The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
It was only twelve years ago that Pastor Jim and Carol Olsen came to serve the Stronghurst Bethel Lutheran Church as an Interim Pastor when Pastor Youngquist had to spend time in the hospital.
They continued to serve until Pastor Kline came in July. Pastor Kline left Bethel in 2000 because of his health.
In October of 1997 the Olsens began their service at the Raritan Reformed Church and this continued until 2001 when Bethel and Raritan agreed to share their ministry.
In 2003 the congregations installed Pastor Jim as full time pastor for both congregations.
During the years of service there have been several changes.
Raritan added a handicap accessible entry to the sanctuary on the east side of the church. Later the kitchen was remodeled and enlarged with cabinets, new wiring, and new plumbing.
In August 2005, Raritan celebrated their 150th anniversary as a congregation.
This was a joyful time to thank God for the opportunity of serving the community and also being involved in the support of Missionaries Larry and Linda McAuley in Africa.
The Raritan congregation is not large in numbers but is faithful with their support of Christ's mission here and around the world.
At Bethel the stewardship of the congregation has improved each year.
The attendance continues to grow, thanks to the faithful commitment of the members. Over these years they have remodeled the restrooms and added worship banners for the seasons and special days.
The congregation has made significant support to Henderson Count Food Pantry, Oak Lane Nursing Home, and have helped people in the community who have had special needs.
The first Sunday in November will be the last Sunday for the Olsens.
Pastor Olsen says, "It is difficult to leave but as I will be observing my 80th birthday in November, it feels like it is time for a new pastor to serve the two congregations".
The Olsens will be moving back to their home in Monmouth.