At this year’s congregation meeting we announced that we were blessed with two substantial estate gifts from Anna Tate as well as James and Sue Revier.  Their generosity as they remembered Zion in their estate planning has been a tremendous blessing for this congregation.

Because of the amount of the Tate estate, the congregation’s constitution required approval from the congregation on how to spend the proceeds.  After thoughtful deliberation, the Congregation Council decided to use the Tate Estate gift in the following ways:

10% of the proceeds would be sent as a tithe to the Southwestern Synod, ELCA.
20% of the proceeds would be put into our general reserve account.
70% of the proceeds would be used for campus improvements and deferred campus maintenance.

Staff and council have identified several first step projects with this money.  Here’s a picture of what’s been going on today.

We are blessed with over 100 beautiful, historic oak trees on our church property.  These trees must be maintained every several years with pruning and other maintenance so they can be around for future generations.  This is a costly and time consuming process that we don’t include in our yearly spending plan that was paid through the Tate estate proceeds.

Council and staff are working diligently to spend these gifts wisely, so many of the projects that we will be undertaking will happen over the next several months.  We will keep you updated on how the rest of the proceeds are spent.

It’s Coming!!

It’s an exciting time at Zion with so much exciting stuff happening. All are welcome! (And yes, when we say all, we do mean all!)

September 9 – 8:00 am – Church Grounds Clean Up Day
Our church grounds need some attention before we move back into our renovated sanctuary. Here’s a list of some of the items we have to get done:
-Replace sod damaged by the wild hogs.
-Weed plant beds around the campus.
-Clean up small rocks.
-Shaping mulch beds
-Spreading mulch near the education building

There’s a lot of work to be done and we want to invite people of all ages to help. (In other words, this isn’t just a project for the men of the church! We could really use a big turnout for this!) We’ll start around 8:00 and finish around lunchtime.

September 10 – 9:00 and 11:15 am – Last Sunday in FLC for worship
We will gather one more time in the Family Life Center for worship. These last 19 months have been a grand adventure for our church and we are thankful for the time we’ve spent in there. We will give God thanks for our time in the Family Life Center and will look forward to next Sunday when we return to the renovated sanctuary.

September 10 – 10:15 am – Rally Day
Our educational ministries are starting up! Throughout the summer several people have spent many hours beautifying children’s and youth ministry spaces. Check them out!

September 17 – 9:00 and 11:15 am – Opening Sunday in Church 3.5
Our renovated sanctuary will be open for worship! This weekend will be a bit of a “soft opening” as we return to a renovated sanctuary with improved acoustics, a beautiful new pipe organ, and other improvements to our beloved worship space.

September 24 – 9:00 and 11:15 am – Sanctuary Re-dedication
We welcome Bishop Ray Tiemann of the Southwestern Texas Synod as we have our formal dedication liturgy of the renovated sanctuary.

September 24 – 12:15 pm – BBQ Celebration Lunch
After worship we will gather in the Family Life Center for some good old-fashioned Texas barbecue as we celebrate this part of our journey together. Tickets are $9 for adults and $3 for children ages 2-11.

September 24 – 6:00 pm – San Antonio Sinfonietta Concert
A new musical ensemble called the San Antonio Sinfonietta will have their debut concert at Zion at 6:00. The event is open to the public. Musicians from the San Antonio Symphony, local universities, and other professional groups have formed this group and have chosen to make Zion its home.

August Building Update

We’re getting closer to being finished!

Here’s the latest scoop on what’s happening at Zion with our construction and building projects:

-Julie and Martha have begun moving their office to the new main office!  There are now two entrances to the church offices during the week.  The first is on the 1604 side, east of the sanctuary.  The second entrance is through the gazebo.  In the next few days, the door that has been our main entrance (off the conference room) will be locked.

Leslie Road Office Entrance.


1604 Office Entrance

We’ve got some of our stuff in the new offices, but not all of it.  All the office supplies that were in the old main office have to move down the hall into the new office space, so it’s going to take some time to get things set up in the new space as Julie and Martha move and keep the day-to-day operations running at Zion.

(An aside:  Several people have asked, “what will happen to the old main office?”  Great question!  First, our campus minister, Tia Mathre-Adams, will have a part of the room as her office.  The other part of the room will be used as a space for classes and other meetings.)

-In the sanctuary, work continues.  Our organ builder, John Dill, and his crew worked very hard last week.  There is a large blower motor that provides wind to the pipes so they can “breathe.”  The next step is starting today.  John and his crew are putting a whole lot of pipes up in the organ chambers.  After the pipes have been installed, it will take some time to do some fine tuning.

Across the street, we’re also doing some sprucing up and changes:

-In our education building, Karen Stein is working with several volunteers to spruce up the classrooms.  While our eventual goal is to move all our education classes across the street into our new building, we want to do what we can to make our current classrooms as inviting as possible.  If you’ve not been in the classrooms behind Churches 1 and 2, check it out.

-Later this fall Travis Baker will be working with a group of volunteers to do some work on Church 2.  We are excited to use this space as a youth space and want to do what we can to make it a better space for youth ministry.

-After years of making major repairs and fixes to the modular classrooms next to Church 1, it is time to say goodbye to the modular classrooms.  We have listed them on Craigslist in the hopes that someone could use them.  If you know anyone that could use something like this, let them know.

It’s an exciting time here at Zion.  We give God thanks for your continued support in this adventure!

July 2017 Building Update, Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the new office spaces and the gazebo.  We are close to being able to move into those spaces.  Click this link to see yesterday’s post.

Today I want to talk about our sanctuary.  Some of us are calling the sanctuary Church 3.5 because it’s not a new sanctuary (i.e. a Church 4), but it’s a significant renovation and needs to be marked in some way.  So for right now I’ll call it Church 3.5.

There were two parts to the renovations to Church 3.5.  The first was the renovations and construction in the sanctuary.  This included everything like replacing the lights, installing the fire sprinkler system, changing the carpet, remodeling the sacristy, reconstructing the altar and music areas, and everything else that’s been remodeled and brought up to code.  (This, of course, doesn’t include the surprise we found early in the construction).   That part of the project is almost complete.

The second part is the project is the organ.  We’re working with our organ builder, John Dill, on that portion of the project.  Mr. Dill is usually at Zion Tuesday-Friday with his crew.  The last several weeks he has worked from his house in the DFW area building needed items for the installation.

Installing a pipe organ is a highly specialized skill that takes lots of time and effort.  Each individual pipe (there are several thousand of them in our organ) has to be securely, but delicately, put in the proper place.  That way the correct note and sound comes out of the organ.

The next step is the most meticulous of the process.  An organ must be properly voiced so that the right tone and volume comes out of the organ.  Each individual pipe has to be properly voiced so that all the notes can come together in a beautiful sound.

So – we’re in the homestretch, brothers and sisters!  Let’s give God thanks for this adventure and pray that our transition out of the FLC later this summer into Church 3.5 is a smooth one!




July 2017 Building Update

Happy July, everyone!

I’ve been asked by a few people what’s going on with construction and haven’t posted anything in a while. Sorry for the delay! Here’s what’s going on in the new office spaces and gazebo:

The new office spaces are almost ready to be occupied. Our contractor has worked with our sub-contractors on getting items on the “punch list” done. It’s a bit like going through a building with a fine tooth comb. Everything (and yes, I do mean everything!) is looked at carefully and if there’s anything that needs to be fixed or adjusted, it is. Once that happens, the building is inspected again and is given the all clear.

There are also two important pieces of the paper we need to legally occupy the new space. The first is called a Certificate of Occupancy. It is a document from the City of San Antonio saying that the building is in compliance with current building codes and is ready to have people in it and to be used for what it was designed for.

The second piece of paper is something called a Certificate of Substantial Completion. This piece of paper is from the architect saying that the construction is finished according to the plans and that it is ready to be used. They get letters from people like structural engineers saying that the building is structurally sound, as well as others who have worked on the project.

Because this involves so many different companies, governmental agencies, and people, it takes time to coordinate all the details. We are very close to having both certificates for the new offices, but a few more administrative details tied up before we can officially move into the space.

Once we can occupy these new office space and gazebo, there’s one more detail that needs to be finished. It is our responsibility to run telephone and Internet cables in the new office space. We have pipes behind the walls called conduit that will carry the phone and Internet lines throughout the building, but they don’t have any cable in them yet. Those cables will be one of the first things that will be installed in the new building once we have the Certificates of Substantial Completion and Occupancy.

So…. After the certificates and cables, four staff members will move furniture, office equipment, books, and all the other stuff they have in their old offices into new offices – Julie and Martha will be next to the gazebo. Travis and Karen will move from the upstairs of the FLC to their new offices.

Tomorrow I’ll have some information about our renovated sanctuary.

No Power on Wednesday

This Just In….

If you were in worship on Sunday, you found out that we weren’t going to have power on Monday to Church 3(.5) and the Administration Wing.  This is because our contractor needs to do necessary work to connect power to the new offices and the education building.

Well… to make a long story short because of the rain on Monday, the work had to be rescheduled and we found out this morning that it has been rescheduled for Wednesday.  This means that power and phones will be cut off on Wednesday for construction safety.

Plans are for the staff to be back in their offices Thursday morning.

There will be no crafty bunch or chancel choir tomorrow.


As usual…

Youth Night is still on, 6:30pm in Church 2, with supper, games and a devotion.

Al-Anon group meets in the Fellowship Hall at 7pm.


A financial stewardship update

When you give an offering at Zion, not every dollar stays at Zion.  We are a church with a missional mindset that is always looking to support ministries beyond our walls.  For every $100 given to the general fund, $10 goes to support organizations like Christian Assistance Ministry, the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA, CASA Helotes, and SAMM.  Each of these ministries do some wonderful work in the world on our behalf.

One of the difficult decisions our congregation council had to make last year was to temporarily suspend our benevolence payments to our ministry partners. The council did not make this decision lightly because they knew that the contributions we send do some wonderfully important and life-giving ministries that extend the work of Zion beyond the church’s walls. The goal was to do this for as little time as possible and to increase our Blessed Change collections from every 5th Sunday to every last Sunday of the month.  That has helped offset some of the losses.

The council made the decision to examine the finances on a monthly basis to determine when we could begin benevolence payments. The council also committed to keeping the congregation informed on what’s been happening. In that spirit, we want to let you know some good news on this front.

We have been able to make our benevolence payments for the last three months!  This impacts so many in our community and around the world.

We think that this is trend will continue so now we are operating under the assumption that we WILL be sending our benevolence payments rather than not sending them.

The only way this could have happened is because of your faithful financial giving. Thanks be to God for your generosity!

Lent 2017

Lent is here!  Maybe having an exclamation point isn’t the right way to talk about the muted season of Lent, so I’ll try that again… Lent is here.

This time of deep reflection is one of the more meaningful seasons of the church year for me.  We always begin on Ash Wednesday by thinking about our mortality and utter dependence upon God.  This year we’re gathering in Church #1 on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm for mid-week Lenten worship.

A few details:

-We’re going to be working on a congregational art project during Lent.  Maybe you’ve seen or colored pages from a coloring book.  This Lent we will have coloring pages mounted on the wall of Room 101 in the FLC.  These pages are pages from the Stations of the Cross.  While those of you with Roman Catholic roots will recognize the stations, they have been used by Christians of various traditions to mark the crucifixion of Jesus.

-We switch the liturgical music each season.  This season we’re trying a new setting of the liturgy called “Mass from Age to Age.”  It’s a great setting and here’s a preview of what we will be singing on Sundays throughout Lent.

-This Lent, we invite you to join us in Church #1 at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings for mid-week prayer.  This year we will be focusing on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

Please know that all are welcome!  We pray that God would richly bless you as you live out your faith!

Epiphany Building Update, Part 2

Yesterday I shared an update on some of what’s going on with our construction.  Today I’d like to share an update on an important step we announced in worship last Sunday.

As you remember, we made the difficult decision to stop construction on the new education building because of a significant unbudgeted repair in Church #3 that we didn’t find out about until we began renovations.  The savings from stopping the new education building provided a way for us to move forward.

The church’s leadership takes a close look at the finances and after several long conversations, we asked if it was possible for us to enclose the gazebo and build the office spaces.  Here are the advantages:

  1. It gives us an entrance from the 1604 side.  We regularly have visitors come to the doors nearest the gazebo who park on the 1604 side.
  2. The gazebo becomes another hospitality space we can use.  We love that space so much and hope that it becomes a great gathering space throughout the week and on Sunday mornings.
  3. Once construction is completed we will gain four new classroom and meeting spaces.
  4. While it doesn’t get us into all the new education building, it gets us into part of the education building.

Our contractor and architect came back with a price to complete the work.  It was more than what we had hoped.  This was because we are getting bids in 2017 (when we did the bid process the first time it was 2015 and the cost for things doesn’t go down, it goes up) and for a few other reasons.

Even though that’s not what we had hoped for, the good news is that all of this (including some unexpected expensive things) will have to be done someday, so if we do it in 2017, we will pay less than what it will cost us in the future.

Our building team met to discuss the proposal with the architects and our treasurer informed us that because of your generous contributions to the building fund, memorials given in memory of loved ones, cost savings on the current project, and contingencies from the construction, we are able to afford this project without asking to borrow any additional funds from our lender.  So… come the end of April, we’ll have an enclosed gazebo and three new office spaces!

If you have any questions about this, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer them!

Yours in Christ,


Pastor Russell


Epiphany Building Update

February 2017 Construction Update

Here we are half way through February and construction continues. We thought you’d like an update of what’s happened:

-Work continues on the sanctuary and narthex. One of the many things happening this week is that we’ve had people installing some beautiful hardwood flooring in the chancel (altar and pulpit) and choir areas. They’ve put the wood down and now are sanding and staining the floors.

-Pastor Dave, Pastor Russell, Suzie, Julie, and Martha will be moving back to a renovated administration wing February 21. A couple of notes related to that:
-If you have a meeting in the Administration Wing or need to stop by (we always love visitors), the only exterior door that will be open will be conference room door on the 1604 side of the church property. The Narthex is off limits until construction is completed.

-Pastor Russell and Suzie have switched offices. This is because Julie and Martha’s office will be moving once the Gazebo and new offices are completed later this spring.

-The Fire Marshall has not given us clearance to occupy the old nursery until construction is completed on the gazebo and new office spaces later this spring.

-Construction has re-started on the gazebo and new office spaces. I’ll have another post about this tomorrow, but this is a very good thing that happened and will help us as we move towards completing this building.

Finally, here are some pictures:

When you come to anything in the administration wing, please use this entrance until construction is over.  The narthex doors will be locked because it is a construction zone and the gazebo area will also be under construction.

Notice the new tile and paint in the hallway.  (Also notice that the doors that exit to the narthex have the “No Exit signs.”)

The restrooms have been renovated.  We had to make some changes in the restrooms because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  When you walk into each restroom you’ll notice new tile on the floor, new sinks and counter tops, and new bathroom stall doors.

Here’s a picture of the conference room.  You’ll notice the new carpet throughout the administration wing.

This is a picture of a stairwell next to the church office.  You’ll notice we have new lighting and that the stairwells are now open to the narthex.  We want to do what we can to let people know that we have a balcony that is available for seating.

Here’s a picture of the sanded floors for the chancel (altar and pulpit) and choir areas.  They have yet to be stained.

Here’s a picture of the interior of the new organ console.  If you go to the back of the Family Life Center, you’ll see the roll top down on it.  But here’s what will be coming into our sanctuary later this year.  We’ll have more information about the organ a little later in the year.

More to come tomorrow…

Pastor Russell