"Come and go with me to my Father's house! It's a big, big house with lots and lots of room..."

"The Lenora House provides a real enhancement to the preservation of the old Lenora United Methodist Church," said the Rev. Mark Woodward, speaking of progress being made at Lenora House, the little house adjoining the rustic pioneer church in the Fillmore County village of the same name.

Remodeling work on Lenora House has come a long way since Christmas services were held at the church in December, said Woodward. The offerings included an unnamed donation of $5,000. Yet the building still needs a good $10,000 of work on it by the volunteers who so willingly and fondly give of their time to the project.

Boice concert on May 6

That's where a special fundraising event on Sunday, May 6, will provide help. Another set of volunteers - popular singers Brad and JulAnn Boice of Chatfield - will give a concert beginning at 3 p.m. Woodward said they'd present "gospel and fun, happy music."

He continued, "Brad Boice and his wife JulAnn are really talented and fun musicians. Brad is well known for his portrayal of 'Elvis.' This will be an afternoon for the entire family to come enjoy some good gospel music and have fun together at the old Lenora Church!"

Harmony native Brad Boice stated, "JulAnn and I are really looking forward to the Lenora show. This concert will be different from our 'Elvis Tribute' or 'Toast to the Classics' shows, but it is a concert we truly love to perform.

"We'll be singing mostly gospel and inspirational songs, songs with a message of God's love for us... as Pastor Woodward would call them, 'fun and happy songs.' We will be taking a free-will offering during the show and 100 percent of the money donated will go to the LUMC."

The Lenora House

Woodward observed that the Civil War-era church draws people together.

"In the opinion of many, this old church is a very special place for people of all different backgrounds to meet. It preserves Fillmore County history and allows for all people to experience God's love in a very special setting. The Lenora Church is an excellent example of a pioneer church building in Fillmore County from the mid 1800s."

The church was acquired in 1986 and the Lenora House in 1998.

"It was visionary to acquire (Lenora House) at the time. It was a private residence. We bought it for the church," said Woodward.

The building will provide an indoor restroom, a meeting place for small groups, events, Bible study groups, small wedding receptions, community events, church programs and more. Plus, soon it will have modern facilities. The property also includes three acres that provide a parking lot for Lenora Church and Lenora House events.

Volunteers, donations help

The remodeling project gained momentum in 2010, according to Woodward. In fact, that summer his wife, the Rev. Deanna Woodward of Peace United Methodist Church, Plainview-Elgin, had her youth group work on the house as a mission project.

"They had a blast," chuckled her husband, who is pastor of Peace United Methodist Church of Eyota, including the chance to break an old toilet in the yard with a sledgehammer. But it was all in good fun.

Rochester area Boy Scouts also built a picnic pavilion.

Woodward added, "When it's done, we'll have a nice reception area and a hall."

A pair of volunteers working on a Saturday in March on the project included Kerry and Nancy Soiney of Preston, who were married at the church. Kerry noted his father had grown up a couple miles from Lenora. He has a soft spot for it.

Another volunteer that day, Mike Holzer of Wykoff, said that John Goutcher - a lay pastor at Preston United Methodist Church, as well as Woodward's preaching sidekick at most of the straightforward and at times amusing Lenora services - had hired him in 1969 to teach at Wykoff. Holzer retired in 2004. He's also a licensed carpenter and drew up the plans for the Lenora House.

Holzer and Soiney are often working at the site a couple days a week. Other members of the volunteers informally called the "Friends of Lenora" include Goutcher and Kevin Ostern of Preston.

Woodward stated, "Over the last several months, the greatest progress has been made: new shingles, new windows and doors, new siding and insulation, and new electrical and plumbing. The interior is now gutted out and ready for sheetrock and wainscoting. The Lenora House will feature some of the original wainscoting salvaged from the old Lenora Town Hall that was destroyed in the early 1980s. These are some exciting days right now!"

Church calls to people 

Brad Boice said, "The Lenora United Methodist Church is such a historic place, not just for Fillmore County, but for Minnesota, and really the United States. How many 150-plus-year-old churches are still around? I'm pretty sure there aren't many.

"We are lucky to have so many volunteers that saw what a treasure this old church is. Those volunteers decided to take the initiative to preserve the church, so today others can see where local people came in the 1800s to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

He added, "JulAnn and I are very happy to help bring attention to the LUMC. We are a very, very small part in the big picture for preserving the LUMC and its adjacent Lenora House."

He noted there are many businesses and volunteers who donate time, talents and supplies to the church. There are also the people who attend the events at LUMC.

Boice said, "Some may be first-time visitors who are curious and want to see the old church. Others are regular attendees to LUMC events. Both types of visitors know just how important a church building like this is, so they willingly donate to help with upkeep and expenses.

"We'd like to invite everyone out to LUMC to enjoy an afternoon with friends, fellowship and some good old gospel, inspirational and 'happy' music."

Mark your calendar

Woodward commented, "This fundraiser will be a great way to help bring the Lenora House closer and closer to completion. Currently, we need to raise several thousand dollars to complete the house. We are making good progress, but we need to keep moving forward.

"We are so grateful for the accomplishments being made at the historic Lenora Church. We're moving forward to the glory of God - we're really excited about this event, and we are very thankful to Brad and JulAnn Boice for their support and kindness. They are great people."

The pastor said he really hopes people can come and enjoy the afternoon - "the fun, happy and uplifting music" - and bring an offering for the ongoing work at the historic church. The 2012 schedule of events at Lenora Church also will be available on May 6 to allow planning for attendance at future events.

It's time to mark this date as a "must attend" on the calendar. The concert at Lenora United Methodist Church will be held Sunday, May 6, at 3 p.m.

"Everyone is invited and welcome to come," stated Woodward. "Thank you for all of your support and kindness, all to the glory of God, from the Friends of Lenora, the entire team!"

Lenora United Methodist Church is located a little over a block northeast of the junction of Fillmore County Roads 23 and 24 in Lenora. Additional financial donations for the renovation of Lenora House can be sent to Lenora Church treasurers Bart and Pam Seebach at P.O. Box 10, Eyota, MN 55934.