PARK FALLS - Many people in the Northwoods go to church on Sunday mornings, and for some of them it may be begrudgingly.
But there are plenty of people, often elderly or sick, who want to go to church but have a hard time doing so.
Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls wanted to change that. Since May, they've been undergoing some construction. On Sunday, the church had a dedication ceremony for a special new addition—an elevator.
Now people like 100-year-old Ruth Olson can worship with greater ease.
Before the elevator, Olson said she would get to church by literally pulling herself up the stairs using the railing.
Olson's story is like many. As the older population grows, church buildings don't evolve with them. The buildings are often old and sometimes lack accomodating features for the elderly or disabled, and takes money to update the buildings.
"We have churches where the people are getting older and it's very hard for people to get around," said Rev. Dwayne Lueck, the district president for the North Wisconsin District Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.
Some parishoners couldn't do what Ruth used to do, and so they would have to worship at a service held across the street in the day care center, instead of in the beautiful church.
"Now all the services can be over here," said Rev. Dale Heinlein, the pastor of Peace Lutheran.
The congregation at Peace Lutheran believed in an elevator, so they paid for it.
"We been talking and planning this for...a long time," said Dick Ross, president of the congregation. "Pretty hard for some of the people, and I think you saw them, pretty hard for some of the people to worship here, so it was time."
"You can see it in their eyes more than anything when they know they have access and when they come up here and just enter the building and no steps, it's a great thing," said Buzz Peters, a parishoner who helped design the new elevator and space.
"We can finally have access for everybody to get into the worship facility, free access, that's what this is all about," Heinlein said.