Teaching the Faith

Today’s blog is written by our Director of Christian Education, Karen Stein.

Teach Faith Formation Classes (aka Sunday School) – Who Me?

What, you want me to teach Sunday school? I am not cool enough or young enough for kids to relate to me. I am too young and am not wise enough to teach kids effectively. I can’t keep kids entertained and I know our church surely doesn’t have enough money in the budget to produce an awesome multimedia presentation each week. So see I can’t teach!

But WAIT, maybe it is okay if you don’t have to have all those “things” to be a good teacher. Children are looking for someone who cares, knows their name, encourages them and makes them feel like they are important. They also need someone who is reliable. Above all, children need someone who loves God, is willing to tell them about him and share his love with them.
Yes, it does take commitment on your part to teach but with prayer, practice and some planning you can do it. You will plant seeds of faith and make a difference in children’s lives.

Teachers are still needed for Kindergarten, Second Grade and Fourth Grade. Questions or you want more information? Call (688-3090), e-mail (kstein@zionsa.org) or text (210-367-4449).

Preparing for Worship

As you prepare for worship tomorrow morning, we thought we’d share with you a little bit about our bulletin cover.  It’s a beautiful picture from the Hubble Telescope in a distant galaxy called NGC 1569.

This particular galaxy is interesting because it’s “busting at the seams with stars” and keeps producing stars at an astonishing speed.  So, why did we pick this picture?
In our first reading this Sunday, Abraham is talking with God and is wondering how he and his elderly wife, Sarah, will have descendants.  God tells Abraham to count the stars in the sky, if he can.  Of course, Abraham can’t and he gets God’s point that one day there will be lots of Abraham’s sons and daughters.  Because of Jesus, God raises up children of Abraham in the church.
In Abraham’s day, there was no Hubble Telescope for humans to explore the vastness of the cosmos.  So as we hear these words on Sunday, we hope you’ll think about how the stars in the universe continue to grow, just as Abraham’s descendants do.

A Visual Update, Part 2

Yesterday we shared a visual building update.  Today we continue with two more pictures courtesy of John Dill, our organ builder.

Organ 2 picture

Our organ’s console is being built in Ohio.  Here’s a picture of the front of the organ.   Notice there are three keyboards that Rob can play.  Each of the round holes to the left and right of the keyboards will be filled with knobs called stops.  Each stop produces different sounds.  When an organist puts different stops together, s/he can create different textures to help with the music.

Console Part 1

Here’s the back side of the console.  When it arrives to Zion, it will have a wood cover over it and a lot more mechanical and electric parts.

A Visual Building Update

A (visual) construction update


We thought we’d share a little bit about what’s happening at Zion on the construction front –



This is a picture of a sidewalk leading from the gazebo to the parking lot in front of Church 3.  After some delays, we have sidewalks in the parking lot in front of Church 3!


We also have curbs installed!


Light Post

I know this isn’t the original meaning of the quote, but I’ll still use it… “Let there be light!”  We have light poles installed in the parking lot in front of Church 3.  These light poles are LED light poles and use much less energy than our previous light poles.


Bike Rack

One of the things we are required to do by the city of San Antonio is to have a bike rack on the property.  We asked for a variance because of our location and the lack of bicycle traffic, but we were not granted one.  This is the landing for the bike rack that will be installed soon.



Do you see the white material on the outside wall with the writing on it?  It’s called Tyvek and is a waterproofing product.  Church 3 and the Administration building are wrapped with this because it’s a water and air barrier that will prevent future moisture damage and keep our building energy efficient.  By the end of August, the limestone should be returning around the exterior of the building.


Julie and Martha Office

Work continues on the fire sprinkler system in Church 3 and the administration wing.  When the building was built in the late 1980’s we were not required to have fire sprinklers.  Now we do, so we are getting them installed.  Here’s a picture of Julie and Martha’s office.

As always, we are so thankful for the many ways you have been a resilient, adventurous, and generous people.  God’s blessings be with you!







South Dakota

Today’s guest author is Ryan Wilburn, one of our youth participants on the South Dakota mission trip.

When people asked me where I was going for my youth mission trip this summer, I told them what I knew, that we would be helping out on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. I had it in my head that I would be stuck in the middle of nowhere for a week in the middle of summer. I had no idea that I would leave after an amazing seven days with my eyes opened and my heart full of the love of Christ.

Rosebud, South Dakota was quite unlike any place that any of us had ever seen, let alone experienced. We spent a week immersed in the culture and lives of the Lakota people, playing alongside their children, and working to create a future for the culture.

I was blessed to be able to work with the children in Parmalee, a town outside of Mission where we stayed during the week. I never thought that it was possible to love strangers as much as my friends and I loved those kids and I didn’t think that a lunch of fish sticks and frozen peas could be so fulfilling. I don’t think any of us expected to be leaving Parmalee in tears on Thursday night, but we were surprised by a lot on this trip.

The kids we met in our four short days taught us so much about life and loving unconditionally. They didn’t let their happiness be dulled by the fact that their community is trapped in a cycle of poverty or that they live in a place where the unemployment rate is higher than any of us could even imagine. The smiles on the faces of those children and the light in their eyes opened my eyes to what joy truly is. While some of us were able to see our work pay off before our eyes as we laughed and read and gave piggy back rides, another group was moving furniture and painting walls in a community center in Mission.

Throughout the week I wondered what their work meant and how it was impacting the people we came here to serve, and these questions were answered when we met Shane Redhawk who, with his wife Noella, created this safe haven for youth in the community, a place where they can reconnect with their Lakota culture while avoiding the trouble that is all too common among the young people. So while the work projects crew wasn’t able to see the impact they made immediately, their work was crucial in the improvement of the community center that will be help so many people for years to come.

Every one of us made an impact on the people in those communities, just as the communities made a huge impact on us. I watched as God worked through every one of us, breaking down our barriers so that we could love and serve as the hands and feet of Christ. Now when people ask me about my mission trip, I jump at the opportunity to tell them about the Lakota people of the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and their rich culture and the buffalo and most of all the relationships I formed with the kids, the community, and my fellow youth. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a week of my summer.

July 28 Update

It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything on the blog about what’s happening at Zion with our construction. Here are the highlights:
-The demolition on Church #3 and the administration wing is now over. The contractor is starting to put up exterior waterproofing material called Tyvek and the limestone will be going up soon.
-The sanctuary and administration wing of Church #3 are now being renovated and are off limits. The construction workers are currently working on installing a fire sprinkler system and remodeling the restrooms to meet current building codes.
-The pastors, Suzie, and Martha have moved their offices to the Fellowship Hall for the next two months. Julie Rode-Hickey will be working from home and will be in the church office on an as needed basis. If you need to stop by the church office during the day, please come to the Fellowship Hall.
-Work continues on the parking lot in front of Church #3. We appreciate how patient the congregation has been with the parking lot.
-Last Thursday we fed the construction crew in the FLC. It was a great way to say thank you to a group of people that don’t get all that much recognition. Thanks to everyone who came out to help feed and serve the crew, they appreciated it.
Pipe Organ Update
Our organ builder, John Dill, is currently in Midland removing some pipes from the organ that will be installed in the sanctuary. Yesterday in staff meeting, we heard a fun story we wanted to share.

Removing pipes from a pipe organ is a difficult job. Pipes in a pipe organ are a variety of weights and lengths, but a good average for each rank (i.e. a set of pipes for a particular sound) is that it weighs around 600 pounds. Once installed, our organ’s pipes will weigh around 20,000 pounds.

A local high school football team heard that Mr. Dill was in Midland removing pipes. They were interested to see how a pipe organ gets removed and stopped by to see if they could help. Mr. Dill was more than glad to accept their help because the pipes can be as long as 16 feet and can be very heavy. So they formed an assembly line to pass each of the pipes down the line and put them in boxes for transport to San Antonio. At the end of the day, they had so much fun doing this; they asked if they could come back another time to help! Mr. Dill was more than happy to have them come back and because of their help, we will have a large shipment of pipes arriving to Zion tomorrow morning around 9:30 am.

This is where you can help. If you have a flexible schedule, we could certainly use a few people to help unload these pipes and put them in storage. We will have a group of people that will be meeting in Church #2 parking lot at 9:30. Come and stay for as long as you can and we’ll be happy to put you to work! For more information, contact music director (and organ transplant coordinator) Rob Mikulski.

More Building Adventures! Part 2

Yesterday we shared an important post about the installation of the fire sprinkler system.  Today we want to share with you some more important information about as well as answer a few frequently asked questions.

As we said in a z-mail to the congregation yesterday, it’s now time for us to stop using the Narthex doors as our main entrance.  Please use the 1604 entrance outside the conference room.  If you require assistance (i.e. wheel chair or other assistance entering the church office), please call the church office first.

And now onto some Frequently Asked Questions.

Q. When will the parking lot in front of Church #3 be open again?
A. This is the question we are getting asked most frequently. The short answer is that it will be a couple of months. Our contractor has advised us to wait to pave the parking lot until heavy trucks are no longer needed in that parking lot. If we were to go ahead and pave the parking lot now, trucks would be coming in and out of the parking lot, potentially causing damage to the asphalt and we would have to pay to have the parking lot paved again.

Q. I wasn’t at the June 26 congregational meeting. What did we vote on?
A. We voted to approve a modified Phase I of the construction that shells in the exterior of the education building, renovates the sanctuary, and fixes the water damage to Church #3 and administration offices.  We also authorized the congregation council to secure any additional financing through Mission Investment Fund to pay for this remediation.  We are hopeful that through your generosity, we will not have to take out any additional loans.

Q. When will we get back into the sanctuary?
A.  It looks like we will get into the sanctuary in the late Spring of 2017.  As we have more information we will share that with the congregation.

Q. What’s happening to the limestone on the exterior?  I see piles of it on the ground and I thought we were re-using the limestone.
A.  Two things:

  1. We are reusing as much of the limestone as we can.  The limestone has mortar in between each piece and has to be removed with some force.  Some pieces of limestone will be cracked as they are removed, but the overwhelming majority of limestone will be reused.
  2. Just because the limestone is on the ground doesn’t mean that it won’t be reused.  Each piece of limestone has to be organized and put on a pallet, so that takes some time to do properly.

Yours in this Adventure,


More Building Adventures!

When we first began talking about the first phase of construction, we knew we had to make several changes to meet current city building codes that weren’t in existence in the late 1980’s when Church #3 was built. An example we’re now living with is the parking lot outside Church #3. The city of San Antonio requires a whole host of things for a parking lot to be used.  (File that under the category “something I didn’t learn in seminary!”)

Another thing we knew we would have to do is to add a fire sprinkler system in the Sanctuary and Administration Wing. We knew that pastors and staff would have to be out of the building while that is installed. The one thing we didn’t know is when that would happen.

We found out recently that it is time for the fire sprinkler system to be installed. This portion of the project will begin Tuesday, July 19. Our construction superintendent has informed us that it will take approximately 2 months to install the sprinkler system.

Here’s what this means:
-The church office will move to the Fellowship Hall on Monday, July 18 for the next few months. Because we will be moving and setting up our new office space, we will have limited phone and email access on that day.  Leave us a message on our voice mail system or send us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
-Julie Rode-Hickey will be working from home during this time and will be in the office on an as needed basis. The best way to contact her for newsletter and bulletin items will be by email (jrodehickey@zionsa.org).
-All parts of the administration wing of Church #3 (conference room, restrooms, old nursery, and pastors’ and staff offices) will be off limits starting July 19. Please do not enter into this construction zone until after the fire sprinkler system is installed.
-All regularly scheduled activities in the Fellowship Hall, Conference Room, and Old Nursery will need to be temporarily moved to different locations on campus. If you lead one of these ministries and haven’t been contacted, please contact Pastor Russell (rpeek@zionsa.org).

Yours in this Adventure,


The Adventure Continues, Part 3

In the previous posts, we shared information about what we know about Church #3 and how that impacts the rest of the construction project. Let’s look ahead to what’s coming –

1. Scaffolding is going up around the sanctuary and administration building.  It will take several weeks for the scaffolding to go up.
2. One of the commonly asked questions is – When do we expect to be back in the sanctuary?  We expect to return to our sanctuary in late Spring 2017.  In the meantime we will continue to meet in the Family Life Center for worship.
3.  Our architect and contractor are aggressively working on finding us savings. They understand our predicament and have spent many hours working for us.
4. We are working on the financial implications on all of this. Our capital campaign team that did such a marvelous job with Connect*Give*Grow has reconvened.
5. It is important that members of this community keep their offerings to the general fund and building fund current.
6. We will have a congregational meeting on June 26, immediately after the 11:15 service (at approximately 12:30). We need you to be present for that meeting.

If you have other questions or comments, please feel free to send an email to the church office and we’ll be happy to answer them the best we can. The building team, council, and staff have committed themselves to communicating as much as they can about this.

Finally, we invite you to be in prayer during this time. We went into this trusting that “God is calling…” and we continue this trusting that God is still calling.

The Adventure Continues, Part 2

Yesterday we shared a little bit about what’s happened with our building project.  To say the least, it’s an unexpected obstacle in this time of adventure!

The building team, staff, and council have been hard at work these last several months trying to figure out our next step forward.  We have been blessed with gifted contractors and architects who have been very helpful and supportive.

The main priority for us is to fix this problem so that it won’t happen again.  We don’t want to “kick the can down the road” for future disciples at Zion to deal with this because we know that this problem will get worse with time.

Our contractor and architect had several lengthy discussions on how to properly fix this and we were informed that the only way to move forward is to remove the exterior limestone, abate the damaged portions of the wall, properly fix the “bones” of the interior walls, and then put the limestone back up again. This fix will make sure we have a water tight building that won’t have this problem again.

This is not something we want to do but it is something we have to do. If we don’t do it now, not only will the building get worse (and cost more to fix), we also  run the risk of losing our construction financing.

This will be expensive. The initial price estimates we have received are that this will cost us about $1.2 million dollars. Since we had no way of knowing this was happening, we did not budget for such a major expense. At the same time, we cannot responsibly borrow another $1.2 million without putting significant financial strain on the congregation, so we have two options –
1. To pause part of the first sequence of construction until we collect the needed money.
2. Raise the $1.2 million quickly to pay for this unexpected surprise.

While we hope that we will be able to raise the necessary funds as soon as possible, at this point the leadership of this congregation feels that we must do the financially responsible thing and make the difficult decision to stop part of the project.  To save enough money, we must either –
1. Complete the exterior of the education building but not any of the interior.
2. Complete the exterior of the sanctuary but not any of the interior.

We don’t like either of these options. We strongly feel that both of these spaces are needed for our ministry. We also don’t like that if we stop work on either project; it will cost us more to complete it at a later date.

Our contractor and architect made the recommendation that we stop work on the interior of the education building. We agree with their recommendation and have asked them to work on finding as much savings as possible by not finishing the education building.

This means that the exterior of the education building will be completed but the rest of the education building will remain incomplete until we raise the needed funds. When people drive by our church, they will see a completed exterior. But because the interior will not be completed, we will not be able to occupy this space until the interior is completed.

Right now, we our main priorities are to keep the congregation informed on what’s going on and to navigate what has become a very complicated building project. We know that we will need to vote on some important items on June 26 at 12:30, so we’re asking for your presence at this important meeting. We are also asking for your prayers and support during this time.

More to come tomorrow…