Members of Concordia Lutheran Church, 4245 Lake Ave., have dreamed for 20 years of creating a large multipurpose building for worship, ministry, school events and more. An anonymous donation has made the dream a reality.
The congregation broke ground in early August on an approximately $2 million project to construct an 18,150-square-foot arena on the north side of the existing church and school, Senior Pastor the Rev. Doug Croucher said. The building is scheduled to be completed and dedicated in mid-May.
"I believe it will revolutionize how we do ministry," Croucher said, noting the addition will be a great resource for reaching out to people in the community.
The congregation's more than 2,000 members have been working to pay down the church's debt and hope to be debt-free by November 2017, he said. The donor, who has been impressed with the progress, approached him to offer a significant portion of the arena project's cost.
Croucher said the man told him, "'The money I have isn't mine. I am just a steward of God's gifts.'"
Church members and the Lutheran Foundation also contributed funds for the project, allowing the congregation to pay for the building in cash, Croucher said.
The arena will be a multipurpose facility that will be used for contemporary worship services that now take place at 9:15 a.m. Sundays in the church, Croucher said. The structure also is designed to accommodate sports, theater plays and speakers' presentations.
In addition, it will include restrooms, locker rooms, concessions, a workshop and storage space. The project, which is being coordinated by general contractor Strebig Construction, also includes renovating adjacent classrooms and corridors and the now completed removal of a bus barn.
The arena will allow the church's elementary school, which serves about 415 students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 8, to offer much better physical education classes than in the current small gym, Croucher said. Because more than one team can practice at the same time, practices also won't have to be scheduled late into the night, so families will have more time together.
A church committee will explore ways the new building can be used for outreach, such as hosting basketball tournaments or other events, Croucher said. The arena will have bleacher seating for about 1,000 people and can accommodate two basketball games being played simultaneously.
Croucher praised the work of the committee coordinating the project's planning and implementation and also the attitude of the school's teachers. Two classes had to move to other spaces because of the construction, he noted.
"Our teachers have been so flexible," he said. "They are saying, you know what, we'll make it work."