FOREST CITY | The old-fashioned charm and intimacy of the nearly 130-year-old Beaver Creek Church at Heritage Park of North Iowa draws people from near and far for its annual Christmas service.
The pews of the little country church were nearly full for the Dec. 15 service, which included Scripture readings and the singing of Christmas carols.
At the end of the service, the church was filled with the glow of the white candles everyone held as they sang "Silent Night."
A soup supper was held in the church basement afterwards.
Beaver Creek is a Scandinavian church built in 1890 near Joice. It was moved to Heritage Park in 2002.
Ardelle Osnes of Forest City, who celebrated her 90th birthday on Dec. 22, was baptized and confirmed at Beaver Creek as a child.
She has fond memories of going to Sunday School and the annual Christmas program.
"I sang solos here at age 5," said Osnes.
Ron Holland House Moving of Forest City moved the church to Heritage Park.
Osnes said Holland did such a good job that nothing inside moved even "one-eighth of an inch."
Services are held at the church during events at Heritage Park, such as the Steam Threshing Festival.
Osnes' husband, Russell, used to lead those services. After he died in 2006, Ardelle arranged the services until 2013, when the Rev. Doug Snyder became the resident pastor.
Snyder wasn't able to be at this year's service, so Forest City resident Scott Mathiasen filled in for him.
"I think it feels like a step back in time," said Mathiasen, who had never been inside Beaver Creek Church before.
Mathiasen said he loves "the simplicity of it and the sense of community here."
"It's a beautiful old place," he said.
Raymond and Susan Jirele of Waseca, Minnesota, make the nearly 150-mile round trip to Forest City every December so they can attend the Christmas service.
Raymond, a tractor enthusiast, attends one or two shows at Heritage Park each year, "so he thinks he has to come for Christmas, too," said Susan with a smile.
She doesn't mind.
"It's a delightful service," she said.