July Project Status

Past

Here’s a recap of what has been happening since the last update was published on March 14th.

April & May: Commitment Weekend
On the Sundays after Easter we celebrated the ministry God has given us here at St. Paul. God connects us with Christ Jesus, our Savior, through his Word and Sacraments. He connects us to each other as brothers and sisters in his family. He connects with our community and gives us opportunities to connect to the world around us with the gospel.

The first Sunday in May was our Commitment Weekend. God’s people here at St. Paul generously responded with over $4 million in commitments. Commitments continued to be made in the following weeks, so that as of July 22, 2018 a total of $4,177,080 has been committed by 148 of our families.

May & June: Building Committee & Finance Committee Meetings

Once we knew the total commitments, our Building Committee and Finance Committee got back to work, wrestling with the tough questions about what to recommend to our congregation as we keep moving forward together. Some of those tough questions included: Do we have the resources to build (and build well) both a sanctuary and an early learning center? If not, what should we prioritize at this time? What size mortgage can we realistically support in the future? Even if we are unable to build everything we would like at this time, what can we do to support and continue all the different aspects of our ministry here?

Hours of discussion helped crystalize answers to those questions, and by the beginning of July, the Building Committee and Finance Committee were ready to bring a proposal back to our church council and to our congregation for discussion.

July: Open Forums

Open forums were held on July 8th and 9th. Building Committee chairman Mike Shiels shared an update on the Building Committee’s work, including the fact that the Building Committee was planning to recommend moving ahead with the construction of a new sanctuary. He fielded questions at each forum. A short survey was sent out via email, to which 14 members responded with questions and input.

Building Committee Recommendation

Following the open forums, our Building Committee published its official recommendation. That recommendation is printed in its entirety at the end of this update. It includes the reasons why the building committee and our church council recommended that the sanctuary be the focus of construction at this time. It also lists the resolutions that would be included in a “Yes” vote from our voters.

Voters’ Meeting July 22nd

A voters’ meeting was held on Sunday, July 22nd following the late morning service. After about an hour of discussion, ballots were distributed and cast. 53 of our voting members were present. The vote was 47 “Yes,” 5 “No,” with 1 abstaining.

Present

In the immediate future, our Building Committee and Finance Committee will follow up with the work approved by our voters (cf. the recommendation printed below). The main tasks are for our Building Committee to re-engage with the architects from Excel, and for our Finance Committee to negotiate the terms of our construction loan.

There are things you can be doing, too! Pray for our congregation and for those in the middle of the planning. This is going to be an exciting and busy year for us as we get to build a place where generations to come will get to know and worship their Savior. If you haven’t already, we’d love to have you make a commitment with us to support this project. Extra commitment cards are available by the display in the gathering area. Or, fill out the online commitment form on our website. 

Future

The following longer-term timeline was introduced at the voters’ meeting on July 22nd. All of these dates are tentative at this point, representing the pace at which we would like to move if God so allows:

July 2018                   We begin working again with the architects at Excel

Oct/Nov 2018           We finalize the design

Dec/Jan 2018            We start bidding out the work.

Feb/March 2019       Our voters’ give final approval on definite plans and definite costs

March/April 2019      We begin construction.

 

FAQs

Check the previous project updates for other FAQs:

What are the current plans for the sanctuary?

Our work with the architects was put on hold last fall after the renderings were completed. Since then, our capital campaign has helped determine the size of our project, and our congregation has voted on the scope. That gives us the direction we need to begin working with the architect again on a detailed set of drawings that, God-willing, will take us through construction.

As our Building Committee begins working again with the architects, they’ll have two main things in hand: 1) the renderings presented last September, and 2) a list of the changes, comments, and ideas compiled from our members’ comments and the Building Committee meetings. Last September the estimated cost of the sanctuary addition as drawn in the renderings was $6-6.5 million. In order to move the project to the target of $5 million, we will need to cut some of the square footage. Here are the three areas that are the most likely:

  1. We could leave the future fellowship hall (the room in which we currently worship) the same size as it is right now, rather than extending it. We might then also leave out the extra office space currently drawn along the fellowship hall extension.
  2. We could reduce the square footage of the gathering area.
  3. We could reduce the square footage of the sanctuary.

In addition, there have been many concerns about parking—regarding both the number of spots and their proximity to the sanctuary. Those and other concerns will need to be addressed. If you have suggestions, share them with Mike Shiels, our Building Committee chairman. His contact info in on the first page of this update. At this point it seems safe to say that the final building will not be the same as the renderings last fall, but will likely have many aspects that are similar.

How do we end up with a $3-3.5 million mortgage after construction?

Here’s a summary of what was presented at the voters’ meeting on July 22nd. These numbers are rounded to the nearest million for the sake of simplicity:

                  $2 million is our current mortgage

     plus      $5 million for the projected cost of our new sanctuary

equals      $7 million is the amount we need

  minus      $4 million expected in commitments made by our members

    total      $3 million is the approximate goal for our new mortgage after construction

On July 22nd our voters’ approved a final mortgage of up to $3.5 million. That extra $0.5 million recognizes that we will need to keep servicing our mortgage during construction and that we will likely need to set aside contingency funds to react to unforeseen issues that arise. In the best case scenario, our final mortgage will be closer to $3 million, but we need to allow for other possible scenarios as well.

If we don’t completely pay off our current mortgage by March 2019, will that slow down the construction timeline?

The more we can pay down our current mortgage, the better our financial position to begin construction will be. If there is a balance remaining on our current mortgage when we are ready to break ground, we will likely use part of the construction loan to make the final payment. We would need to make sure in that case that our combined gifts and the construction loan would complete the building.

What if I want to revisit the commitment I made?

We know that a number details were still undecided at the beginning of May when we held our Commitment Weekend. Most significantly, we have decided to go ahead with planning a new sanctuary.

If at this time you want to revisit your commitment to “125 Years of Connecting” or if you’d like to make a new commitment, please contact Gerry Heckmann as soon as you are able. His contact info is on the first page of this update. Or, drop a new/revised commitment card in the church-shaped box by the display in the gathering area at St. Paul. The further we move along, the more we need firm figures about the resources we can expect to have as we all work together here at St. Paul.

Appendix

Building Committee Recommendation

Sent out via email to our members on Friday, July 20, 2018.
Approved at our voters’ meeting on Sunday, July 22, 2018.

Dear Members of St. Paul and Coworkers in the Kingdom of Our God,

Please find below the recommendation that the Church Council will present to the congregation at the special voters meeting this Sunday, July 22nd at 11:15am  This is the recommendation that Building Committee presented to the Church Council last week and was adopted by the Church Council.  It contains a plan on how to proceed with our building program at this time and a financial plan to accomplish it.  Prayerfully read it over and come to the meeting so that we can make a decision together for the future of our gospel work.

Background:

Last year the congregation gave the Building Committee permission to engage Excel Engineering to provide renderings for a master site plan for the space needs identified by our members for our growing ministries in worship and in early childhood. Estimates of the cost of the master site plan that Excel provided was around $10-12 million not counting the current mortgage of $2 million.

We set a goal of $5 million for our capital campaign hoping that we could build both a sanctuary and enlarge the early learning center at the same time. The initial response of the Capital Campaign was $4.2 million in cash and in-kind gifts.

At the time of the capital campaign we had not made any decision regarding what part of the new master site plan we would build first if we did not reach the goal we had set and we made no decision about when to end the Bountiful Blessings offering which is paying off our current mortgage and when to transition to giving for the new building program.

Since the commitment Sunday on May 6th the Building Committee, which includes a financial subcommittee, has been wrestling with how best to go forward in addressing both our worship and early childhood needs. Based on those discussions, the Building Committee believes that it is best to go forward at this time with building a sanctuary and, as soon as funds become available, to continue with building the early learning center. Some of the reasons for the decision are as follows:

Lending institutions were contacted and a financial plan was put in place which would enable us to address worship needs with a new sanctuary, a chapel, a larger gathering area, and a fellowship hall leaving us with a mortgage of somewhere between $3-3.5 million. (Recall that our current mortgage was originally $3.5). This financial plan takes in to account an in-kind gift that would enable us to cut the cost of the sanctuary by about $1 million.

Building a new sanctuary first would open up a number of activity and storage spaces which would help the growing early childhood ministry at this time.

Although the market analysis indicated that the early childhood ministry could help fund the building program, the start-up costs and the three-year window that it would take for the program to become self-funding would delay the building of a new sanctuary for a long time and increase our budget substantially.

Although the Building Committee believes that this is the most prudent way to proceed, it is the hope and prayer of the Building Committee that, should we receive another $1.5 million in commitments now, we could begin a phase-in plan for the early learning center as soon as possible.

Recommendation:

Based on this information, the Building Committee and the Church Council recommend to the voters the following:

1.    That St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church contract with Excel for architectural and engineering design services for a $5 million sanctuary, chapel, gathering area, and fellowship area. Fees not to exceed $300,000.

2.   That St. Paul approve the use of the in-kind gift of $750,000 for construction management.

3.   That we accept the financial plan adopted by the Building Committee which includes the following:

a.   That with upfront gifts we try, with God’s help, to pay down as much as possible the current mortgage of $2 million by March of 2019.

b.   That we give approval to begin negotiating as soon as possible the terms of the construction loan not to exceed indebtedness of $5 million.

c.   That after construction we approve a mortgage of no more than $3.5 million.

4.   That we officially begin the “125 Years of Connecting” building fund on August 1, 2018.

5.   That we encourage members who have not yet made a commitment to do so now.

6.   That, since we now have a direction regarding what we will be building, members who have already made a commitment inform Gerry Heckmann regarding any changes they would like to make to their commitment.

March Project Status

Past

Here’s a recap of what has been happening since the last update was published on February 14th.

Sunday Mornings in Lent

Our worship beginning on February 11th used the church season of Transfiguration and Lent to talk about generosity—God’s generosity to us in Jesus, and the way we reflect that generosity in every aspect of our lives. Those themes also spilled over into our Sunday morning adult Bible study discussions. The Bible study series focused on things Jesus said about generosity in his parables in the gospel of Luke.

Leadership Commitment Weekend

The weekend of Sunday, February 25th was Leadership Commitment Weekend. Just as David did in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 28-29), we asked our leaders to step up to lead and inspire all of us in supporting God’s work here at St. Paul.

The result? A strong start, both toward meeting our goal of 5 million dollars, and toward our goal of having our whole congregation come together in support of our ministry. As of writing this update, 100% of our pastors and teachers have made a commitment as well as many of our elected leaders. More commitments continue to come in from our leaders week after week. We thank God both for the gift of resources he’s given us as a congregation, and for the gift of people who give themselves to God’s work in this place at this time. We aren’t finished yet. It’s time now to expand this effort to every member of St. Paul.

Present

Congregational Phase Launch on Palm Sunday

We know that many of you have been waiting patiently the last couple of months, and the time is almost here. On the weekend of Palm Sunday, March 25th, we plan to distribute packets of information to every family in our congregation. Inside, you’ll find a summary of what the project is and why we’re doing it along with a commitment card for your family. On the three Sundays after Easter, we’ll build on this as we talk about the ministry God has given us here at St. Paul. Read more about that in the “Future” section below.

Building Project Open Forum

Our Building Committee will be holding an open forum on Sunday, March 25th from 9:15-10:15am. It has been a number of months since our last open forum in October. The Building Committee will share a summary of what has been discussed at its meetings since then and will field questions and comments you have about the current design for our expansion.

Insert series: The Gift from Greece

Over the last few weeks, you probably noticed a series of blue inserts in the worship folders. They’re based on two chapters from Paul’s second letter to the Christians in Corinth. Those Christians had decided to send a gift from Greece to help the struggling Christians in Jerusalem. Paul wrote to them to encourage them in that plan and to teach them how and why Christians give. Is it possible to read those two chapters quickly all at once? Sure it is. It would probably take you less than 5 minutes, and it would be great if you would do just that. But there’s so much there to think about in our own generosity that we’re breaking those chapters into twelve inserts that will be included in the worship folders each week through our Commitment Weekend on May 6th. We hope you find them helpful as each of us grows in our faith by pondering God’s Word.

Trifold Brochure: Suggestions for Giving to a Capital Campaign

As you start to think through your own commitment, this brochure has some helpful tips about how to actually make your intention a reality. Pick up a copy on the table by the renderings or look for it in your packet of information on Palm Sunday.

Future

April              

Easter is April 1st. Christ is risen!

The three Sundays after Easter (4/8, 4/15, and 4/22), we’ll focus on our ministry. At St. Paul we are connecting people … to Christ … to each other … and to our community.  Here’s what you can expect:

 




DATE

SERMON

BIBLE STUDY

THEME

Easter 1

April 7-9

John 20:19-31

John 15

Connecting to Christ

Easter 2

April
14-16

Luke 24:36-49

Ephesians 4

Connecting to Each Other

Easter 3

April 21-23

John 10:11-18

1 Corinthians 9

Connecting to Our Community

 

Confirmation Sunday is April 29th.

May                

The weekend of Sunday, May 6th will be our Congregation Commitment Weekend. God has generously blessed each of us in different ways. We hope that already now you’re thinking and praying about how God can use you to extend our gospel ministry to the future.

FAQs

Check the previous project updates for other FAQs:

December    

When is groundbreaking going to be?
Do the renderings show what has been approved for construction?

January         

May 6th seems a long way off. Why the wait?
Are we really going to be able to complete the whole project?

February       

What’s the goal?
What is the commitment process like?
Why can’t I find everything on the main website menu?

What about our current mortgage?

In 2004 we built our current facility at a cost of $5.3 million, including a $3.5 million mortgage with Thrivent Financial. Over the last 14 years, we’ve never missed a mortgage payment and have been able to pay down our principal balance to $2,137,569.24 as of January 31, 2018. It would be a wonderful blessing if we could expand our facility and pay off our mortgage all at the same time. Realistically, however, it looks like we will continue having a mortgage.

Our Finance Committee has been looking into options about what would happen with our current mortgage, and has been in contact with several banks about what our future mortgage could be. While no decisions have been made at this point, it seems likely that we would roll our current mortgage into a new mortgage and that lenders would be willing to give us a loan in the ballpark of the $3.5 million mortgage we have currently been maintaining. Our goal is to balance expanding our ministry with avoiding an excessive burden. If you have ideas, would like more information, or have a special interest in seeing us pay down our mortgage, talk to one of the members of our Finance Committee: Jim Buelow, Scott Filter, Dan Schmidt, or Mike Shiels.

February Project Status

Past

Here’s a recap of what has been happening since the last update was published on January 26th.

Three Brunches       

Over the three Saturdays (1/20, 1/27, and 2/3), 222 adults were able to come to our congregational brunches. Adding in all the others who helped make those brunches possible, close to 300 people were here as we talked about generosity and about the ministry we share here at St. Paul.

Thank you to everyone who came, and thank you to everyone who helped make those brunches a reality!

A summary of those brunches is posted on our website, including a letter from Pastor McKenney, videos in which Liz Kogler and Ron & Susie Schroedl share their stories, a copy of all the brainstorming Post-it notes, and a digital copy of the reflection guide. Click here to read more. 

Present

Sunday Mornings in Lent

Our worship beginning on February 11th will use the church season of Transfiguration and Lent to talk about generosity—God’s generosity to us in Jesus, and the way we reflect that generosity in every aspect of our lives. We also want those themes to spill over into our Sunday morning adult Bible study discussions. The Bible study series will focus on things Jesus said about generosity in his parables in the gospel of Luke.

Here’s what you can expect in upcoming sermons:

Lent 1 Feb 17-19 Mark 1:12-15 Generosity: God is First
Lent 2 Feb 24-26 Mark 8:31-38 Generosity: Losing Your Life
Lent 3 Mar 3-5 John 2:13-22 Generosity: Requires Housecleaning
Lent 4 Mar 10-12 John 3:14-21 Generosity: Love in Action
Lent 5 Mar 17-19 John 12:20-33 Generosity: Sowing Seeds

 

Future

February        Sunday, February 25th will be Leadership Commitment Sunday. Just as David did in the Old Testament (read 1 Chronicles 28-29), we’re asking our leaders to step up to lead and inspire all of us in supporting God’s work here at St. Paul.

Feb-Mar         Worship and Bible study will focus on generosity.

March             On the weekend of Palm Sunday (March 24-26), look for a full packet of information as we start to gear up for Congregation Commitment Weekend. Maundy Thursday is March 29th. Good Friday is March 30th.

April               Easter is April 1st. Christ is risen! The three Sundays after Easter (4/8, 4/15, and 4/22), we’ll focus on our ministry. At St. Paul we are connecting people … to Christ … to each other … and to our community.  Confirmation Sunday is April 29th.

May                 The weekend of Sunday, May 6th will be our Congregation Commitment Weekend. God has generously blessed each of us in different ways. We hope that already now you’re thinking and praying about how God can use you to extend our gospel ministry to the future.

FAQs

Check the previous project updates for other FAQs:

December     When is groundbreaking going to be?
                        Do the renderings show what has been approved for construction?

January         May 6th seems a long way off for our congregation commitment weekend. Why the wait?
                        Are we really going to be able to complete the whole project?

What’s the goal?

Our goal is to give five million dollars over the next three years in addition to our regular offerings. More than you could give? Of course it is, because this isn’t just you or me. This is about all of us coming together to support and extend the ministry of God’s Word to Lake Mills for the future. It is a big number. But remember that we have a big God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Know, too, that we’re not just picking a number out of the air. That number is based in part on conversations with members who have already said they want to give toward this ministry, and in part on the advice from our consultant from Generis, Larry Ulrich, after he studied our finances and our giving. We’re praying that God will give us resources and willing hearts to reach that goal. 

That financial goal is written first here, since that’s usually what people have in mind when they ask that question. But honestly, there are other goals that are more important than funding a building project. They’re the goals that are part of our whole “connecting” theme … the goal that we would connect ever more deeply to Jesus Christ over the coming months … the goal that we would connect to each other as a congregation … the goal of finding more and more ways to connect with our community.

Because honestly, if we build a building but end up further from Christ, further from each other, and further from our community, what have we gained? That’s why our deeper goal is to engage 100% of the people of St. Paul over the next few months as we grow together around God’s Word.

What is the commitment process like?

Perhaps the whole idea of making a commitment is new to you. We’ve been fielding some questions about what to expect. Here are a few tips. If these don’t quite get at your questions, contact one of the people in the box on the first page of this update.

  • A commitment is a promise. We hope that you take your promise seriously, since the plans we will be making together depend on it. At the same time, only God knows the future, and it could happen that someone needs to change their commitment down the road (either increasing it or decreasing it) because of some major change in life.
  • The commitment period is over three years. It could be that you spread your gifts evenly from 2018-2021, or perhaps you’ll give most up front or most toward the end. Each of our financial situations is different. But a commitment is not saying you have the resources to give it all right away.
  • Keep in mind both the new and the ongoing. Yes, a new building would be new and exciting. But remember that the building isn’t the end goal. It’s a tool to reach people with the gospel. The last thing any of us wants is to have a brand new building but to be unable to expand (or even maintain) our vital ministry that happens in the building. As you plan your commitment, include plans for how you’ll intentionally support our ongoing ministry with your weekly offerings.
  • Don’t just think through what you give; think through why you give. That’s one reason why we’re not scheduling the congregation commitment Sunday for next week. We’re hoping no one gives out of a guilt trip. Even worse would be thinking that your gift earns you something from God. Christian giving is different. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Similarly, we give because he first gave to us. Let’s spend this Lent and Easter marveling again at God’s love to us in Christ. May his love and generosity deepen our own love and generosity!
  • Return a commitment card on the weekend of May 6th. Unless you’re one of our elected leaders, you don’t have that commitment card yet. Those will be coming on the weekend of Palm Sunday (March 25th). You’ll write your commitment on the card and bring it to worship on the weekend of May 6th.

Why can’t I find everything on the main website menu?

One of the main purposes of our website is to connect with people outside our church who are interested in learning more about who we are. With that in mind, the main church menu has a page titled “Expansion Plans” that has the basic information about our project and the renderings. But the details about our plans are on a separate part of our website because they’re meant for our members rather than for our whole community. People who are not members can still get there if they have the link, but it’s not the first thing they’ll find and read.

Whenever you want to see the newest posts, go to:

http://stpaullakemills.org/125connecting

January Project Status

Past

Here’s a recap of what has been happening since the last update was published on December 15th: Many people have been pitching in to help, and it’s been exciting to see everything beginning to take shape!

The Building Committee   
has been meeting regularly to review the renderings that were presented to the congregation last September. They’re considering any large scale design changes that need to be addressed with the architect before round 2 of the renderings. Smaller scale changes will be addressed once we move into more detailed drawings. Input received (such as through the comment cards) is being evaluated and incorporated. If you have ideas or comments, the Building Committee would be happy to hear from you.

The Events Committee
prepared everything for the brunches …. food, venue, decorations, the works. The church isn’t bricks and mortar. It’s people. As we move forward, we want to use this opportunity for some great fellowship time together.
The Communications Team          
has been busy getting ready to get the word out. In addition to this update, you’ll notice a new bulletin board in the church gathering area, videos telling our members’ stories, and a new logo and banner for our project. We’ve also been producing the invitations you’ve received to the brunches and have been tracking the RSVPs. Our goal is to keep you in the loop about everything going on because this project belongs to all of us.

The Finance Committee
has been working to set a goal for our capital campaign. Look for more details on that to be coming out in the next few weeks. They’re also looking ahead at the impact of building and ministry expansion on our annual budget. We’d love to expand our gospel ministry even more to the Lake Mills area, but we also need to have the resources to support it. Say a prayer that God will continue to provide!

Daedalus Research
and our consultant, Patrick Rochford, has been working with our principal, Steve Gartner, and with our early childhood director, Allie Byers, to draft a business plan for an expanded Early Learning Center. Before we make the decision about building the Early Learning Center wing, we need to know how the future program would be structured and how it would be funded. A draft of the business plan was presented by Patrick Rochford to our church council and school board on January 23rd. There are still some details to finalize before the business plan comes to the whole congregation, but we’re optimistic about what we see so far.

Generis
and our consultant, Larry Ulrich, has been has been meeting regularly with our five leaders listed in the box on the first page of this update to guide us in planning our 125 Years of Connecting campaign.

Present

Leadership & Congregational Brunches
are underway. Each brunch is several hours on a Saturday morning to talk about our ministry and our future plans together (and eat some good food, too). The first brunch, which was held on January 20, was for all our called and elected leaders and their spouses to begin that discussion.  The next two Saturdays, January 27th and February 3rd, we want to continue that conversation with as many other families as possible.

What’s coming up in 2018 is going to be pivotal in the ministry God has given us together at St. Paul. The building project is about more than bricks and mortar. God is placing unique challenges and blessings in our path, we need to work together to understand the best way to respond with our planning, ministry, structure and function, and building. If you’re a member and you’re reading this, we’re hoping you’ll be able to come.

Future

February        Our worship beginning on February 11th will use the church season of Transfiguration and Lent to talk about generosity—God’s generosity to us in Jesus, and the way we reflect that generosity in every aspect of our lives. We also want those themes to spill over into our Sunday morning adult Bible study discussions. The series will use short vignettes from Tim Keller (you’ll see another video of him at the brunches) as a springboard into things Jesus said about generosity in the gospel of Luke.

 Sunday, February 25th will be Leadership Commitment Sunday. Just as David did in the Old Testament (read 1 Chronicles 28-29), we’re asking our leaders to step up to lead and inspire all of us in supporting God’s work here at St. Paul.

May                 The weekend of Sunday, May 6th will be our Congregation Commitment Weekend. God has generously blessed each of us in different ways. We hope that already now you’re thinking and praying about how God can use you to extend our gospel ministry to the future.

FAQs

Check the previous project update for other FAQs:

December     When is groundbreaking going to be?
                        Do the renderings show what has been approved for construction?

May 6th seems a long way off for our congregation commitment weekend. Why the wait?

We picked that date because two things take time: growth and unity.

First of all, growth takes time.

We’re praying that God will use this time to cause growth in all of us in ways that are bigger than just this project. Yes, it will take generous gifts for this building project to become a reality. But our lives of generosity are a lot bigger than just this project. Generosity is the way you give of yourself to serve others, and it impacts your family, your work, your church, and your community. Five years from now, we would hope that people would not just say about us, “Those people built a building,” but that “Those people really don’t just know generosity; they live it!”

Growth means spending time together in God’s Word, wrestling with the things he says to us there. Growth means time for God’s Law to challenge our default ways of thinking, exposing the ways our selfish sinful nature is short-sighted and stingy. Growth means time for God’s Gospel to warm our hearts with the sweet news of how God gave himself for us, and to transform us into people who give of ourselves for others. Our pastors are planning ways to point us to God’s Word again and again over the coming months.

You may have already thought through or talked with your spouse about what you plan to give. That’s good. We’re glad those kind of thoughts and discussions are taking place. At the same time, we ask you not to rush it. Making a quick decision is easier because then it’s over and done. Be open to growing over the course of these next few months.

Unity takes time, too.

With about 1600 members at St. Paul, that’s a lot of people. Could we schedule the commitment weekend for a week or two from now? Yes. Some of our members are all ready to get going. But not everyone is. Rather than pushing ahead with some of our members, we want to make every effort to include everyone. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are more engaged than the average member of our church. We need you to help us reach others and build a snowball effect. More time allows more and more of our members to be united together in a common purpose about our gospel ministry and our plans for the future. This project belongs to all of us.

Are we really going to be able to complete the whole project?

That question has been on our minds, and we’re sure it has probably been on yours, too. At this point, God is the only one who knows our future and the answer to that question. Here’s what we can say at this point:

There’s a possibility that we could find a way to accomplish all of it at once (otherwise we wouldn’t have the whole project still on the table). It’s a big goal, but God has given us amazing people and resources here at St. Paul. We don’t want to sell ourselves short about what God could do through us at such a time as this. It’s also possible that we may need to prioritize some parts of the project over others. But there’s no way to know exactly what we can do together until we come together to pledge our gifts. We’ll be working toward that over these next three months. In the meantime, our Finance Committee is looking at the numbers of what we can afford for construction and is also looking at what a realistic budget would be to support our expanded ministry.

In the end there will need to be a decision made about what exactly we will build. That decision will be made by our congregation—not just by a few people or only by our leaders. Keep praying for our church—that God would give us the resources we need to take advantage of the opportunities he’s placing before us, wisdom to know what is best, and love for each other to work together in unity even when the decisions aren’t easy.

December Project Status

As we move ahead with our capital campaign and then, God-willing, head into construction there’s a lot going on at St Paul. In November we formed a new Communication Team to help you stay up to date with all the news. Members of our Communication Team: Christine Carroll, Paul Enger, Melissa Ewoldt, Todd Hackbarth, Terri Happel, Pastor Nass, Laura Schneider, Toni Shiels, Ken Walters, and Connie Wilson.

Part of our plan is to write a monthly status update.  You can expect news about the Past: what we’ve accomplished in the last month; Present: what we’re working on right now; and Future: what you can expect coming up. We’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve been hearing.

We view our communication work as not just getting information out, but also as giving you what you need to join with us in making this project a reality. We have some big goals in front of us, and we hope you’re as excited as we are at the thought of being part of it.

On behalf of the Communication Team,

Pastor Nass
 

Past

Since this is our first status report, here’s a recap of where we’ve already been:

2016: Committees were formed to start looking at plans for a possible expansion. Over 150 members gave input.

April: Our voters approved hiring an engineering firm to draw up initial plans for an early learning center expansion and sanctuary expansion.

May-Aug: Our Building Committee toured a number of churches and worked with the architects to design an initial footprint and conceptual design.

September Renderings were presented to the congregation on September 10th. Comment cards began to be received with reactions from members. Patrick Rochford was engaged as our consultant to research the feasibility of opening a childcare center in Lake Mills.

October An open forum was held October 15th. At the voters’ meeting on October 25, Patrick Rochford presented the findings of his feasibility report, giving us a green light to go ahead. Larry Ulrich from Generis was engaged as our capital campaign consultant.

November Larry Ulrich met with our pastors and leaders several times to develop the upcoming capital campaign. The structure and subcommittees were planned. The Communication Team held initial meetings.

December On December 3-4, four different cross section groups met with Larry Ulrich to give perspectives about our current ministry and about our plans to expand. More volunteers from St Paul were engaged to plan upcoming events and to work with the project finances.

Present

December Patrick Rochford is working with Allie Byers and Steve Gartner to prepare a business plan for St Paul Lutheran Early Learning Center. A finance committee is now meeting to work through the details of what exactly it will take financially to complete our project. Plans are in the works to roll out our capital campaign to the whole congregation at the end of January (Larry Ulrich is helping us plan that). A lot of the work right now is behind the scenes, but you should see much more happening on the surface a few weeks after Christmas. 

Future

January  Mark your calendars for these Saturdays: January 20, January 27, and February 3rd. We’re planning “brunches” those days. Each brunch will be several hours on a Saturday morning to talk about our ministry and our future plans together (and eat some good food, too). The first brunch, on January 20, is going to be for all our called and elected leaders and their spouses to begin that discussion. The next two Saturdays, January 27th and February 3rd, we want to continue that conversation with as many other families as possible.

What’s coming up in 2018 is going to be pivotal in the ministry God has given us together at St. Paul. The building project is about more than bricks and mortar. God is placing unique challenges and blessings in our path, we need to work together to understand the best way to respond with our planning, ministry, structure and function, and building. 

If you’re a member and you’re reading this, we’re hoping you’ll be able to come.

FAQs

When is groundbreaking going to be?

No date has been set yet for groundbreaking. We’re trying to balance two things. On the one side, we’re sensing a lot of positive momentum to keep moving forward, and we want to capitalize on that. On the other side, we want to do careful, thorough work and not rush things. Last fall the idea was floated that perhaps groundbreaking would be as early as March. Currently it looks like the earliest groundbreaking could be summer, though there are still a lot of things that would have to come together for that to happen.

Do the renderings show what has been approved for construction?

No. The renderings are only the first pass at the vision of what the expansion will look like. There are bound to be changes, but we needed a starting point to determine feasibility. It’s also easier to have a conversation as a congregation about what we want the final building to be if there are pictures to talk about.

If you’ve been mulling over an idea or a question, now is the time to bring it up. Fill out a comment card (they’re on the table near the renderings), or talk to one of our pastors or a member of the building committee. So far we’ve fielded more questions about the sanctuary than about the ELC, so we’re expecting it to take more time to refine the plans for the sanctuary side. While all feedback is appreciated and important, please keep in mind that the final building design will be a culmination of many factors and tradeoffs.

What has been approved so far are contracts with Catalyst (project management), Generis (capital campaign), and Excel (architect) for preliminary efforts to help us determine feasibility, cost, and schedule.  We will need further approval from the congregation to draft detailed construction documents and to finally move ahead into construction.