Honoring the Past, Building the Future

From Our Pastor

Dear Members and Friends,church

For many decades our building here at St. John’s Lutheran Church has served as a center not only for our members’ spiritual and fellowship lives, but also as a center for our community’s life. So many vital events have taken place here, from baptisms, weddings and funerals, to deeply meaningful worship experiences, faith formation, educational ministries, enriching fellowship moments, important community events and deeply held memories of times shared with family and friends. Our building has served us well over these nearly 100 years as a place where God’s presence and God’s love have been made real for us. It is a place that holds deep meaning for each and every one of us. Like a mighty fortress it has stood as a central place in which we have lived our lives, shared special moments with family and friends and felt God’s amazing grace as very real for us. It is deeply emotional for us as we consider the future of our ministry here and do our best to be faithful to God’s call to be the church in this place while at the same time realizing that facilities matter in terms of how we are able to shape and carry out the ministries we believe best share God’s love and God’s word in our community. As beautiful and meaningful as our current building is, we have determined at a congregational meeting held on January 26 of this year that in order to be equipped better to fulfill the mission to which we have been called a new church facility will provide us with a better chance to enrich the spiritual and fellowship lives of our members and serve as a center for our community’s greater life.

As pastor here for nearly 25 years I have grown deeply attached to our current building and will grieve its loss. However, as pastor here for nearly 25 years I have come to understand that as the world around us changes and the needs of communities change, even though the Gospel message of life through Christ remains the same, we provide ourselves a much better opportunity to share relevant ministry far into the future in a facility that meets current and future congregational and community needs. A building which is totally accessible, technologically up-to-date, efficient in both winter and summer and designed around our congregation’s ministry needs and community life will become a platform from which we can share God’s good news in ever more unique and exciting ways.

In order to continue the process leading to the construction of a new building we have given our building committee permission to contact construction firms and architects to put a final plan together for congregational approval. Along with that we have contracted the services of Kirby Smith Associates to aid us in running a capital campaign to raise money for a new church structure. “Honoring the past… Building the future” has been chosen as the theme for our Capital Campaign and building program. We honor our past and remember all who have gone before us at St. John’s and who did whatever was necessary to ensure that God’s word is proclaimed and God’s love is shared as fully as possible in this place. We realize also that our ancestors in the faith looked to the future and worked to provide those who come with a rich heritage and the tools to make ministry thrive. As pastor, I ask you to consider prayerfully how you can be a part of our new venture and how you can use your time, talents and treasure to make our vision of our future ministry happen.

With Thanksgiving for your service,
Rev. Joseph A. Serafin

Campaign Prayer

Gracious and Loving God, you have blessed us abundantly. In your divine mercy you have given us a mission and a place in which to share your love. You have graced us with a multitude of talents and abilities to use in expressing your word here and in the greater world. All we have is a gift from you. Inspire us to be generous in the ways we use your gifts to support and prosper the ministry we do here at St. John’s. Open our hearts and minds to the possibilities we have before us to be your people actively sharing your love for the sake of the world. Give each of us a sense of commitment to the life and ministry of our congregation and fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we feel strengthened by you to give abundantly from what you have given us so that your love is made known through us. We pray all of this in the name of the one who so generously shared your life with us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Architectural Renderings

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Capital Campaign Goal: $300,000

Our initial campaign efforts are a start toward the estimated overall cost of new construction of $1.7 million. In considering a new building we compared new construction costs versus repairing and renovating our current facilities.

Cost: New construction likely cost $1million less than reparing and renovating our existing facilities.

Efficiency: New facility will be substantially more energy efficient.

Usage: New building will lend itself to modern ministry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coronavirus/Capital Campaign

We are continuing with our Capital Campaign plans. The coronavirus pandemic has made our timeline tentative. We plan on soliciting funds in the spring of 2021.

All funds collected for our Capital Campaign will be used when we do move forward. Planning for our future is essential more than ever as we feed our faith and not our fears. Given the enormity of the impact in the economy no one knows what the future holds, but we all hope and pray for the best.

Capital Campaign Q&A

Why are we looking to build a new church facility? Can’t we just fix the old one?
One thing we all can agree on is that our current building is on a trajectory of maintenance needs that soon it will become unusable without major action. Many of us have struggled with this set of questions for quite a long time. While the answer to this question is complex, there are a core set of reasons as to why we have moved forward toward a new building. The truth is that we have to do something.

  1. Cost. In doing research leading to a decision we tried our best to gather appropriate information. Along the way we called on the expertise of Nathan Fry who spent hours at our facility taking pictures and measurements and examining our structure and layout. Putting his information together he presented his findings to us. At the time of his presentation his estimate was that if we chose to fix the existing structure, make the building accessible and bring it up to code, as required by law, those repairs would cost, at that time, in the neighborhood of 2.4 million dollars. His estimate to build a new facility, including demolition of the existing structure, would cost approximately 1.7 million dollars. The estimate for repairs to the existing structure did not include any work we would need to do to the outside of the building (including replacing a nearly 100 year old roof), while the estimate for the new building didn’t include all of the costs associated with finalizing the building such as moving the stained glass window and the organ.
  2. Accessibility. In order to make our current structure accessible we would have to install an elevator and build new bathrooms on both the downstairs and sanctuary levels. This would involve a new entrance area for the elevator and using current space such as the meeting room/kitchen and the archives room for new bathrooms. A new building would be totally accessible.
  3. Efficiency. Our current furnace is 30+ years old and is very inefficient, as is our entire heating system. Currently it costs us as much as $18,000 per year just to heat our current building, which has poor heat retainment and is not zoned. A new building would be energy efficient, completely zoned, well-insulated and include cooling in the summer. Estimates are that a new building would cost approximately $4,000 per year to heat and cool the entire facility. By using new technology in lighting and electrical use we also could cut down the cost of utilities.
  4. Usage. Our current building, as beautiful as it is, does not lend itself well to modern ministry practices. Our office is small and cramped and our downstairs, even with an elevator, is difficult to access. This impacts the use of the building both for our own ministry and for using our building for community needs. We are limited in technological capabilities and, while we can modernize here, it would be more expensive to do so. A new building would be more flexible, easier to navigate and designed to meet current and future ministry needs.

What is the cost of a new building? Can we afford this cost?
Unfortunately, the cost will be high whether we build a new building or repair our current facility. The only thing we cannot do is nothing. Over the past 20 years we have spent almost 204,000 dollars in repairs and still have a building that is deteriorating. We cannot continue to do scattered, situational repairs and hope that this building will meet our needs in the future. We will need to spend a good deal of money to provide our congregation with the future it deserves. This capital funds campaign will go a long way in determining what we are able to do, and the Building Committee is working on construction and financing ideas that could give us options for extending the total project so that construction steps and completion can be determined by available finances. Much of this will be determined by our response to the capital campaign and a realistic projection of what we believe we can raise.

Will we be able to use things like windows and pews from this building in a new building?
Yes. At present we have interviewed extensively a stained-glass expert who has shared with us what it would take to frame and move our stained-glass window from above the altar to the new church, as well as the circular icons in many of the other windows. A committee has begun meeting to research what it would take to move our pipe organ into the new facility. Plans also are being discussed to move the pews and other furnishings as well.

What is the goal of the capital campaign?
This question will be answered in a clearer way once we begin asking for pledges for the new building. It is our estimate now that we can raise about $300,000 in a three-year campaign. That much or more certainly is possible based on the experience the capital campaign firm we’ve hired to help us in this effort, Kirby Smith, but the final amount depends upon the generosity of our members.