Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - February 11, 2004

Expansion becoming a reality for Nordland

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Moving building to Nordland Thanks to a stroke of good luck - and perhaps to a little divine intervention - Nordland Lutheran Church has found a way to complete its long-awaited expansion project.

The church will add 3,400 square feet to its existing building, but instead of building the new addition from scratch, the church has purchased part of a vacated church building.

Nordland moved the fellowship hall from Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church near Spicer to Nordland last week. It took seven hours to move the building 17 miles.

Last week, contractors moved the old fellowship hall from Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church, near Spicer, to its new home at Nordland Lutheran Church, which is located in Irving Township a couple of miles southwest of Lake Koronis and a couple of miles southeast of Hawick.

The building was first scheduled to be moved in late January, but sub-zero temperatures forced movers to reschedule. The building was moved to Nordland on Monday, Feb 2, the last day it could be moved because MnDOT closed a bridge on Highway 23 between Spicer and New London.

For the time being, the building will sit near the west end of the Nordland parking lot. It will become a permanent part of the church in spring.

Nordland began looking for a way to manage its space crunch ten years ago. The fellowship hall in the basement was too small for large gatherings, the kitchen was small and inefficient, more classroom space was needed for Sunday School, and some thought that the pastor - whose office is currently on the second floor - should have an office on the first floor, said Steve Wright, congregation president and building committee chairman.

In 1994, an expansion plan was drafted. The expansion would have given the church more than enough space, said Wright, but the original price of the expansion was about $1.7 million. Even when the church council whittled the cost down to about $500,000, the expansion was still out of reach. The plan was shelved and enthusiasm for the project waned.

About three years ago, a new building committee scaled back the original plan to make it more manageable, said Wright. The new plan, which included a full kitchen, an expanded fellowship hall, restrooms in the basement, main floor offices, and new classrooms was estimated at $290,000.

To raise money for the building fund, the committee sponsored fundraising meals, asked for donations, and sold t-shirts. With enthusiasm for the new building project picking up, the building fund grew to about $175,000, but there was still a long way to go, said Wright.

In December, Wright read about the church in Spicer, he said. Our Lady of the Lakes Church was forced to move and build a new church when the Highway 23 expansion project began in the Spicer area. The lot was sold to MnDOT and the buildings were offered at a public auction. Divided into three sections, two parts of the church had already been moved, but the fellowship hall was still available and needed to be moved soon.

Wright told other members of the building committee about the building. "I'm sure they thought I was crazy," said Wright. But they looked at the building and agreed that it could be just what the church needed, and the congregation could afford it.

Looking outside Wright estimated that it will cost about $176,000 - to purchase the building, to move it, to re-roof it, and to build a new basement under it. The church's building fund held almost exactly that amount. Because of the need to move quickly the plan was brought up and approved by the congregation during its annual meeting last December.

Church members watch as the new building is moved onto Nordland's property on Monday, Feb. 2.

"I think this is a great idea," said Pastor Keith Ainsley. "Nordland people are more excited now than they've been since I came to the church," he added.

Ainsley believes his congregation will get even more excited now that the building is sitting in the parking lot. He expects support for the project to skyrocket.

When the weather warms this spring, a basement will be built and the building will be moved to its permanent location, east of the main church and south of the current education wing.

The new addition, which should be in place by this summer, will be attached to the church on the lower level and on the main level by breezeways and will provide space for gatherings with a new kitchen and restrooms, as well as office space on the main level. The new addition will also have an unfinished basement that could be used for youth activities, said Wright.

The building committee still needs to raise money for equiping a kitchen. Finishing the basement and making cosmetic changes can be completed later, according to Wright. Some members of the congregation believe the building is the answer to their prayers and perhaps the reason early expansion efforts never seemed to work out, said Ainsley.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community