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Former members of a Lutheran church in the Town of Tonawanda, who have been worshipping in their pastor’s living room since breaking away from their denomination in October, have found a permanent home in North Tonawanda.

Church of the Apostles, Lutheran, purchased the former 17th Avenue home of Vanguard Christian Church, which is moving to a larger building.

About 60 members of the new congregation held their first services there Feb. 9, said Rev. Troy Mulvaine, the church’s pastor.

“It’s exciting to be out of the living room,” he said. “People are happy. People are excited. Everybody’s really supportive.”

The former members of Augustana Lutheran Church on Eggert Road left the national Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over Biblical interpretations and differences on hot-button social issues. The splinter group takes a more conservative stance than the national denomination.

They had been using Mulvaine’s living room in the town for services and spare bedrooms for Sunday school.

“I think it was a good transition for all of us,” he said. “It really built community because everybody was sitting elbow-to-elbow.”

They purchased a large baptismal font in Cleveland with money donated to the church by a member who died shortly after the split, Mulvaine said.

“We couldn’t have afforded that otherwise,” he said.

That member’s great-niece will be the first person baptized in the church using the new font, he said.

Another member donated a baby grand piano that had gone unplayed since her sister died in 2001.

The congregation is also making improvements to the church, including refinishing hardwood floors and installing stained-glass windows.

Mulvaine said his group is looking forward and has had no contact with the national denomination since breaking away.

“We’re just praying for them and hope they pray for us as well,” he said.

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com