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!







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,


Entrances to Church #3

Yesterday we shared this picture on our blog and letting you know that two areas of the church property will have safety fencing up during construction.  As a reminder, these areas are off limits, even on Sunday mornings or when construction workers aren’t present!

Campus Map



One of the things you’ll notice is that the Gazebo entrance to Church #3 is in the construction zone.  Starting November 16 this entrance will be closed throughout construction, even on Sunday mornings.  The door facing out to the 1604 parking lot that is in the conference room will now be unlocked when the church is open.

In addition to the doors closest to the gazebo being closed during construction, once we start worshiping in the FLC, additional entrances to Church #3 will be closed during construction.

Starting in early 2016, the narthex, sanctuary, and music apse will be in the construction zone and will be off limits until construction is over in Fall 2016.  This means that in early 2016, we expect all the doors that lead to the narthex will be closed until construction is over.  When that happens the door outside the conference room (facing the 1604 side of the Church’s property) will become the ONLY entrance into Church #3.

With that said, we need your help with a couple of things:

-First of all, we ask that everyone have a sense of generosity and adventure.  This isn’t forever and it will lead to some wonderful changes here at Zion.

-From the 1604 parking lot, the Conference Room door will now be open when the church is open.  If you have limited mobility, please note that this is a grassy, uneven walk to the sidewalk next to the sanctuary.

-If you are physically able, please use the less accessible parking spaces on Sunday mornings so that the closer spaces can be used by those with limited mobility, small children, and visitors.


Loop 1604 Construction

Loop 1604 is under construction! Every day I see and hear the tractors and trucks working on 1604 and Braun. I need to share with you very important information about a road closure at Loop 1604 and Braun May 30-31 (Saturday and Sunday). Braun Road will be closed at 1604 while the contractor lays the beams that will eventually become the overpass at Braun Road and 1604.

A few details:
-I spoke with the deputy project manager from the construction firm handling this project. They had originally scheduled the road to close this weekend (May 16/17) but have changed weekends to May 30/31.

-If you cross Braun Road/1604 to get to the church, there are two detours TxDot is suggesting from their blog:
“We know the biggest movement will be the eastbound movement headed to the northbound Loop 1604 lanes (like you’re coming from FM 1560 and headed to Bandera Road). In order to do that, with the intersection closed, traffic will have to go all the way passed Shaenfield Road to turn around and head on your way….

Those coming from the Braun Heights area and headed south on Loop 1604 (like you’re going to Sea World) will need only to go to Bandera Road and turn around.”

We will do our best to promptly inform the congregation about Loop 1604 construction as soon as we hear anything!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Russell

Building Team Update

My father is a draftsman and works out of the house. As a child I remember him having clients to the house to discuss their house plans. There are a great number of details that go into building a house. My dad and his clients would look at a set of blueprints and spend hours talking about where to put everything in their house from windows to power outlets. Sometimes they would need to have discussions about their wishes versus their budgets. Those conversations were never easy.

I think about those memories of my childhood as our building team has been diligently working on the first steps of our master plan for facilities. We are blessed with a diverse group of people on the Building Team. They’ve been working hard with Alamo Architects and a contractor named G.W. Mitchell to do some planning that is necessary before we break ground.

This past Sunday in worship Don Josephson, Building Team Chair, shared information about what they’ve been doing over the last several months. Here are the highlights of Don’s temple talk:

-This process is a marathon, not a sprint. Before the first shovel hits the ground for construction, it takes about a year’s worth of planning. The Building Team is still on schedule with that planning and hopes to break ground later this year.

-This past Thursday the Building Team met with Alamo Architects and G.W. Mitchell to receive a detailed cost estimate. Earlier in the year, G.W. Mitchell had a large group of sub-contractors come out to the church to estimate every expense for this first step. Like any construction project, there were surprises that we did not expect. Unfortunately, the cost estimate for this first step was substantially more than our estimated budget of $5 million.

-Because the Building Team wants to be responsible stewards of the resources God has given to us, it will be necessary to rethink the first steps of construction. The pastors, program staff, Building Team, and Congregation Council will be gathering on February 26 to discuss how to proceed. After this meeting, we will have a congregational forum. The date for the congregational forum has not been set yet but we will inform the congregation as soon as possible.

– Even though we won’t be able to do everything we had hoped right now, we will continue to move forward with this master plan. We will not be stopping after this first step of construction. Our goal is to complete this master plan. It will take many years to complete, but we still believe that God is calling us to make this happen.

-As always, the Building Team invites your prayers and continued support.

What Signs of God’s Goodness Have You Seen?

When one of our former Presiding Bishops, Mark Hanson, was a parish pastor one of the first questions he’d ask with the congregation council was, “What signs of God’s goodness have you seen recently?”  I like that question because I think one of the important tasks the church has is to see what God is doing in the world.

I thought I’d share a little bit of where I have seen and hope to see God’s presence.

-A group of people that come to the church every Friday afternoon to assemble the bulletins.  Their work is an important ministry that often goes unrecognized.  But their ministry ensures that everyone who walks through the doors is welcomed to Zion.
-Pastor Dave, Vicar Emily, and I had a chance to spend several days together learning with other Lutheran leaders throughout Texas in New Braunfels.  While we miss being with you all, these times away are very important times for us to learn and grow as leaders in the church.
-I think of the baptism we had at 11:00 this pastor Sunday and the baptisms we will have this Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00.  I love being able to welcome people into Christ’s mission.
-I’m looking forward to hearing about the people that head to St. PJ’s home tomorrow to fix some of their bicycles.  There’s a lot of good happening at St. PJ’s and I’m proud that several groups have come together for this project.
-Three other groups that are meeting tomorrow morning.  Our men’s prayer breakfast, the prayer team, and our quilters all meet tomorrow morning.  Prayer is essential to our life together and I’m glad we’ll have two groups of people praying for our church and God’s world.  The quilters are faithfully making quilts for Lutheran World Relief.
-Meanwhile our drama ministry is hard at work for our Spring show.  I’m glad that we can share some of God’s goodness and beauty through the arts.  I rejoice that people who are a part of Zion and aren’t members of any church are here using their God-given gifts.
-Sunday we’ll hear from President Rick Barger of Trinity Lutheran Seminary.  Zion has been an internship site for 5 different interns from Trinity Seminary and is doing an important ministry for the wider church in helping to train its newest pastors.
-We’ll also be thinking about mission this Sunday in our Sunday school class. Vicar Emily put together a great series of classes to think about what it means to be God’s people in mission.
-Speaking of being God’s people in mission, we’ll be doing a lot of ministry feeding people over the next few days. Sunday you’re asked to bring at least a $1 and a canned good for the Souper Bowl Caring. All the money collected will go to Taking it To the Streets, a ministry that works with the homeless in our community. All the canned goods will go to Christian Assistance Ministry.
-We’ll be feeding people at Fisher House at Lackland AFB this Tuesday. If you’ve not been, you should!
-We’ll also be feeding homeless people in San Antonio this Friday through Taking it to the Streets. If you’ve not been, you should go as well…

Lots of signs of God’s goodness. It makes me thankful to be one of your pastors!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Russell