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.

-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.

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 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.)

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

Day by Day

Here’s the prayer of the day for Sunday.  See if you recognize any of the words…

“Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful redeemer,
for the countless blessings and benefits you give.
May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly, day by day praising you,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen”

Perhaps you thought of our fall theatre production, Godspell, which had this song in it.  It’s at this point that you might wonder if the worship planners have fallen off the deep end?

While the prayer is a song from the famous drama Godspell, the original source of the song comes from the medieval church.  Richard of Chichester, a thirteenth-century bishop of Chichester, England, and a reformer of the church wrote this famous prayer.  This Sunday’s Bible readings focus on our answer to God’s call.  We hear about that with the story of Samuel and Eli, as St. Paul talks about glorifying God with our bodies, and finally as the disciples hear an invitation to “come and see.”  So as we gather this weekend to hear God’s Word and share in the Lord’s Supper, think about the ways in which you can know, love, and follow God.