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VIDEO | Friedens Church in Jackson starting to take shape

Jackson, WI – It was July 2017 when Steve Kissinger closed on the purchase of the old Friedens Church on Cedar Creek Road and Highway P in Jackson.

The church on the hill dates to 1878; for the last three years it has been Kissinger’s restoration project of faith and love.

“If I find a collection plate I’m going to put it outside the front door,” said Kissinger.

Dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt and garden gloves, Kissinger was celebrating his purchase and questioning his future at the same time. “It’s definitely a little overwhelming,” he said.

Since the first tour in 2017 Kissinger has come a long, long way in the remodel process but he admits there’s still a long way to go.

So far he has knocked down walls in the lower level, removed tired carpet, fixed the two bathrooms, and created some wonderful pieces using wood he’s collected from the church during the remodel.

An extremely talented woodworker Kissinger has made a baptismal font, an altar, a lectern that matches the pulpit he rescued from another church in California, and there are a series of crosses all handcrafted by Kissinger.

Interesting to note the candles that bookend the altar were also made by Kissinger. “The gold metal pieces at the top and the base are actually cans from manderin oranges,” he said.

Over the summer he moved the pipe organ inside; Kissinger said that will take a while before it is complete. The organ itself sits to the right of the altar and the pipes are being installed in the choir loft.

In 2016 Kissinger and friend Terry Becker were completing a cemetery tour. Becker’s father and his grandparents are buried in the cemetery next to the church.

“My great great great grandparents were charter members,” said Kissinger. “And my great great grandparents are buried right next to the church.”

Photo courtesy Aerial Drone Photography

 

Built in 1878 the former church has definitely been neglected for many years. “It is in very poor condition,” said Kissinger. “And that’s being nice.”

All of the church furniture was removed long ago. Although a new roof was put in place in October 2016 there is significant water damage and some leakage. Kissinger has already reconciled “this will be a long-term project.”

He also realizes he has to pace himself. “If the steeple cannot be saved I would like to rebuild it to its original 1878 appearance,” he said.  “My friends are calling it St. Stevens.”

Kissinger’s plan is to work on it during the summer and hopefully have it ready by the time he retires, which is expected to be within the next year.

“I want to restore it and turn it into my own personal museum for all of my collections including a huge collection of the products from the West Bend Aluminum Company,” he said.

In the meantime, Kissinger has moved an old WWII pump organ into the building…. and if you listen close you can hear the hymn “Stand up for Jesus” coming through the doorway as you pass by.

 

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