Editor's note: This is the second installment of a three-part series by Dakotafire Media on the changing face of faith in rural Dakotas. The United Church of Christ in Gackle, N.D., is a traditional church building with angels in its stained glass windows. A few blocks away, Grace Baptist Church has a more modest style and could blend in with the residences around it if not for the steeple on the rooftop. But despite their differences, the two churches share one thing: the Rev. Tim Blackman's presence on Sunday mornings.
Don’t come to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Britton on Sunday morning for worship — you will be about a half-day late. The church recently lost its full-time pastor, so the pastor of a joint parish in Andover and Ferney is leading services. There are not enough hours on Sunday morning to get to all the churches, so St. John’s is worshipping at 6 p.m. on Saturdays instead. Alternating church times may remain into the future. They had a joint parish with Peace Lutheran in Hecla, but that country church is considering closing. St. John’s won’t close, but it is also struggling.