long as it has had oil pumpjacks. The congregation originally met in the American Legion Hall, and then in 1953 – with the help of a loan from the Texas District Church Extension Fund (CEF) – began constructing its own dedicated buildings on its current location.
In the years since, the congregation at Pilgrim Lutheran has continued to expand, drawing in younger families. More space became necessary, and in 2014, a plan was formed to build a new Parish Hall with more Sunday School classroom space. With another loan from the CEF, the massive change began in May 2015: the old Parish Hall first was converted into much-needed office space, and the groundbreaking on the new Parish Hall happened just a few months later.
The new hall had its official Blessing on July 16. The intervening two years without a Parish Hall have been challenging for the congregation, says Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler, pastor at Pilgrim Lutheran. The wait has made the opening of the new building that much more exciting: the very next day after the Blessing, the new space was immediately put to good use, hosting a Vacation Bible School that ran the full week. Adult Bible classes and Sunday Schools have also begun meeting in the new hall.
The new space will also be a blessing for Kilgore at large. “We hope to use the new space, not just for ourselves, but for our local area,” says Steven Sampson, chairman of the Capital Improvements Committee. The church leadership is still discussing what form this will take.
“We appreciate the Texas District Church Extension Fund’s making a loan available to us for the improvement of our facilities,” says Pastor Galler. “And, we pray that the investments members are making with CEF continue to be blessings to them, our congregation, and the District at large.”