Church invites community to celebrate 60 years and new worship center

Over the altar hangs a cross. At the top of the cross, a steel arch flows to the right, shaping the Greek letter P, creating one of the earliest forms of a Christogram, which is a Christian monogram for the Greek word for Christ. During each worship service, this cross is the focal point for members and guests of Peace Lutheran Church in Conway. The cross has borne witness to young couples making vows to one another, to parents watching the baptism of their babies and to mourners standing by caskets and holding their loved ones.

Sharon and Pastor Tom Boeck. Photo by Mike Kemp.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the church where members gather under the cross to celebrate “the body and blood of Christ” through communion; families walk the aisle to be blessed; and the elderly and sick take painful steps with walkers and canes to join with other believers in communion. Each week under the cross, prayers are spoken for the community, the military, the churches, the lost, the sick, the homeless and the helpless.

“At the foot of this cross, all are welcome,” said Karen Himes, a mission and outreach board member and church member. “Saints who have dedicated their life to the service of God, new believers, nonbelievers, the undecided and confused. We invite all to this cross because it represents the cross of Christ and at the foot of the King’s cross, all are welcome.”

Peace Conway has welcomed the community through its doors for 60 years. The membership recalls six decades of hearing the Word and participating in sacraments, six decades of prayer and service, and six decades of blessings that were sprinkled with challenges. For example, they had to tear down the original church building in 2020 due to safety issues upon the discovery of asbestos and lead paint, but they celebrate the blessing of turning the gym into a sanctuary while they raise money to build and expand.

Another loss was felt during COVID-19 when they could not gather around the communion table. Now, they celebrate the blessing of the church family coming together and not losing hope. Another loss is felt each time pastors are called to new congregations, but the members know that new pastors bring new perspectives, experiences and expertise in just the right time and place to fulfill God’s plans for the church.

In March 2023, Peace Conway was blessed with a new pastor and his wife, Tom and Sharon Boeck. They bring experience in real estate, commercial construction management, entrepreneurship and fundraising for local missions. “Most importantly, they bring the love of Jesus, matching the love this church family has for Christ and His children,” Himes said.

With fresh eyes comes a fresh vision for the church. Boeck has planted an excitement within the congregation for a new dedication—a dedication to the sanctuary, to ministering to the community and a dedication to meet needs both inside and outside the church walls. “He also wants us to be dedicated to a newly sown vision for the next 60 years,” Himes said.

The congregation decided to transform their gym into a sanctuary during their capital campaign. Members contributed the skills, talent, time and treasure to give the gym a facelift. They stripped the concrete floors and stained them, constructed a new platform and sanded the dust and blemishes of the old cross after years in storage. Then came the tedious task of moving microphones, speakers and computers and reconnecting them. Finally, flowers were arranged, curtains were sewn and furniture was moved, all while continuing to make room to gather each Sunday.

 On Feb. 11, they dedicated the new sanctuary. During the dedication service, Boeck prayed for blessings, comfort and peace to rest upon everyone present. As the Lord said through Moses, “In every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.”

“With fresh eyes comes a fresh vision for ministry,” Himes said. While Peace Conway has supported local ministries for 60 years, a new love for those in need has developed and a new planning team was formed. Members have a refreshed focus on meeting the needs outside the sanctuary. 

“The Holy Scripture calls us to be the hands and feet of Christ,” she said. “That requires feet to take us out to where the need is, and hands to provide comfort, food, strength and safety.

“Peace Conway is blessed to be a blessing,” Himes said. Members provide support to Haven House, Conway Ministry Center, City of Hope Outreach, Life Choices and Camp Trinity to meet needs in local areas.They also pray about how to best steward God’s money in support of missionaries both at home and overseas.

 “If you are in need of peace, longing for fellowship with God’s family, curious about Jesus, mad at Jesus or looking for answers to hard questions, please join us at the foot of the cross this Sunday at 9 a.m. for worship with Sunday school classes following,” Himes said.