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!







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…

The Adventure Continues

November 8, 2015 was a great day at Zion. We processed out of the sanctuary after our congregational meeting to break ground on our new construction. As we entered into construction, the two words Pastor Dave and Pastor Russell used were – “generosity” and “adventure.”

What an adventure it’s been! In January we made the transition from the sanctuary to the Family Life Center and began a new worship schedule. We give God thanks for the many ways in which this congregation has been so gracious with each other during this time of transition.

In any adventure there are obstacles. Earlier this year, we found out what our obstacle would be. As we began necessary demolition of parts of the sanctuary for remodeling, we found out something no one had any way of knowing about. Due to our previous architect and contractor not using best practices, we have significant problems in our sanctuary and administration building that we didn’t know about until we started looking behind the walls.

Here’s a list of the major problems:
1. There is supposed to be a gap between the limestone (which is a façade) and the walls actually holding up the building to allow for moisture drainage. The gap is smaller than what is usually called for and is clogged with remains of limestone and mortar.
2. The materials behind the limestone were not properly waterproofed.
3. The stained glass windows in the sanctuary were not flashed, allowing water to enter into the sanctuary.

We did additional testing and selective removal of other portions of the building and found out that this is present throughout the whole sanctuary and administration building.

While all this testing was going on, we consulted multiple attorneys to see what legal options we have against the previous contractor, architect, and inspector. Texas law gives us 10 years to find these sorts of defects and this building is over 25 years old, so we have no legal action. We have also contacted our insurance company to see if we can make any sort of insurance claim.

So in light of all of that, work has begun on fixing the problem. Earlier this week scaffolding began to be placed around the sanctuary walls and will remain there for several months.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a post on what will happen while the scaffolding is around the sanctuary.

Building Update

I thought I’d put together a brief update of what’s been happening with our construction:

-Penelope the Organ
To begin with I’d like to show a video from the Christ Cathedral in California after the Roman Catholic Church purchased that property from the Crystal Cathedral.

Our organ project isn’t nearly as large, but you can begin to see from the video how time consuming a project like this can be.

The pipe organ in Church #3, which was nicknamed Penelope, was removed from the sanctuary last week. It was a fascinating process to watch from start to finish. Each of the individual pipes had to be carefully removed, labeled, wrapped, and then put in boxes for transportation to the Dallas area. There are also parts on the inside of the pipe organ made of various types of wood that are made with various types of wood that are bulky and heavy that had to be removed and stored.

After a very full week of work, the final pieces of the pipe organ were removed from the sanctuary on Friday afternoon.

A lot of people have asked – what’s going to happen to Penelope?  If we were going to continue to use her in the sanctuary, she was going to need some significant repair work.  Rather than repairing Penelope, our organ builder took parts of Penelope so they can be re-purposed for future pipe organs throughout the country.

-All The Pews that Fit
Before major construction begins, the pews in the sanctuary have to be removed during construction. So here’s a quick run-down of what’s happened:
1. When the pews were installed, they were anchored into the floor. They had to be removed from the floor.
2. The longer pews in the sanctuary are actually two pieces joined together. They were taken apart.
3. In preparation for moving, the pews were wrapped in plastic to protect them as they’re stored during construction.

After all of that, the pews are being removed from the Sanctuary Wednesday and will be in storage during the renovation and it will be time for some selected demolition in the sanctuary.

-Moving Dirt…
Work on the education building continues…

Last week several parking spaces on the 1604 side were fenced off. There have been lots of loads of dirt dumped on our property that form the base for the new education building. The dirt has been moved around, packed, and will continue to be formed into a solid foundation for this building.  If you come up to the church campus during the day, you’ll probably hear the beeps and other sounds of heavy construction equipment like bulldozers.

As always, we’re thankful for the ways in which this community of faith embodies generosity and adventure.  I invite you to keep our building team, staff, and construction crew in prayer.

Getting Ready For Sunday

Before we begin, let us pray.

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-A prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship

This Sunday marks an important shift for 2016 at Zion – we are moving down to the Family Life Center for most of the year while our sanctuary is remodeled. This past Sunday we said goodbye for a little while to Church 3 and now it’s time for the adventure to continue.

Before we continue, I want to thank the 60 or so people that helped move us out of the sanctuary this past Sunday. Their work made a major difference! We’ve also had several other projects during the week that others have done to help with this transition. Thank you for your generosity!

Now onto Sunday….
When you pull into the parking lot, you’ll notice we have moved some handicap parking spaces over by the Fellowship Hall. If you are more able-bodied, please reserve better parking spaces for the elderly, families with small children, and those who have mobility issues closer to the FLC.

Also, please don’t park in the loop next to the Family Life Center. That is for people to drop off people and functions much like our port cochere (the covered driveway by the sanctuary) did when we were in Church 3.

Starting at 8:00 we will have some coffee on in Room 101. There are some comfy chairs, tables, and we think it will be a really neat space to visit before or after worship. Come on in and visit!

There are three entrances to the worship space. You can enter through Room 101, the doors next to Room 101, or the doors facing Braun Road (the doors closest to the Coke machine). On days when the weather isn’t bad, we’ve asked our ushers to be outside to greet people.

The layout of the worship space is similar to the sanctuary. You’ll notice some chairs with arms through out the sanctuary. If at all possible, please reserve these chairs for people who need a little more help getting up out of a chair.

As a reminder, the nursery has temporarily moved to the Fellowship Hall. If you need to have your child cared by our awesome nursery staff, enter through the doors facing Leslie Road.

If you see something that we’ve missed or something that could make things run a bit smoother while we are worshipping in the FLC, let one of the pastors know and we will see what we can do.

Here are some common questions we’ve been asked as we prepare for this adventure:
How long will we be worshipping in the FLC?
We will return to the sanctuary at sometime in Fall 2016. We will have an exact date once we are closer to construction being completed.

If I have items to donate to CAM or somewhere else, where do they go?
There is a plant on the main floor of the FLC with a sign that says, “Donation Station.”

Because the pews aren’t in there, I’m assuming we won’t have Bibles, hymnals, or other papers and envelopes in our seats?
That’s correct. Our bulletin will include hymns and songs that weren’t previously in there.

If I forgot my offering envelope or want to make a special donation on Sunday for a special cause, what do I do?
You can find envelopes that were in the pews at the Welcome Center.

What about our theatre ministry? How will that work?
2016 won’t be quite the same as years past, but there are some really neat things planned. Stay tuned!

One final thought:
We are on an adventure together. We have tried very hard to do as much as we can to make this transition as smooth as possible. Thanks be to God for your commitment to the mission and ministry of Zion. It has been a joy to be a part of this time in our church’s history.

The Gates

Hi everyone!

It’s been a busy few days at Zion.  Here are a few pictures of the changes that have taken place.


*The construction trailer has been delivered and is at the corner of our property near the Church of Christ and 1604.  It occupies several parking spaces next to the pump house.


Construction Pictures

A few things to notice:

*On the left side of the picture you’ll notice an area of the ground that is being prepared for a sidewalk.  This will tie into existing sidewalks so people can access the conference room door while the church is open.

*The trailers have been moved.  One has moved next to the Music Apse and will be used for storage.  The other one is in our parking lot and will be taken off site soon.


*The safety fence around the construction zone is almost complete.  As a reminder, this now means that the Gazebo is now closed until construction is finished.  If you wish to enter Church #3 (the Sanctuary), you can use the narthex entrance on the Leslie Road side or the conference room entrance on the 1604 side.

Yours in this adventure!!

Pastor Russell