Lutheran church to dedicate new parish hall
RANKIN – St. John’s Lutheran Church and its recognizable bell tower sits on a rolling hill a few miles west of Algoma off State 54. You can’t appreciate the view until you step inside its new parish hall and gaze to the north overlooking a large valley of tree groves and farmland.
“On a good day, you can see Door County,’’ said parish hall project chairman Todd Haltaufderheid. On this day, a deer hunter in blaze orange could be spotted in a tree stand in the distance.
St. John’s will be dedicating and blessing its new parish hall featuring its amazing view with a 10:30 a.m. service Dec. 11 followed by an 11:30 a.m. community potluck.
However, the new structure was never about the view.
Built in 1967, St. John’s fellowship hall and Sunday school was aging and outdated. Classrooms were few. Children met in the dining room, stage area, meeting hall or in a small storage room. And it didn’t come close to meeting the accessibility requirements for elderly, handicapped or special needs. There was no elevator to the lower-level dining room where the community gathered for social events and funerals. Those who could not make it down the steps, stayed behind. Restrooms were all in the basement.
“We had a number of members who just couldn’t get down the stairs anymore,’’ Haltaufderheid said. “People in wheelchairs were set up in the hallway.’’
The parsonage voted almost unanimously in favor of demolishing the old building and replacing it with a structure about one-third larger. The project cost about $750,000 and will be paid for through an ongoing, three-year fundraising campaign. Ground was broken May 1 on the almost 7,000-square-foot building.
The new parish hall carries an ambitious purpose. It is based on how best to serve its people: youth, elderly and disabled, community and church-at-large:
Youth — More classroom space for growing families.
Elderly and disabled — All-access capabilities.
Community — Serve and benefit the community with sharing the facility.
Church-at-large — Missionaries all over the world are welcome.
The new structure emphasizes space. It now has a fellowship hall that can seat almost all of its 350 members, a large warming kitchen for its potlucks, four Sunday School classrooms, restrooms, a parish office and a pastor’s office. The hall also has wireless internet access and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. “You can go from one end of the building to the other and not see a step or have a bump anywhere for those using walkers,’’ Haltaufderheid said as he smiled. There are no ramps.
“The new building represents an outgrowth of who we are. It’s not just a building, but an opportunity to benefit our Christian education and community,’’ said the Rev. Christopher Jackson, who also serves St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Forestville.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Lutheran church to dedicate new parish hall