When Resurrection Lutheran Church opened in Verona in the late 1990s, there were nine families in the congregation and Sunday School classes were taught anywhere a classroom could be created on the fly.

“We had to make use of that facility ... but because of the smallness of the area, my wife and some of the other people that helped teach Sunday School literally would have it in different areas of the facility, like in the staircase,” Resurrection Lutheran Church charter member Gene Cate said. “We all spread out and used the room as best we could.”

The church will celebrate 20 years of services Sept. 13, having grown to around 400 members over two campuses, with the second in Monroe.

Reaching 20 years of services at Resurrection Lutheran Church is an affirmation in the work they’re doing spreading God’s Word, the Rev. Nathan Strutz said.

“It means that there’s always hope, and it means personally that we will never give up in spreading this message because we know it’s good news,” he said. “There are days you don’t feel like getting out of bed because I’m a person like everyone else, but it means I’ve always got a reason to get out of bed.”

Resurrection Lutheran Church started in 1996, after members from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Madison started to conduct outreach to Verona. They had noticed their Verona community within the congregation was growing, and the Rev. Douglas Tomhave was called to lead the church two years later.

They didn’t begin services until September 1999 when a space for worship was finished – with borrowed folding chairs – after years were spent trying to build momentum in the community.

“We shall not be quite the same without them,” a commission speech given at Our Redeemer celebrating Resurrection Lutheran Church’s beginning reads. “It is with sadness that we see them leave. But it is part of our life in Christ to distribute our gifts, to send out those who have come in and to scatter abroad the Word of Life.”

Strutz said “God blessed the church to grow,” as people brought their friends in to services and they found an atmosphere that made them want to come back.

Cate said it “feels like a blessing” to have been given the opportunity to be a part of starting the church.

One of his first thoughts when Resurrection first started, he added, was that with a lot fewer members than Our Redeemer – 20 in contrast to hundreds – he would have to be more involved with the new church, but it set him up to be ingrained in outreach work.

“What it meant to me was realizing how cool it was to be able to share God’s word,” Cate said. “It’s been very fulfilling seeing how much Resurrection is a part of the community.”

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.