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Trinity Lutheran rebounds from 1994 flood to celebrate 50th year

Trinity Lutheran Church, swamped in the flood of 1994, will celebrate its 50th Anniversary with a special service and reception on Sunday. Church Elder Leland Burkart, shown, urges all former church members to come to the church on Sunday to help celebrate the occasion.

Trinity Lutheran Church, swamped in the flood of 1994, will celebrate its 50th Anniversary with a special service and reception on Sunday. Church Elder Leland Burkart, shown, urges all former church members to come to the church on Sunday to help celebrate the occasion.

ALBANY -- Leland Burkart pointed to a mark on the wall of Trinity Lutheran Church on Whispering Pines Road and said, "that's how high the water was, six feet high throughout the building, It took us two years to recover."

Burkart, a church Elder, was referring to the flood of 1994 which devastated much of the city and the surrounding region.

"We had to totally gut the building," said Burkart. "The Lutheran Laborers for Christ helped with the bulk of the work. It took most of two years of very hard work."

But Trinity Lutheran and its parishioners rebuilt and slogged on. Sunday, the church will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Mike Zwemke, who served as the church's 10th pastor from 1979 to 2006, will conduct the special service which will commemorate the anniversary.

Founded in 1961 by a group of Air Force personnel stationed at Turner Field, the church and its roughly 25 founding members met in homes until buying the Whispering Pines property.

In 1962, the church got its first full-time pastor in Norman Smith, who remained at the post until 1969. Church membership reached a peak of 150 several years ago, according to Burkart, and the number now stands at "around 100"

The church has been looking for a full-time pastor for the past two years, and is currently being ministered in early Sunday Services by Earl Steffers of Tifton.

"It's true that we have been looking for a full-time pastor for nearly two years," Burkart said. "But you have to realize that Lutherans don't always do things the same way that others do."

All former members of the church are invited to the celebration, and to a reception which will be held after conclusion of services.