Even when city officials rejected the request from Mount Hope Lutheran Church and Child Development Center to expand, the Bloomington, Minnesota, congregation continued to pursue building their first “real” sanctuary.
“Baby boomers and [people who are] older want a dedicated sanctuary, and that’s the demographic of unchurched people we have the opportunity to reach,” said the Rev. Daniel Ritter, pastor of this congregation that sits within a one-mile radius of some 600 unchurched families, according to an LCEF demographics study.
Today, Mount Hope is looking forward to inviting those families to their new 9,000 square-foot sanctuary addition this spring–a big step made possible with LCEF services that also included architectural advisory support, a construction loan, participation in Laborers For Christ and a capital campaign appropriately called “Faith Moving Forward.”
Building for the Future
Faced with the challenge of expanding outreach without expanding square footage, Mount Hope conferred with LCEF Minnesota South District Vice President Kurt Fuhr.
“He’s always very supportive and encouraging,” Ritter said of Fuhr, who put the congregation in touch with Steve Krause, a professional architect and member of LCEF’s Architectural Advisory Committee.
After visiting the church in the project’s early stages, Krause made suggestions that helped get the ball rolling toward building a new sanctuary and remodeling the church’s Child Development Center–both without adding additional square footage beyond the original building footprint.
The two-phase project began with the demolition of the original early childhood classrooms (built in the 1950s) and transforming space once used by the church’s former school into the now updated and expanded Child Development Center.
This spring, Laborers, working for the congregation, kicked off the project’s second phase, including the addition of the new sanctuary, a youth room and offices.
The addition’s crowning feature is a soaring 50-foot tower that will prominently display a cross. Laborers used a crane to install the tower’s 5,500-pound front wall.
“It was a challenge, but it’s going to look so majestic,” said Laborer Paul Schmid, who serves as project manager–and, after spending the summer and into the fall in Bloomington, says he feels like a Mount Hope member.
Laborers welcomed the opportunity to work for a congregation that’s expanding ministry to children. “That’s the future,” Schmid said of little ones at the Child Development Center who greeted him by name on his way to work. “If a congregation doesn’t move forward, it falls back. We’re building for the future!”
Before Mount Hope could build, the congregation needed to raise funds.
They turned to Capital Funding Services (CFS) and appreciated how their CFS consultant guided their campaign from a biblical– not a financial–perspective.
“What’s driving us isn’t about money but about faith–about growing God’s Kingdom,” Ritter said. More than two years into the three-year “Faith Moving Forward” campaign, Mount Hope has received commitments beyond their goal. “That’s the work of the Holy Spirit working on our hearts,” Ritter said.
Laborers’ “can-do” spirit also proved inspiring, the pastor said. “Their positive attitude permeated our whole congregation. It was so refreshing and wonderful,” Ritter said of the Laborers’ team, which included seven Laborers from six states.
Likewise, Schmid praised the many faithful volunteers who worked alongside Laborers. “They are phenomenal!” he said of congregants who provided their own inspiring support on the construction site and beyond.
As their work for the congregation neared completion in October, Laborers “buttoned up” the sanctuary addition for the winter. Congregants and subcontractors will finish the interior, with the goal of celebrating Easter in the new sanctuary.
“LCEF and Laborers For Christ have been such a blessing to us,” said Ritter, whose congregation, in turn, prays that their new sanctuary and remodeled Child Development Center will be a blessing to others.