Dear Partners in Ministry,

At a special meeting on August 27th the Congregation Council voted unanimously to consider expansion of our Worship Center (sanctuary) and Lobby (narthex) and to present a proposal to the congregation for input and discussion. Late last year Council, staff and the congregation engaged in discussions regarding needed repairs and renovations to the sanctuary and narthex. Subsequently, Council engaged the services of Gene Musser from Kirby-Smith Associates to conduct a feasibility study to determine both our capital needs and giving potential. Gene spoke with various members of the congregation in December to determine interest in a capital appeal to fund the repairs and renovations to the sanctuary as well as the new air conditioning system. Gene also asked about possible expansion of our worship space.

Since those initial discussions 4 significant issues have impacted our thinking and potential plans:

  1. The Congregation approved the purchase and installation of a new HVAC system in both the Worship Center and the Lobby.
  2. It has become evident that the foundational crack in the Nursery School classroom is not as severe as originally thought. The cost of repair will be considerably less than projected, saving considerable dollars.
  3. We think it prudent to explore moving the preschool to the lower level where it would be self-contained and security issues could be better addressed. That would open the main floor for more use during the day. It would also mean that the restrooms on the main floor could be economically renovated and not moved.
  4. As we focused on and further discussed the needed repairs in the sanctuary (painting, technology, carpet, seating space) and lobby space, and in consideration of issues 1 and 2; Council arrived at the conclusion that now is the time to address our sanctuary.

The vision statement below, entitled Spirit Led-Spirit Alive outlines our thoughts. It was developed with consideration for questions that kept recurring during Council discussions.

  • Does our current sanctuary reflect who we are and who we want to be?
  • How best do we position our congregation to be the church of the future?
  • Through the years Holy Spirit has been a Spirit-Filled, Spirit-Led congregation of welcome, energy, generosity, growth and service. What does that look like for our future?

We believe the Council’s action in developing the vision statement and opening discussions is a resounding “Yes!” to the future. We want to reposition ourselves and our worship and lobby space differently. We have sought various opinions and will be presenting ideas to re-imagine our space at Holy Spirit. Over the next few months, we hope to have various meetings, coffees, and talks to discuss our ideas and seek overall congregational input and potential support.

We are very excited at the faith, the commitment and the generous stewardship of our congregation, and in particular, our leaders as they prayerfully address this critical issue and plan our future. We welcome your input and look forward to your participation in our discussions over the upcoming months. Please join us in prayerful discernment.

In Christ,

Lorie Stout Sherman

Pastor Ric Elliott
Senior Pastor

Spirit Led — Spirit Alive

“Behold I make all things new!” — Rev. 21:5

The Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit is a dynamic, generous and loving Christian community dedicated to Christ-centered worship, faith formation, and community service. We share a high-quality worship life and value excellent and relevant biblical preaching, God-praising music and liturgy. We are a congregation alive in the Spirit, believing that the Holy Spirit empowers us to serve our community and the world through our ministry in daily life. This is our history; it is our present, and we have faith that it will be our future.

It is in our gathering and worship that we are renewed in the Spirit; reinvigorated and recharged for ministry. Like us, our gathering and worship space needs renewal and refreshing. It has been lovingly used and has served us well for 40 years. Now, however, our Worship Center is in need of updating, renewal and re-visioning in order to accommodate our congregation, provide a more welcoming environment and better serve future generations who will worship here.

At the February 2018 Annual Congregational Meeting, approval was given for the installation of a new HVAC system for the Worship Center/Narthex. A financial appeal was also approved in order to fund the work. Since that time, a leadership committee with the input and support of Congregation Council, has developed a proposal for renewal, renovation and possible expansion of our Worship Center/Narthex. The proposal, that includes an option for physical expansion of the sanctuary supporting additional seating and, also addresses:

  • Creation of a more open Narthex - removing the alcove and installing glass walls
  • Installation of new carpet and chairs in the expanded Worship Center
  • Creation of a new altar and altar platform
  • Installation of new, up to code, energy efficient entrance doors in the Narthex
  • Addressing the lighting, sound and technology needs in the Worship Center
  • Installation of new carpet in the narthex
  • Repainting of the Worship Center/Narthex
  • Renovation of the bathrooms located at the canopy entrance

The estimated costs for the proposed renewal, expansion and renovation of the Worship Center/Narthex, including the new HVAC are $2.4 million. If approved by the congregation, the costs would be addressed by an expanded capital appeal.

As has been our practice, we will seek congregational input and approval before moving ahead and will provide updates as plans progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was the Worship Center/Sanctuary and Lobby/Narthex built? Has it ever been renovated?

Our current Worship Center and Lobby were built in 1980. Other than paint, roof and window repairs the space has not be renovated.

What’s wrong with our current Worship Center?

After consulting with the ELCA building consultant, we confirmed that we have out grown our current Worship Center and maxed out our Sunday morning schedule. In addition, our current chairs are smaller than today’s standard width and the space between rows of seats is cramped. Also, as our music program has expanded we need additional space at some worship services.

What’s wrong with our current Lobby?

Again, after consulting with the ELCA building consultant, we confirmed that our Lobby space is too small; often being very crowded before and between worship services. The solid back wall of the Worship Center does not create a welcoming entrance nor a worship enhancing view of our worship space. Despite recent attempts to clear and open our Lobby area we often find our Lobby space cramped. The current Lobby does not provide appropriate space for additional seating if needed.

How many seats are currently in the Worship Center? How many seats would be in the renovated space?

With the recent altar move, our current Worship Center holds 327 chairs (which are 18 inches wide) with 32 inches between rows of seats. Currently worshippers often sit with three people using five seats, resulting in being at capacity with about 230 congregants in the space.

The expanded space would hold up to 388 chairs (which would be 22 inches wide) with 36 inches between rows of seats. This provides much more comfortable seating for over 300 congregants. Another comparison is that the new space will provide 45% greater seating area than our current space (based on 327 18” chairs compared to 388 22” chairs) – a more comfortable, open and welcoming space.

Why not just reupholster the existing chairs?

We looked at this option. There is no cost savings in reupholstering the existing chairs. We would still be using narrow chairs (by today’s standards) and not adding to seating capacity. Also, we could not add additional chairs as they are no longer manufactured.

What is wrong with the current altar and platform?

Our current platform and altar are showing their age. The altar surface and platform is cracked and uneven and bulky to move. The cracked and uneven surfaces also raise safety concerns.

Would the renovated Worship Center mean new lighting, sound and technology?

Yes, much of our lighting, sound and technology equipment is dated and would be replaced to better support our worship and music programs.

What would be the benefit of removing the back wall of the Worship Center and creating a center entrance?

It would create a more welcoming, open, hospitable entrance with a center aisle. It would also make the Worship Center a more attractive space and a better option for weddings and would create more maneuverable space for funerals.

Would the new Lobby doors be more energy efficient?

Yes, the plan calls for installing a more energy efficient doorway foyer and a more clearly identified worship space entrance. All doors would be up to code.

Would the renewed Worship Center be more flexible than the existing space?

Yes, our current space was designed to be flexible, but the fragile and cumbersome nature of our platform and altar has made flexibility less possible. We hope to continue the use of flexible seating and worship fixtures to enhance creative and a renewed worship life.

Would we still renovate both the existing upstairs and lower level restrooms?

The plans call for renovation of both the portico entrance restrooms and the lower level restrooms. All four restrooms would be renovated to be single user and handicap accessible.

Would the church entrance be more clearly defined?

Yes, the plan calls for designing a drop off sheltered entrance to the Worship Center and would also transform the portico entrance in to a drop off sheltered entrance. These changes would allow emergency and maintenance vehicles to easily access our church driveway.

Would we gain extra classroom space on the lower level?

Yes, the plan calls for creating two new rooms on the lower level as well as renovating the existing classroom space. Some space would need to be designated as storage and utility space.

Would we gain storage space by completing this renovation?

Yes, the plan calls for some storage space on the lower level and perhaps changing the current coatroom space in the Lobby into storage space.

Could the Nursery School be moved to the lower level?

That idea is under consideration. The lower level would be more easily secured during school hours and would free up upper level rooms for weekday programs. However, room adjustments and lower level entrance changes may be necessary to make that transition possible.

Would our new HVAC system accommodate the expanded Worship Center and Lobby?

The new HVAC system was designed for our current space. Some adjustments will make it possible to cool and heat the air in the expanded space.

Would the change in Worship Center mean that we would change the worship schedule?

A change in worship schedule is not anticipated at this time. The hope is that we can enhance the experience of worshipper at each of our services, including Rejoicing Spirits and special concerts and festival services.

Why not build an even bigger addition?

Cost has been a major consideration of this plan and caution is being taken to not over build worship space in today’s religious culture.

Could the cost of the project be broken down into smaller projects?

It is possible, but the Council believes the work proposed is all needed and is best completed as a unified project. Council also believes it is within the means of the congregation to do so.

What is the timeline for the Building Project and Appeal?

The Project and Capital Appeal will be presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting. The Capital Appeal would begin in the Spring. The contractor has told us construction could take 7-8 months. But the contractor has also told us that filing for permits and approvals could take six months. As a congregation we can continue to use the worship space during construction with the exception of a two to three week period.

Architectural Drawings

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Drawing 4

The Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit
3461 South Cedar Crest Blvd, Emmaus, PA 18049 • 610-967-2220