Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - November 10, 2004

Nordland to dedicate church addition

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

A major addition to Nordland Lutheran Church is finished and will be dedicated on Sunday, Nov. 14. The rural congregation will host an open house for the public to see the addition on Sunday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Nordland Lutheran Church is located in Irving Township. To get to the church, take Highway 23 west from Paynesville for two miles, go south on the Tri-County Road for four miles, and turn west on 180th Avenue for another mile and a half.

The 7,300-sq.-ft. addition includes a fellowship hall with a full kitchen, offices, a library, restrooms, and classrooms. The large, finished basement area - complete with a kitchenette and its own restrooms - will be used by the church youth.

The addition nearly doubled the church's usable space.

nordland kitchen "It's a dream come true," said Pastor Keith Ainsley of the addition. Not only has the new addition provided much-needed space for the church, Ainsley believes the project brought the congregation together. He has even noticed more people at Sunday worship services since the project began.

The addition to Nordland Lutheran Church nearly doubled the church's space and includes a new ktichen in the fellowship hall. The added space also gives the church more offices, a library, classrooms, etc.

The addition to Nordland came from Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church near Spicer, which was forced to relocate due to the Highway 23 expansion. Last February, the social hall from the Spicer church was moved to the Nordland parking lot where it sat until spring. Throughout the summer and fall, work was done to put the addition in place and connect it to the existing church.

While the addition took less than a year to complete, Kathy Stefensen, a member of the Nordland building committee, considers it the culmination of a 10-year project. Nordland was looking for a way to expand for several years, said Stefensen. The existing social hall was too small for large gatherings, the kitchen was small and inefficient, the pastor and the church secretary needed more office space, and the church didn't have enough restrooms.

Since 1994, the church had formed three building committees and even had architectural plans drawn to build, but the money was never there, said Stefensen.

In 2003, the building committee was trying again to raise money for improvements when congregation president Steve Wright learned that the Spicer church was for sale.

While the original estimates were for it to cost $176,000 to purchase the building, move it, and make it part of the existing church, the total cost of the project ended at around $360,000, said Wright. Because the township's building code changed just before the project started, changes had to made to the project that raised the price, he added. For example, they had planned to leave the basement unfinished until later, but the building code required that it be wired and fire doors be installed, so the committee opted to finish it now.

In the end, Nordland paid $15,000 for the building, another $35,000 to move it, and the remainder on architectural fees, building a basement, roofing, wiring, siding, a new heating system for the whole church, and completing the kitchen and offices, including furnishings.

But the church still got a bargain, said Wright, who was told the building should be insured for at least $900,000, as that's what it would cost to build it from scratch.

Throughout the project, according to Stefensen, congregation members pitched in to get the work done. While much of the work was performed by contractors, a lot of work was done by Nordland members. Some painted, some did landscaping, and some cleaned up after contractors. Others worked on fundraisers and gave money toward the project. "I can't count all the volunteers," she said. "But it was well worth all the hours," she added.

The building committee worked tirelessly raising money for the project, too. They held dinners and other fundraisers, sold t-shirts, and made a lot of phone calls, said Stefensen. Donations came in steadily, said Wright, and in the end, the church only needed to borrow $35,000 for the project, most of which has already been pledged in donations, he said.

Some believe that finding the right building, at the right price, at the right time was divine intervention. "It was meant to be," said Stefensen.

Even the floor plan of the Spicer social hall was similar to Nordland's building plans, she added.

"You never know what God has planned," she said. She believes this could be why Nordland's previous attempts at expansion failed: God planned for Nordland to use the building from Our Lady of the Lakes all along.

Murlin Olson has been a member at Nordland for 83 years, his whole life. During that time, he has seen a lot of changes. In the 1950s, he was the general contractor when the church added a classroom addition. But this addition was the largest project the congregation has undertaken, he believes. "I think it's wonderful," said Olson. "It looks like it's always been there."

Congregation members will hold a blessing service for the addition on Sunday morning, including a singing processional from the sanctuary to the addition, where a celebration meal will be served.

The public is invited to the open house on Sunday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., where coffee and cake will be served.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community