Almost five years after it was first proposed, the expansion project at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church has come full circle, with the mortgage paid off in full.
Church members celebrated the completion of the project on Sunday, Nov. 2, burning the mortgage in a short ceremony following the morning service.
While the congregation watched from the foyer, several leaders — including Pastor Karl Faltin, council chair Dennis Beckland, council member Nancy Aspenes and fundraising committee chair Don Tash — gathered in the entrance to burn the mortgage.
The ceremony included the singing of several hymns, liturgy and prayers, and a Scripture reading from Ephesians 1.
The expansion project — the final cost of which was estimated at around $600,000 — involved extending the west end of the building, adding space to both the church’s entrance and its fellowship wing.
The original church building was constructed between 1964 and 1966, but nearly a half-century later, it was in need of some improvements and repairs.
The roof of the fellowship wing was leaking, the carpeting and windows needed replacement, and the church itself simply needed more space.
“Before, we were pinched . . . we were really cramped,” said Tash. Tash recalled telling the congregation that an expansion project would be a chance to leave a legacy to future generations, just as their predecessors had done in building the original church in the 1960s.
A motion was approved at a congregational meeting in early 2010 to begin fundraising with a target of $450,000, and with the guideline that construction would not start until 75 per cent of the target was pledged or collected.
Beckland recalled that the fundraising began slowly, with a bake sale that brought in a few hundred dollars and a gospel concert that barely broke even.
“We had to sell the idea,” recalled Tash, likening his role to that of a cheerleader who stood back and encouraged others in their tasks.
The church consulted a professional fundraiser for guidance, and kicked off a pledge campaign under the name “Our Journey Forward,” starting with a banquet evening.
Encouraging members to support the project with regular giving proved highly successful, and within six months, Tash said, $447,000 had been pledged.
“There was never any strong-arm tactics or anything like that,” he said. “I’ve always thought that if you’re going to run the race, you go for the gold.”
Construction began in the summer and was finished by the spring of 2011, overseen by supervisor Kevin Stewart and contractor Ace Waugh.
A dedication service was held in June 2011. Although the cost of the expansion was higher than anticipated, the mortgage was paid off in June of this year.
The expansion provided room for new offices, nursery facilities and expanded washrooms in the narthex, while also allowing the addition of a prayer room and Sunday School room in the fellowship wing. In addition to its use for church functions, many outside groups use the fellowship hall, Faltin said.
The hall is often rented for showers and anniversary parties, and is used by several community groups.
Tash said the expansion has greatly improved the church’s appearance and function, and provided the congregation with much more useable space.
“I just can’t say enough about the people that stepped forward to help out here,” he said, adding that a team of members prayed regularly for the project.