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.

-Finally
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.

Stories of Faith in Action #3

Over the last several days we’ve been hearing about how people at Zion have been using their gifts to put their faith in action.  Today’s story is from Dave Newman, one of our leaders of Zion’s Lutheran Men in Mission about a unique way a group of men used their gifts.  He writes:

“November 25 was a bittersweet day at Zion.

The bitter? After months of careful planning, designing, and praying, several of our oak trees had to be pushed over to make way for the new Education Building. Sad…those trees probably watched as Zion came and grew to be the church it is today. There is a common grieving throughout the congregation about losing some of God’s beautiful creations.

The sweet? God is continually the creator. Obviously, we soon will be blessed with a great new educational facility and enhanced areas for work and fellowship. We also will be blessed with many more new trees, albeit younger/smaller, for future generations.

And also…God creates opportunities. The trees were scheduled to be hauled to the landfill. What a waste! For years, Zion’s men have traveled many miles gathering firewood for Zion BBQ’s. The opportunity to gather firewood from our own church grounds was heaven sent. Also, the trees could be honored with a noble end…providing the next “Holy Smoke” for another Zion BBQ.

In keeping with the traditions passed down throughout our history, our men felt a responsibility to support Zion. Several volunteered hastily arranged hours to cut up and stack most of the fallen trunks and limbs before they were to be hauled away. We gathered enough firewood to last for several BBQ’s. While we still mourn the loss of our trees, we will be able to continue serving Zion again and again with the heat from burning their remains. A wonderful fringe benefit of the project was the camaraderie the Spirit provided among those who helped.

Any who would like to be included in Zion’s next Lutheran Men in Mission event, contact Dave Newman. (210-859-7860 or ddnewman@mac.com)”

 

Stories of Faith in Action #2

We’re continuing our series of stories of faith in action.  As people of faith, we are entrusted with caring for all of God’s creation.  It takes all of us using our gifts and these posts are stories of how people have answered the call to serve God in the world.  Today’s story is from Sammy Mikulski, our director of theatre ministries.  She writes:

“For the past 4 years I have had the honor of heading up the Thanksgiving Basket food drive. This is a ministry that is very dear to my heart. When I was a child I was one of those who received those baskets, and the joy that came along with it is unexplainable.

This year we were able to feed 25 families wonderful meals from olives to turkey with all the trimmings,  through to the pumpkin pie desert, because of the generous folks here at Zion. The smiles we received this year were wonderful, and two of the families had us hold hands and say a prayer with them.   They were all so gracious, we were invited in like we were one of the family. To me this is what Thanksgiving is all about.

A huge thank you to Zion for the amazing donations of food, money, and gift cards. And another huge thank you to our food deliverers Celeste, Julie, the entire Christmas family, Bonnie , Brinkley, Lindsay, Gavin, Amy and Manny.  God is Great… God is Good…you know the rest!”

Stories of Faith in Action

We’re going to have a series of posts from people in the congregation about how they live out their faith.  Today’s first story is from Mary Mora, one of our Meals on Wheels Volunteers.

COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS

When I get back into the car after delivering a meal to one of our clients, I often get to tell my partner, Ken, “that’s number three for today”! Through the “Meals on Wheels” program we have encountered many wonderful, grateful people who are happy to give us a blessing for taking care of them in this way. It makes us feel good, too. After all, isn’t that usually the product of volunteerism? The “MOW” is a perfect vehicle for directly having an impact that helps senior citizens, handicapped persons, and low income individuals that otherwise might go hungry receive a hot, balanced meal. Our part, the delivery of the meals, is not complicated. The overall program is very organized and we receive sufficient training and back-up supervision that makes volunteering easy. We pick up the meals in a special warming oven in Zion’s kitchen in the Family Life Center and, along with a cold bag with milk, juices, fruit and snack, we begin delivering to some 8 to 12 clients. We are generally finished in under two hours. We have chosen to deliver on Thursdays, twice a month. Others may want to go every Friday, for example, or three times a month, or simply be a back-up for a friend who cannot make it a certain day.

It’s also a good way to keep an eye on these particular individuals and insure a measure of good health, not to mention their thanks, and “God Bless You(s):”

If you are interested in more information, please call Coordinator David Wille, 210-647-0404.
Mary Mora

 

The Adventure Begins!

I am so thankful for this past Sunday. We had a wonderful day where we gathered for worship, offered their intentions to give for 2016, had our annual meeting, and broke ground on the new facilities for ministry. Thanks be to God for all the hard work that went into making that day so meaningful!

This past Sunday at the annual meeting I talked about two important words that will mark our time together for the next year – generosity and adventure.

Generosity – When we talk about generosity, most of the time people think we’re reaching for their pocket books to ask people to give more of their financial resources. While money is a part of generosity, this next year we will have a lot of opportunities to practice generosity. During construction we will need to have a generous spirit with each other. As I said Sunday, we are going to be an equal opportunity offender! Everybody is getting (Everyone will be) displaced over this next year and that means that everyone’s toes will be stepped on. It will be easy for us to get grumpy about things, but Pastor Dave and I want to invite every person in this community of faith to embody generosity in all we say and do, especially over this next year.

Adventure – Christianity is an adventure. God’s call on our lives takes us to places we’d never imagine doing things that seem inconceivable. We can choose to see this as a burden where we complain about all the things we can’t do or we can see this as an adventure, part of our journey with God. We are choosing to see this as an adventure and we invite you all to come along!

As we begin this construction project, 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 Evening Prayer, Evangelical Lutheran Worship.)

Connect*Give*Grow Update

There’s been a lot of stuff happening that we thought you’d like to know.  Here are some of the highlights:

1.  Mark your calendars for November 8!  This is an important day in the life of our congregation.  After worship, we will have our annual meeting and then at 1:00 we will have our groundbreaking for our new facilities.  After the groundbreaking, we will gather in the FLC for a soup luncheon.

2.  Our architects have been hard at work with our general contractor finalizing the details for our construction.

3.  The first steps are starting!   Look carefully at this picture:

Theatre Renovation - Step 1

Do you see the speakers in the top center of the picture?  If you come into the FLC now, you’ll see they aren’t there any more.  We’ve upgraded the speakers and re-positioned them so we can improve the acoustics in the room.

Do you see the people holding the two people on the ladders in the picture?  They are busy taking down the lights because we are upgrading the lighting system in the FLC for our theatre ministry.  The new lights will be higher quality and consume much less electricity.  So, when you come to Little Shop of Horrors at the end of October, you can come knowing that your contributions to Connect*Give*Grow helped with this.

4.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) staff in the portables behind the gazebo will be moving to temporary office space throughout the campus.  Movers will be coming on tomorrow morning to move their furniture.  Here’s who this impacts:
Karen Stein will move to FLC 203.
Travis Baker will move to FLC 204.
Jen Bauer will move to FLC 204.
Sammy Mikulski will move to the Music Apse.

Please note: the doors to the FLC will remained locked throughout the week.  If you are on campus and have to see Karen, Travis, or Jen, please stop by the church office or call the office when you get to the church campus (210-688-3090).

5.  Our friends at Kids of the Kingdom have moved to their new home at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church on Bandera Road this weekend.  We give God thanks for their presence here at Zion for the last years and pray for God’s blessings as they go to their new home.

God’s blessings!!

Pastor Russell

WIGIAT?

One of my favorite questions I was taught to ask is, “Where is God in All of This?”  It’s a great question to help us to begin to realize that God’s presence is surrounding us in all of life.  I thought I’d share two moments of God’s presence in the midst of ordinary moments that happened today:

1.  This morning I received an email from a Northside ISD principal who works at a high poverty school.  We were able to take school supplies to this school and I received a touching thank you note from them.  Here’s a portion of the note:

“On the first day of school, a small sixth grade female student was walking around campus with half of her needed school supplies in a trash bag. She provided what she could. As soon as I noticed her, I took her aside and gave her a backpack and the missing school supplies. Her smile and demeanor brightened immediately. Your donation enabled this event to happen and made a difference in the lives of many of our students. Our kids want support, not sympathy. Thank you for supporting our kids.”

2.  I also found out that we collected over $580(!) with our most recent Blessed Change collection.  Every fifth Sunday we ask people to bring spare change for a cause to support God’s mission in the world.  This time we’re buying a great resource from the wider church called Prayer Book for the Armed Services.  We already give this important resource to people when we know that they are being deployed.  What we collected on Sunday will be given to our partners in ministry in the chaplain’s office at Joint Base San Antonio so they can give them to soldiers stationed at JBSA.

What is striking to me is how God takes ordinary things and uses them in ways we can’t begin to imagine.  A few coins dropped from our pockets or purses on Sunday morning become enough to order lots of books for soldiers serving our country in places across the world.  People purchasing school supplies at the store blesses a young girl in our community.

Thanks for your generous support of these ministries!  What you do makes a difference in a world and is powerful way to serve God by serving others.

Blessed to be in this partnership with you,

prp

Connect*Give*Grow Update

This past Sunday the chair of our building team, Don Josephson, shared with the congregation an update about their work.  We thought we’d share the highlights of what’s going on.

-Our architects have been hard at work on detailed drawings.  They’ve met with pastors, staff, and the building team several times to plan out the new education building and modifications to the sanctuary.
-Rob continues to work with the architects and organ builder with the organ that is currently in Midland.
-Sammy and Rob continue to work on plans for helping to make some improvements to the FLC to help with the sustainability of our drama ministry.

We have a tentative timeline of construction.  The important word in that sentence is tentative because in any construction project, things could change.

Early September 2015:  Drawings for the buildings will be completed.
September-October: We will go through the permitting process with the City of San Antonio.
Late Fall: Groundbreaking.  Construction with the classroom building begins.

Early January 2016:  Worship shifts from the sanctuary to the FLC.
Late January:  The current organ (aka Penelope) is removed from the sanctuary.
Early February: Sanctuary renovations begin while classroom building construction is ongoing.
April-May: The Midland organ is dismantled, moved, and stored here at Zion.
End of May-Early June: Construction ends in the sanctuary.
June and July: The Midland organ is rebuilt in the Sanctuary.
End of August-Early September: Finishing construction over organ installation is completed.
Mid-September:  Construction on sanctuary and classroom building is completed.

We give God thanks for the hard work of the building team and ask for your prayers as we enter into the next steps.

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