JACKSON TWP.  Serving the community for half century, the St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church in Jackson Township is planning for a yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary. The church sits at the corner of Fulton Road and Dressler Road NW.

Part of its success over the years is that it welcomes everyone. And, everyone is invited to the many events held throughout the next year to help the membership celebrate decades of success and growth.

It’s a church where Pastor Bruce Roth said, "We are church known as a place where love lives and love grows."

The first service was held on November 20, 1966, at the Lake Cable Clubhouse before the church was built. Members returned to the club house for commemorative service this past Nov. 20.

Roth said as the congregation grew, so did the need for a church. Then Pastor Ned McMillen was called upon to help encourage the congregation to purchase land and build the "A-framed" sanctuary in 1972. The church would expand in size in 1986 and again in 2000.

Roth became pastor in the same year as the last expansion. His mission, along with the congregation, continues today to be to help others through God’s love.

"Part of our fabric and mission is that we all take to heart that God loves us and he loves through us," Roth said. "We all share that love through a servant’s heart when we help others such as the Habitat for Humanity, Urban Ark and Webster Springs where we help setup a vacation Bible School."

Roth said the people of the church are always welcoming and even the building itself is warm and inviting. Most sections of the church get used for various meetings and gatherings.

"We try to build in ways to help others in our gatherings," Roth said. "One example is that the coffee we serve is purchased through Lutheran World Release which is helps small coffee growers in underdeveloped countries."

St. Stephen Martyr is planning many events for the year that include live music, special dinners and a pig roast among other events. Roth said all the events planned for the yearlong celebration are free and open to the public.

The next event coming up starts at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at the church with the Harmony Ringers Holiday Concert. For a complete list of events, visit http://www.wherelovelives.org/50th-anniversary-celebration.