Although Zion Lutheran Church in Manning sits across Iowa from the cornfield in “Field of Dreams,” Bob Genzen saw a connection between that beloved baseball movie and his congregation’s fellowship hall.
“If you build it, they will come,” said Genzen, borrowing a line from the film to explain why his church is using LCEF to help build its dream. The congregation is participating in LCEF’s Laborers For Christ (LFC), is in the midst of a capital campaign led by an LCEF consultant, and gives young Sunday school attendees funds to open a Young Investors (Y.I.) Club StewardAccount®.
“We try to put a big emphasis on young people here. We want to make it a place where our children want to come,” Genzen, co-chairman of Zion’s building committee, said of the fellowship hall, part of the church built in the early 1960s.
However, the congregation is remodeling with more than existing members in mind. “It’s not a building just for Lutherans but for our community,” Genzen said, noting that 4-H clubs and many civic groups also meet there.
Laborers: Members of Congregation, Community
Laborers have been working for Zion since June, installing a new vaulted ceiling, replacing the lighting and painting to “freshen up” the fellowship space that gets daily use. The 10,600-sq. ft. project includes remodeling classrooms and offices and adding a new entryway to improve accessibility. Construction is expected to be completed this fall.
Zion turned to LFC knowing that Laborers would “join our congregation while they’re here and become a part of our community,” Genzen said. “They’re not a bunch of construction guys who just show up five days a week.” Likewise, project manager Dan Werner says Laborers appreciate the congregants. “Any time we need anything, they are more than willing to help . . . doing whatever it takes to give us a hand,” Werner said of the church, whose pastor is the Rev. Jonathan Conner, with the Rev. Bob Riggert serving as assistant to the pastor.
Laborers traveled from five states to Manning, a small town big on friendliness. “Everyone treats everyone as family,” said Werner, of Geneseo, Illinois. Werner’s wife, Carolyn, served as a teacher at Zion’s summer vacation Bible school–a program that drew 135 children in a town of 1,500. “It was amazing!” Dan said of the enthusiastic response from Manning and the surrounding area.
Encouraging Young Investors
Along with enhancing ministry space, Zion is strengthening stewardship across all age groups. The congregation is in the midst of a capital stewardship campaign, led by the Rev. Dr. John Sproul, regional vice president and consultant with LCEF’s Capital Funding Services.
“The response has been wonderful,” Genzen said. The congregation is also planting stewardship seeds through LCEF’s Young Investors (Y.I.) Club. When children start Sunday school, Zion offers to pay the $25 minimum to open a Y. I. StewardAccount® and connects the child to fun activities to learn about saving, sharing and spending. “I have five grandchildren in it right now,” Genzen said of his grandkids, ages 3 to 13.
Last year, Zion members remodeled their sanctuary, a project that “greatly enhanced our services, which are wonderful,” Genzen said. This fall, children from the congregation, Zion’s preschool program and from Manning and beyond will no doubt be among those using the newly enhanced fellowship hall. “We’re not remodeling for me, but for our future,” Genzen said.