A new sanctuary has risen along the side of 272nd this winter and for the members and staff at Peace Lutheran it has been a vision years in the making.
“It has been a long process,” said Don Moen, chairman of the building committee. “Initially it started as a huge campus — three buildings. Over the years it has become more realistic, we narrowed it down to one building.”
Discussions and plans for the new building go back more than 13 years — the church held an initial capital fundraising campaign, which became known as Forward in Faith, in 2000. After the campaign the project stalled and there was a change in pastoral leadership almost six years ago.
For Pastor Paul Gossman it was a surprise to find himself leading a congregation that was looking to build.
“I have a background in missions, I didn’t necessarily want to do a building project,” Gossman said. “It’s God’s leading. It wasn’t right then, it is right now. It was an opportune time.”
The need to build continued to be a pressing issue for the congregation as it continued to grow in recent years.
“For so long the church was slowly growing and since the new pastor it has taken off,” said Steve Kummert, church administrator.
As the congregation has grown it has tested the limits of its building — the church offers two services on Sundays, one service on Wednesday, operates a preschool, holds Sunday school classes and also hosts a variety of other events and groups. The congregation currently is home to about 375 people and averages 220 attendees on any given Sunday.
“We’ve been growing and growing and growing,” Kummert said. “The first service has almost doubled since I’ve been in this chair.”
The vision is that by expanding the facilities the church will be able to expand its vision and outreach said Wayne Ingersol, the congregation president.
“We don’t have enough space,”Gossman, said. “We’re cramped and bumping into each other all the time. My task was to help the congregation listen to God.”
The project began again in earnest three years ago and in May 2011 a second capital campaign, Rising in Faith, began. That campaign raised almost $500,000 in pledges by congregants.
“Within the last three years things have begun to gel,” Ingersol said.
After soliciting bids from several companies, the church hired Signature Custom Homes, a company that specializes in luxury custom homes and has also done light commercial, non-residential projects. The company is owned by Bill and Becky Hines, who also attend Peace Lutheran.
The total cost for the project is expected to be between $1.5 and $1.55 million, and the congregation will complete some of the work like landscaping. The church used some of the money from the original capital campaign to pay off the mortgage on the original building so it would be debt free going into the new building project. The church has taken out a 20 year loan to cover some of the cost and is currently between $100,000 and $130,000 short of being able to finish everything, Moen estimated.
“It (deciding to build) was a prayerful discerning process and being mindful of the economic realities,” Gossman said. “A combo of being led by God and doing the smart thing.”
After a congregational vote where more than 90 percent voted for the project, the church broke ground in January of 2012.
The project has suffered one major delay so far, almost immediately after breaking ground. A fire hydrant needed to be relocated and the church had to work with the water district.
“It wasn’t as easy as it sounds,” Moen said. “That probably delayed us three to four months.”
Church leaders hope that construction will be finished by mid June and that they will be able to move into the building by July.
The new building will include classrooms, office space and a cafe in addition to the new sanctuary which will seat 365. There is also a vision to be able to continue to grow within the new building. When it is completed this summer there will be an unfinished balcony on the second floor, as well as a couple of unfinished classrooms which will be completed in the future. When finished, the balcony will offer an additional 80 seats. The original building is a total of 7,800 square feet. The new building will more than double the amount of space available. The ground floor will be 11,000 square feet and the future completion of the balcony will offer an additional 3,000 square feet.
“There are congregants who have dirt under their fingernails from this project,” Ingersol said.
The church will continue to also utilize the original building. Church leaders plan to expand youth and family-focused ministries and also hope to grow the size of the preschool.
“We’re bucking a trend but there is also a greater need,” Ingersol said. “We read every day about what a harsh world it is out there and there is peace to be found here.”
The congregation has gathered to worship for 30 years, and 25 of those have been at the site which fronts 272nd Street.
“Doing a building can cause division in a congregation,” Gossman said. “It hasn’t here. It has built solidarity. It has really called us to prayer.”