A Visual Update

There’s a lot happening at Zion this weekend.  Here’s are some visual pictures of what’s happening.

The Blood Mobile will be here at Zion this Sunday.  The need for blood is constant, so if you can give, please consider doing so.

The Women of Zion are collecting items for our partners at Lutheran World Relief through Sunday.  They are asking the congregation to bring any of the following items:

These basic items, which many of us take for granted, will be sent to people in need throughout the world.


Remember the Hogs?  Last Fall, after we had a workday before we moved into the sanctuary, a group of feral hogs decided to make a visit to Zion and tear up much of the landscaping we had done.  Tomorrow morning at 8:00, we’ll have a group out at the church re-sodding the area in between Church 3.5 and the Fellowship Hall.

We also announced several months back that we have been generously gifted the property at the corner of Leslie and Braun Roads from the Tausch and Deage Families.  We need to do some clean up of that property to help make it more usable for Zion.


Finally, Easter Sunday is coming April 1 (no joking!).  We need lots of help with ushers, communion assistants, the altar guild, and anything else you can think of.  No experience necessary and we’ll train you.  If you’re interested in helping with anything on Easter Sunday, call or email Suzie at the church office (210-688-3090, swyatt@zionsa.org).


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

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.

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

Advent Building Update

There’s a lot happening on the building front, so here goes!!!

1. If you were up here on Tuesday morning, you know that there were lots of trucks and people in the parking lot in front of Church #3. That’s because they were busy paving the parking lot! They also paved part of the lower parking lot next to Cemetery #2.

Before we start using the parking lot in front of Church #3, we need to practice a few more days of the Advent discipline of patience. We will NOT be able to use that parking lot until next week. We will make sure to tell you when it’s ok to start parking there.

2. The landscapers have been busy around the parking lot area planting trees, plants, and grass. It looks great.

3. The interior of the sanctuary is coming along nicely. Here’s a picture of what has been done.

A few details:
-The stained glass window is still being reworked and will be installed at a later date.
-The area with all the pieces of wood is where the pastors and musicians will go. The choirs and praise team go towards the back wall on risers, while the irregular shaped front is where the altar, pulpit, and other church furnishings will go.
-There is new lighting in the sanctuary. Each of these pendants uses approximately 90% less light than what we had in the sanctuary, puts out no heat, and will last 20 years before they will need to be changed.
-There is also track lighting that will be used to accent the music and chancel areas.
-The sacristy has been redesigned. The door to it is on the left side of the picture.
-The large open areas to the left and right of the large stained glass window are for the new pipe organ.

Here’s a time lapse video of the last month or so.

4. New lighting has been installed in the narthex area. Each of these lights are much more energy efficient than the old fixtures and will save us money in the long run. Here’s a picture.
A few details:
-The wall is flattened and there is less glass than before the remodel. Both of these changes will improve acoustics in the sanctuary.
-We are currently working on plans to broadcast the worship service in the narthex using a closed circuit system, so people that are in the narthex will be able to see and hear the worship service.

5. The office area is close to being finished. The staff plans on moving back into their offices after the first of the year. When we have an official clearance to move back, we’ll let you know because we’ll need some help with the moving.

6. Since we are doing remodeling, we have to meet current building codes. This means that we had to make some necessary changes to our restrooms to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
7. The Building Team is currently getting bids to complete a part of the education building. Because of this congregation’s generosity and because of our contractor’s wise stewardship, we believe we have enough to enclose the gazebo and complete three offices. Our contractor and architects are working hard to determine if that is the case. Having these offices will provide us with 4 additional classroom spaces in the FLC and will give us a beautiful entrance on the 1604 side.

Onward with the adventure!!

Pastor Russell

A picture of the sanctuary from the balcony, December 2016.

This Week at Zion…

Here’s a visual update on what’s been happening since we last posted:


Limestone is going back up!!  This is from the south side of the sanctuary (closest to Cemetery 2.)  Right now the stone masons are currently working on the south and west sides (the side facing Leslie Road).


The south parking lot exit from Leslie Road is open.  While the upper parking lots remains closed, the lower parking lot near Cemetery 2 is open.


This is a picture of workers installing the fire sprinkler system in the sanctuary that we are now required to have.



A few things to notice about this shot of the sanctuary from the balcony:

-At the bottom of the picture is the new location of the sound booth.  One of the acoustical issues we had was that the sound booth was in a difficult place to judge the acoustics of the room.  This change in location will help the sound team with figuring out how much to amplify the room.

-The large stained glass window is still being worked on and will be reinstalled at a later date.

-You can begin to see how the shape of the room will be different when we get back into the sanctuary.  This will also help improve the acoustics of the sanctuary.

-The trapezoids on both sides of the sanctuary will be built up over the next several months.  That will be where the pipes for our new pipe organ will be residing.



We heard several comments about the cemeteries being in need of mowing.   Since several of you asked what was going on, we thought we’d let you know.

If you live in the San Antonio area, you might know that we’ve had nearly double the rain we usually have.  That’s been great for recharging the Edwards Aquifer but it also means that grass grows pretty quickly.  We noticed that the cemetery was in need of mowing and we called the company that we contract with and they have been very busy cutting the grass of quickly growing properties across the city.  The rain caused them to be backed up with all their other work, followed by the Labor Day Holiday, it took a little bit of time to get done.  They weren’t able to come out any earlier than our normal scheduled time, but they did come out on time.


God’s Work at Zion

One of the joys of being a pastor is seeing signs of God’s goodness in lots of different places.  I thought I’d share some signs of God’s Spirit stirring here at Zion over the last few weeks.

-We’ve met our challenge grant!!  As was announced in worship last week, we had a family step forward with a generous gift to challenge the people of Zion to help meet some major unexpected expenses with our building.  We were able to collect over $156,000 (with more pledged on the way!) in a little over a month.  $150,000 of that will be matched through the challenge grant.  It looks like by the time the rest of the pledges come in, we will have collected around $325,000.  Thanks be to God!!!

-Last Sunday children in grades 2-5 assembled 210 school kits for children throughout the world in need.  Their kits, along with other congregations, will be sent to Lutheran World Relief.

-Our Sunday School is off to a great start.  Our education director, Karen Stein, is working with the teachers who help form faith in the lives of the littlest disciples.

-Our Blessed Change ministry sent $319 to our partners at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio in honor of our former vicar, Pastor Emily Ebert, who was recently ordained and called to serve a congregation in the Buffalo, NY area.

-This Saturday we have a group of 28 people heading downtown to help feed the homeless with Taking it to the Streets.  They will cook the food here at Zion and then feed anyone that is hungry.  Thanks to Tim Tiemann for heading up this important ministry!

-Next weekend we have a group of people going to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity.  We’re working with other Lutheran congregations in the area on this house.  We also have a group of volunteers that are feeding the crew on Saturday.

-We will have the bloodmobile here on Sunday.

-Third Graders are receiving Bibles this Sunday, September 11, as a way of Zion fulling baptismal promises to them. Three year olds have been given Story Bibles in their classroom as a way to introduce the Bible to them. They hear stories from these Bibles in their classroom.

-Our youth minister, Travis Baker, is having a confirmation ministry kick off this Sunday.  We give God thanks for the adults that spend their Sunday evenings with these youth as they go through this important part of their faith journey.

-Our musical groups have started back after a summer break.  We thank God for the people that use their musical gifts to praise the Risen Christ in worship!  It’s not too late to jump into one of our music groups.  For more info, contact Rob Mikulski.

-We recently commissioned a new Stephen Leader for our Stephen Ministry.  Several people in our congregation are considering becoming a Stephen Minister.  If you’d like to have more information about this ministry, contact Pastor Russell.

We are a blessed church!  God is doing some great things through this congregation.

In thankfulness for our partnership,

Pastor Russell