Pioneer church

Eventually, attendees of the annual Pioneer Power Show will be able to mingle inside this church, which now sits five miles away in Lexington. Shown are (from left) Loren Riebel, Pioneer Power President Tom Graham and Rev. Kevin Clinton of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in New Prague.

When even the earliest settlers crossed the Atlantic and set up villages, one of the first things they did was figure out where to worship.

And that was more than enough reason for Loren Riebel, several months back, to do what he did.

He heard there was a vacant church in Lexington — St. Joseph’s Catholic Church — a victim of declining church memberships that have plagued parishes nationwide. He’s also been a member of the Pioneer Power Show for years, and one of the few things the annual agriculture extravaganza lacks is a church.

So $67,000 in fundraising later, Riebel and the donors who fell in with his cause are about to bring a little more authenticity to a show that, as its name suggests, honors the earliest Minnesotans and their agrarian way of life.

In about a week, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church will be picked up, put on wheels and rolled down a Le Seuer County Road 26, roughly five miles, to its new home at the Pioneer Power Show grounds.

Riebel got the Archdiocese of St. Paul to sell him the building for $1 with the agreement the church remain intact. The costs, however, will come from the move. It will cost about $75,000 to move the 35-feet-by-80-feet building, and Riebel is still looking for donations to cover the rest.

For the updated story, see the print edition of the July 27 issue of The Free Press, or sign on to our e-edition.

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