Opinion

Many hands help an Auburn church bring its dreams to reality

By MARK KLAAS

Auburn Reporter

Changing times, growing pains and good vision have one prominent Auburn church looking more like the Taj Mahal these days.

Once a modest house with limited arrangements, the Messiah Lutheran Church is sprouting with added space, glowing features and big plans.

The transformation of the large and long-established church comes courtesy of a hefty loan and donations from many private and public sources.

Call it a much-needed renovation, mid-section expansion or widespread facelift. Call it a $3.6 million project push that has done wonders for an aging church, which stands proudly on a block across from Auburn High School.

“It is something to see,” said Chris Englehart, a church member for 36 years. “It’s bringing new life to our congregation.

“I think we were sort of stagnant for quite awhile when the building was old and a lot of renovation we were trying to do was painting the wall here, painting the wall there,” Englehart added. “To have the congregation pull together and do this whole project has just breathed a lot of excitement into the church.”

The Englehart family is part of the church’s heritage. Chris’ great-grandparents were original founding members of the church that opened for services in downtown Auburn back in 1924. His grandparents were on the committee that built the original and existing sanctuary in 1958, a place where Englehart was baptized.

On Sunday, Englehart will join others in ushering in a new chapter of the church – with the official dedication of a new fellowship hall and gathering place.

“I’m just in awe of it,” said Ervin Steinle, the church’s business manager and member of the congregation since 1941. “We want to have a facility that people can feel good about and comfortable with. And we have that.”

The work, which is being done by Wayne Gilthvedt and Summit Central Construction Inc., will be nearly complete come Sunday. The phase, which began last October, has produced new features and reconfigured the church’s floor plan to accommodate other changes. The church, in essence, was expanded 6,000 square feet to total of 29,000.

Some features:

• Overflow sanctuary room with a fireplace and big screen for sermons and teaching. Sky-lighting abounds throughout the new and open gathering area.

• Prayer chapel with antique pews and back-lit crucifix.

• New lighting in the sanctuary.

• New bathrooms, library and nursery area.

• Main espresso and coffee bar and a spacious kitchen equipped with a large freezer and rubberized floor.

• A new 250-seat Galli Hall theater with stage and sound booth for contemporary worship.

• Landscaping, new sidewalk, resealed parking lot, improved ramp-way access and playground area. Outside, a large crucifix adorns the front of the new gathering area.

Such an upgrade was necessary to serve a church of 900 strong. The changes were necessary to meet the needs of a diversified and demanding community at work.

And now that they have built it, the church hopes they will come.

“We have this new church that the Lord has blessed us with,” Englehart said, “and now we can take it and use it the way God wants us to use it.”

A new look

• Event: “Come Gather” – celebrating a new beginning in the established history of the Messiah Lutheran Church, 410 H St NE, Auburn.

• Program: Sunday, 9:30 a.m. service, official dedication of new hall at 11 a.m., followed by a catered luncheon until 1 p.m. Free to the pubic.

• Information: 253-833-5280.

Mark Klaas, Auburn Reporter editor, can be reached at 253-833-0218, ext. 5050, or mklaas@reporternewspapers.com.

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