The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 7, 2008

Mankato woman turns old church into a healing center

It has been a dream of Char Lusher's for 30 years

By Amanda Dyslin

A 30-year-old dream for 66-year-old Char Lusher is slowly becoming a reality.

Lusher of Mankato is in the process of transforming a former multi-denominational church at 230 W. Fifth Street in Mankato into a healing center.

“That’s been a dream of mine for 30 years,” Lusher said. “My health care practice has had a strong holistic focus for years.”

Lusher, who is a retired nurse manager, said she would like to open a healing center that brings together both traditional healthcare and Spring Forest Qigong, an ancient Chinese technique (pronounced chee-gong).

The practice of Qigong involves healing others without actually touching them by manipulating a person’s energy with the mind. The concept focuses on the belief that pain is caused when someone’s energy isn’t flowing freely through the body and is blocked. Lusher said she learned about Qigong from an instructor in the Twin Cities, Master Chunyi Lin, who developed Spring Forest Qigong in the early 1990s.

According to Lusher, Qigong “essentially helps people to heal and works with what they are currently doing.”

“If someone is struggling with cancer or doing chemo, it would use this along with it,” said Lusher. “Miracles do happen, but the focus of this is to complement or add to what an individual is doing.”

But before Lusher could realize her dream of opening a healing center, she had to find a place to live. She came across the vacant church in 1992 while working at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.

“Someone at work told me about this place, and I came and looked at it, and it fit my price range and my needs,” Lusher said.

The building, which was built in 1912, needed a lot of work. Lusher moved into the property and began what would become a long renovation project. Not only did the building need two furnaces, but windows needed to be replaced and the foundation leaked.

“It seems like everything you start here, there are three to four other things you need to start first,” Lusher joked. “It’s an old building. ... Structurally it’s sound, but the wiring in here, it’s bad, so room by room it’s being done.”

Although Lusher had some renovation experience under her belt from working on other houses she lived in, Lusher said she referenced books to redo the plumbing and the wiring in the building.

“For the most part, I have done pretty much all of it myself,” she said. “If I had to pay for professionals to do (it), we would be well over $200,000 with repairs.”

Despite only one of the three floors being near completion, Lusher said she has put about $75,000 to $80,000 into the project for materials alone.

Friends and family have also pitched in to help her with the renovation, but it wasn’t always that way.

“When I first started, they thought I was absolutely insane. They didn’t have the same vision as I do,” Lusher said. “And now, it’s like, wow, this looks nice.”

Lusher isn’t sure when her project will finally be complete, but when it is, the building will include 3,500 square feet of living space.