WINONA LAKE – The Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, 1200 Kings Highway, will launch its 75th year on Sunday with a dedication of its new facility for children’s ministries, the Link.

The building will be used for Sunday school, children’s church, and the Kids Korale on Sundays as well as the Wednesday night program for children called SPLASH. Located adjacent to the church, it most recently was the site of Tree of Life Bookstore.

Cost of the project is about $2.1 million and represents the church’s biggest project in its history.

The dedication will take place in worship services at 8:45 and 11:15 a.m. Tours of the Link will be available at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

The dedication is the first in a series of special church and community events to mark the church’s diamond anniversary.

The Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church had its beginnings in 1943 while World War II raged in Europe.

While most people’s eyes were on the “war effort,” 40 people in Winona Lake took on an additional task. They decided to plant a new church in their community, putting themselves in the center of another conflict – the battle for the spiritual lives of men, women, children and students.

The church initially met in homes of its members for prayer and Bible study. Within months, the new Grace Seminary library, located in the Free Methodist Publishing House (now the Mount Memorial Building at Grace College), was secured as a place to hold worship services.

When the congregation outgrew the library, services moved to the lower level of McClain Hall on the campus of Grace College and Seminary.

The first building project began with a $30,000 mortgage from Lake City Bank that enabled the purchase of property at the corner of 13th Street and Kings Highway. The current building was constructed on that corner and dedicated in 1969. At that time, the congregation included about 300 people.

The church family now includes more than 1,000 adults, students and children. It has a legacy of commitment to families in the community and is known especially for its ministries to children and students.

The Link will provide secure teaching and training spaces for children in kindergarten to sixth grade and is expected to be a link, or bridge, to serve more and more families in the community.

The opening of the Link is the culmination of a three-year process. In late 2014, the church began discussions with the Brethren Missionary Herald Co. about purchasing its building located at the corner of Kings Highway and Publishers Drive and adjacent to the church.

Built in the mid-1950s, it has a heritage of service to the family of Grace Brethren churches and organizations both nationally and internationally. In addition to housing offices, warehouse space and the Herald Bookstore, it served as the headquarters for a number of Grace Brethren organizations and was a de facto “denominational” headquarters. From 2006-16, it housed the Tree of Life Bookstore, which served as the campus store for Grace College.

In 2016, the church entered into a capital project of more than $2 million to purchase the building, develop a remodeling plan, and accomplish the renovation of the exterior and first floor of the facility.

The church worked with the Aspen Group through all phases of the project. Construction took place from June through December 2017.