New Building Committee

The New Building Committee (NBC) was established by the Congregation Council in October 2014 to plan and make recommendations for the future home of First Lutheran Church after the fire. Members of the committee and their areas of focus are:

  • Bruce Whitman, chair
  • Paul Baumgartner: facility sharing and associate outside ministries
  • Michelle Bremke: communication and fine arts
  • Lori Gale: kitchen
  • Marcia Geary: education and fine arts
  • Kris Kretzmann: administration and auxiliary facility concerns
  • Pastor Jimmy Madsen
  • Sue Perry: outreach, fellowship, and recreation
  • Pastor Rosy Rivera
  • Brian Wentzel: worship


Design Team

If you have ideas, comments, or questions about the process, you can email chair Bruce Whitman or communications specialist Michelle Bremke. You can also contact the church office which will forward your message to the appropriate person.



Photos of the construction work in progress are posted regularly on the New Building page. They are also available on our Facebook page.


Wednesday, 8/16/17

Today we heard reports on: stained glass; recognizing donors; paver donations; office furniture; kitchen supplies; and phone systems. We are still waiting for revised dates now that the sprinkler permit has gone through.


Wednesday, 7/18/17

The NBC met tonight with a small summer crowd. To begin the meeting we reviewed the new building Vision Statement, and thought about how we have done at letting that guide our work. We only got through the first half, but were inspired again by the lofty goals the church has embraced.

We heard updates on furniture purchasing, stained glass design, the Vigil garden, and the liturgical furniture.

A disappointing item: we are waiting for a permit review on the sprinkler system in the sanctuary. This has caused a delay, and we’re now looking at mid-November for the building being finished.

We are also tracking the budget closely as the project nears completion. Current estimates show that we'll need about $15,000 additional donations over our original estimate. There are still a few moving parts, but the committee is feeling good about where we are.


Wednesday, 6/14/17

Another good NBC meeting today. After a devotion by Marcia on fellowship, we talked about: signage; furniture; stained glass; vigil garden; paver donations; recognizing donors; FF&E; and kitchen supplies.


Wednesday, 5/24/17

The NBC was happy to welcome Pastor Rosy to today's meeting! As usual, we heard reports on construction progress, budget, and committee work.

We have received some donations of children's tables for the classrooms, and cooking supplies for the kitchen. There will be opportunities coming up to donate classroom and kitchen supplies, and we're still counting on another $29,000 in donations to meet our goal.

Brian spent the last month shopping for a piano, and made a recommendation, which the committee accepted.


Wednesday, 4/19/17

The NBC's meetings are becoming routine by now! Bruce updated us on the latest construction progress, and committee members shared progress in their areas of work. We reviewed the project budget, which looks good with just six months to go.


Wednesday, 2/15/17

The NBC had its regular meeting tonight. Bruce gave an overview of where we are in the construction process. Some design details that are currently in process include: the fireplace; the exterior cross; the sanctuary platform; lighting fixtures in the gathering space. Some activities that should be happening soon include: putting up trusses in the worship space; starting to frame the walls in the education wing; beginning work on improving the alleys.

Marcia and Michelle gave a report on Fine Arts activities. The initial design on our stained glass window has started, and design has also begun on the fabric art for the east wall of the sanctuary. Additionally, the committee is close to selecting a copper artist for panels which will go on the main sanctuary doors.

Other discussions included: A/V in the sanctuary; how to accommodate kneeling; dedication events; furniture purchasing; budget; and signage.


Wednesday, 1/11/17

This was our first regular meeting in a while, due to the busyness over the holiday season. Bruce started by filling in the group on some of the details of the construction process, including: meetings, RFIs, submittals, change requests, construction bulletins, schedules, pay applications, and more!

We had an update on the South wall situation. The insurance companies are still investigating. The most we should have to pay is our deductible. Thomas & Marker is hopeful that the schedule will not be affected.

There some reports from subcommittees, but much of the rest of the meeting was spent going over the budget. Bruce has been working on pulling all the numbers together and had a fairly complete spreadsheet to share with the group. We are still well on track at this point.


Wednesday, 1/4/17

Last week, sometime between 4:00 Friday and noon Saturday, part of the South wall of our new building fell down. As you can imagine, this was the main point of discussion at our bi-weekly construction meeting this morning. Here's a summary:
  • It is not known for sure why the wall fell, but it is likely that strong winds were the culprit.
  • This past week at least three insurance agencies (for FLC, the mason, and the construction manager) were evaluating the damage.
  • It is likely that insurance will cover most or all of the extra costs involved. We may have to pay our deductible, which is not large.
  • The construction managers are hopeful that the schedule won't be affected much. The sanctuary (which the wall was a part of) was scheduled to be finished before the rest of the building anyway, and that particular part of the wall does not hold up the roof trusses, which is the next step.
  • Bruce, Jimmy, Sue, and Brian were at the meeting and are happy to discuss this further with anyone.


Sunday, 11/20/16

Today Cindy Kessler visited with us. After worship she shared her philosophy of designing stained glass windows, talked about the process, and shared pictures of some of her previous work. After lunch, the Fine Arts Committee met further with her to discuss ideas for our new windows. They are likely to be ready sometime in 2018.


Wednesday, 10/12/16

At our regular meeting, Bruce updated the group about the first construction meeting, which was held yesterday. This meeting involved representatives of the architect, the construction manager, and the church, and also some of the subcontractors. These meetings will be held about every two weeks from now on as construction progresses. Subcontractors present included Satelight from Vermilion (electric), Esser from Elyria (plumbing), and Bay from Lorain (mechanical).

The current timeline shows a "dried-in" date (when the building is fully weather-proof) of December 29. The current estimate for "substantial completion" and occupancy is August 9, 2017. These are still, of course, dependent on the weather.

The Fine Arts subcommittee recommended we commission Kessler Studios of Cincinnati to create our stained glass windows. The NBC agreed, and we tentatively planned to introduce the artists to the congregation on November 20.


Wednesday, 9/21/16

The NBC met tonight. After a devotion, we spent most of the meeting reviewing what has been happening. Bruce spent quite a while going over the latest budget numbers. We are starting to get solid bid numbers, and right now we are estimating that we are about $4,000 in the black. We are still carrying about $320,000 of contingencies. And the canopy and cupola are included in these numbers! The committee breathed a sigh of relief, and applauded Bruce for all his effort on this.

Other reports included a review of the FF&E budget (these are basically the items the church is purchasing on its own, rather than through the contractor), and a report on materials and colors.


Wednesday, 8/10/16

The NBC had our regular monthly meeting today. Much of the work at this point is being done in smaller groups and by our design team. We heard updates on finishes, seating, liturgical furniture, fundraising, contents, kitchen, shed, construction, and service programs.

The other half of the meeting was spent focusing on budget issues. We continue to refine budget estimates with the help of our construction manager. The construction is planned to go out for bid by the end of the month; at that point we should have enough clarity to make any final decisions that need to be made.


Tuesday, 7/19/16

Here are some new renderings of the new church!
From the North:
From the South:
More pictures are on our Facebook page.


Tuesday, 7/12/16

Our architect was in town again today, to meet with the Lorain design review board. Good news - the board gave its approval!

Paul met with the NBC in the evening. Everything is still on schedule (see dates below under 6/15/16). Much work is happening in smaller subgroups right now, including kitchen, interior materials, worship space, etc.

The committee looks forward to answering questions at Sunday's forum, and to groundbreaking on the 24th!


Monday, 6/20/16

Tonight Council set a groundbreaking date: July 24. This is a Sunday, and we'll plan to go over to the new site after worship, with the groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for 11:00am.


Sunday, 6/19/16

The NBC has added one more way for congregation members to give their input. Woody Chamberlain has agreed to be a confidential liaison. If for any reason a member is uncomfortable giving their comments to the committee directly, he or she can talk to Woody, who will pass along the comment to the NBC. NBC members are always open to hearing questions, comments, and concerns, but this is one more way that your voice can be heard.


Thursday, 6/16/16

Below are some images of the current design! Keep in mind that things are still somewhat in flux, and some elements in the images (such as the drop-off canopy and the cupola) are not currently included in the budget. See the entry for 6/15/16 for more details.





Wednesday, 6/15/16

The NBC had another good meeting tonight. We were all on our best behavior for John Baumgartner, who is beginning his privately-funded documentary of our rebuilding process!

Another phase of the project is coming to a close. After months of going back and forth between architect and construction manager, trying to reconcile our program and our available funds, we have finally reached an equilibrium point. There will still be some changes as construction documents are prepared and bids come in, but we are no longer in the position of needing to make cuts. Some key budget numbers:

  • total project estimate: $7.873 million
  • total "contingencies" included in the above: $533,000 (this is money that is not currently allocated for anything, but provides a cushion for unexpected expenses)
  • total estimated shortfall (if all contingency money is used): $56,000

The committee feels very comfortable with these numbers. We hope that much of the uncertainty and contingencies will be gone by fall when the bids are in and the building is above ground.

There remain a number of design elements that are still in limbo. The following are not included in the above budget estimates, but some may be able to be added back in to the project 1) if we're fortunate on contingencies, 2) if donations are higher than expected, or 3) at some later date:

  • drop-off canopy by front door
  • cupola at the center of the building
  • art glass for the four high windows on the East wall of the worship space (these are currently budgeted to be designed but not yet built)
  • an AV system for the fellowship hall
  • purchasing additional property

The NBC has taken deep consideration in making these cuts, and relied on the Vision Statement and Program Statement, developed with congregational input, to help guide our decisions.

Also at this meeting we received the first provisional schedule from our construction managers. Some relevant (provisional!) dates are:

  • groundbreaking: can happen any time after we formally own the land (which should be within the next few weeks)
  • bidding for site/foundation work: begins June 24
  • site work begins: July 25
  • general bidding begins: August 22
  • contracts awarded by: September 19
  • construction is estimated to take about a year from when the general contracts are awarded (this will depend greatly on the weather)

Other discussion included updates on fundraising, kitchen, liturgical furniture, organ, and landscaping, and discussion on how to continue improving our communication with the congregation.


Sunday, 6/12/16

Thanks to all who stayed after worship today for the forum. As Bruce mentioned, we are currently focusing on ensuring the project is within our budget and meets all statutory requirements. Below are some updated site and floor plans (for full details download the pdfs: site planfloor plan). These incorporate the budget reductions that have been implemented to this point. They also show the water retention area on the north of the lot, which is a city requirement. You can compare these to the ones from March 10 below.




Wednesday, 5/11/16

Bruce came prepared with a spreadsheet detailing all the financial figures involved in this complicated project. After reviewing these figures, the committee decided on some cuts to be made to the current design. None of these were things we wanted to do, and it's possible that some may be able to be added back in later. With these proposed cuts, we think we are back to a comfortable budget situation. Next will be another round of architect's re-drawing based on the cuts, and construction manager's cost estimating based on the drawings.

Other items discussed included an update on fundraising plans and planning for a congregational forum likely to be held in June.


Tuesday, 5/10/16

Our architect was in town today to meet with the city design board. Good news: the basic building and site design were approved! There will still be plenty of approvals needed in the future, but this represents one more step along the road.

The NBC met with him in the evening. Along with various updates about the project (including a stormwater detention requirement that will cause us to reconfigure some parking) we spent a lot of time on the budget. Budget estimates for the current design are still higher than we would like, and the committee spent long hours weighing various options for reducing costs. This discussion was continued the following day.


Wednesday, 4/13/16

The NBC met briefly this evening to go over more choices for exterior materials. The committee discussed options sent over by our architect, who will then submit these to the city design review board.


Wednesday, 4/6/16

The city zoning board approved our conditional use request this morning. Any non-residential use of our new property required permission from the city, and we now have the go-ahead to build a church there!


Tuesday, 4/5/16

The NBC had another long and productive meeting tonight. Paul, our architect, is in town for a zoning meeting with the city on Wednesday, and it was a pleasure to have him with us physically and not just electronically!

Most of the time was spent going over the latest design documents - lots of detail has been added since the congregational presentation, and a few things have moved around based on discussions with engineers and congregational feedback. The next budget review should happen within a week, and assuming we're still on track, these new images will be posted here soon.

The committee was also excited to begin selecting materials! Paul brought in over a dozen brick samples from a place in Westlake. The committee easily picked a favorite, and Paul will make suggestions for complementary materials. Exterior plans and details are due to the city design review board by mid-April.


Monday, 3/14/16

Here are the two animations our architect showed us at the presentation. These give a nice 3-D sense of the conceptual design.


Sunday, 3/13/16

This morning the congregation overwhelmingly voted to support a motion "to approve the plans for the new building." The NBC is grateful for all the thoughtful questions and the vote of confidence! Some more of the visuals from the presentation will be posted here in the new few days.


Friday, 3/11/16

We now have two 3-D renderings available to give you a sense of what the building might look like. Click here for a full-size pdf. Again, keep in mind that much of this is still conceptual. The different colors, for instance, represent where different materials or textures might be, but those materials have not yet been selected. All the furniture pictured are placeholders rather than finished designs. But it's still a real treat to see! More views and much more explanation will come from our architect at Sunday's meeting.




Thursday, 3/10/16

This just in - conceptual site plan and floor plans! Click here for a full-size pdf. Please keep in mind that this is still conceptual: plenty of decisions have yet to be made, and plenty of what you see on the drawings are placeholders. Paul, and our architect, will walk us through these plans on Sunday after worship. The 3-D renderings will hopefully be posted here late this evening or early tomorrow.

Q:First Evangelical Lutheran Church - Lorain OH�5-Drawings2-C



Tuesday, 3/8/16

The NBC met tonight, with most of our design team present via web conference. The main topic of discussion was budgeting. Our construction managers had priced out the initial plans, and estimated we were over budget by about 9%. This was not unexpected, and our architect walked us through some plans to reduce the square footage in various areas to get the budget back down to a number we were comfortable with. We want to make sure the plans presented to the congregation on Sunday are buildable with the funds we have!

The committee also spent time discussion ongoing communication with congregation members, with the goal of ensuring that the project continues to be open to feedback and insights from the congregation while still moving forward quickly. We hope to have a floor plan and a few 3-D renderings up on this site by Thursday for review prior to Sunday's meeting.


Monday, 2/29/16

Tonight the NBC shared the visuals from our 2/23 meeting with the Congregation Council. The Council unanimously approved a motion "to approve the plans for the new building." We look forward to sharing these plans with the congregation in less than two weeks!


Tuesday, 2/23/16

Today the NBC met, with our architect, liturgical consultant, and construction manager present via web conference. Things are really moving along now! The architect reviewed the current plans with us. They now include a site plan, floor plan, and elevations (heights and roof slopes). We even got to see a few 3-D perspectives of the building exterior and the worship space (though still without much detail)! The committee is very please with the direction things are heading.

The next step is for our construction managers to work with these plans and figure out approximately how much they would cost to build. We will meet again after that to adjust the plans accordingly. The plans are still very much in flux right now, but after the budget confirmation, we should have something to share with the congregation prior to the March 13 congregation meeting. At that meeting, our architect and liturgical consultant will be with us to present the plans, and the congregation will vote on whether to accept them.


Thursday, 2/4/16

Our three day charrette was a great success! There was lots of energy and camaraderie in First Congregational's basement as our design team gathered together to take the first concrete steps in the designing of our new building. They met from Tuesday morning through Thursday afternoon, which included sessions with church staff, the NBC, and city building officials. Lots of ideas and directions came out of the meetings and interactions. Some preliminary decisions include:

  • an East-West oriented building, with parking on the north;
  • the worship space located at the Southeast of the building with a North-South axis;
  • lots of glass and openness in the gathering area, which will connect to the parking lot, worship space, kitchen/dining area, and an inviting walk-in entrance off of Sixth St.

Much of the outcome of the charrette is stored in our design team's brains, and on many sheets of scribbled-upon paper! Over the next three weeks the architect will refine and elaborate those ideas and present a more finished initial plan to the NBC. The design will be further refined based on the NBC's input, and then presented to the congregation at a meeting after worship on March 13.


Wednesday, 1/27/16

The NBC has been hard at work revising and collating our program statements into one document which will guide the professionals during the charrette. You can read all 44 pages here.


Wednesday, 1/20/16 - FLC to Purchase Site B!

The NBC has entered into an agreement with the Board of Education of Lorain City Schools to purchase the former parking lot of Lorain High School, which will be the location for First Lutheran's new church building. The purchase of this site was approved by the congregation in August upon recommendation of the Council and under the advice of our architect and other consultants.

The land is on the block bounded on the east by Washington Ave., on the south by Sixth St., on the west by Hamilton Ave., and on the north by Fifth St. It is in the shape of a squat "T," with access to all of the above roads except Washington. This land was formerly the parking lot for Lorain High when that was on the site now occupied by Admiral King Elementary. The church has established a limited budget for acquiring adjoining properties and has hired a local research entity and real estate consultant to examine them. Within a few weeks we will reach out to a few of these property owners to gauge their interest. The potential purchase of these properties will be dependent upon availability of funds.

This piece of land is about twice as large as our old site, and will allow the new church building to be all on one level and to have plenty of parking. At the same time, our ministries will stay right in downtown Lorain, preserving the relationships we have built over many years. Planning for the new building continues, with assessments of the land (for gas wells or other hazards) already in process and the first design session with our architect and other professionals scheduled for early February.



Wednesday, 1/13/16

The NBC had its regular monthly meeting in the evening. After a devotion, we received some updates on ongoing financial matters.

We spent a while talking about property acquisition. We have made an offer on our desired property, and are waiting to see if our offer is accepted.

The last part of the meeting was spent discussing the upcoming design charrette. A charrette is "an intense period of design or planning activity." All of our professional design team (listed above) will be in Lorain February 2-4; by the end of the charrette the basic design of our new building should be set. It was emphasized that we should gather together as much input as we can by the end of January. Committee members are working on finalizing their program statements by this time.


Wednesday, 1/13/16

Today the New Building Committee took the next step in acquiring the property we've been calling "Site B." We are one step closer to acquiring the property, but there are still a few formalities to go through before we can actually purchase the property and publicly announce its location. We hope this will happen in early to mid February. First Lutheran members can find out more details in worship on Sunday or by talking to an NBC member.


Wednesday, 12/16/15

The NBC had our regular monthly meeting today. We heard reports about stained glass valuation, donations, and property acquisition. There were continued discussions about how best to encourage and recognize donors, and details of the property acquisition process.


Monday, 12/7/15

The NBC has continued to work on acquiring our desired property. We were happy to receive confirmation today that the opportunity to purchase it will occur in mid January.


Wednesday, 10/14/15

At tonight's NBC meeting we spent most of our time on site and fundraising. The latest news on the site is that it will probably be at least January before we will be able to acquire the property. In the meantime, the committee is working on other tasks, including a plan for raising funds to cover the small amount of the new building budget that is not covered by insurance.


Tuesday, 9/23/15

Last week the organ contract was signed! You can read more about our new organ here.


Monday, 9/22/15

Tonight the Council discussed some funding details for the new building project. The Council began discussion on identifying current funds that may be available for the project, and also approved using donated funds for property acquisition.


Wednesday, 9/16/15

The NBC had its regular meeting tonight. We began with discussion centered around details of budget and fundraising. The other main topic of the evening was an update on the property acquisition process. This is proceeding at about the pace we anticipated, but there are no major changes in status to report.


Sunday, 9/6/15

This morning the congregation again overwhelmingly showed its support for the continued work of the NBC and the Council. A budget for the new building project of just under $7.7 million was passed at a special congregation meeting.


Monday, 8/17/15

At a busy Council meeting tonight, the NBC's proposed budget was approved. The Council also set a special congregation meeting for September 6 after worship, at which the congregation will vote on the budget. All First Lutheran members will be receiving a mailing with more details.


Wednesday, 8/12/15

Much of the NBC's regular meeting tonight was focused on budget issues. Based on the structure of our insurance settlement, and projection of donations, the committee approved a "top-line" budget to send to Council and the congregation. This breaks expenses down into the categories of: building; organ; contents; and property acquisition. Income is broken down into: insurance; existing church funds; current and future donations. Because of the way the insurance is structured, we anticipate the need for some fundraising. We do not anticipate having to borrow any funds.

There will be a Fourth Sunday Forum on August 23 during which the committee will introduce details of the budget to the congregation.

The process of property acquisition has begun, but could take a while.


Sunday, 8/9/15

Despite a power outage, our congregation meeting was held as scheduled. After about an hour of spirited comments from members, the congregation voted to approve the Council and NBC's recommendation to purchase property and rebuild on "site B." The NBC will now begin due diligence and negotiation for the purchase of the property. Once the property is acquired, the location of the new site will be revealed to the public.


Monday, 7/20/15

The Congregation Council tonight approved the NBC's recommendation to purchase property for a new building. A special congregation meeting has been set for August 9 for the congregation to vote on this. The question of location has been in the front of many of our minds over the last few months, and the NBC is happy to finally have a recommendation. More details on the proposal have been sent to all First Lutheran members by mail.


Wednesday, 7/15/15

The NBC had its regularly monthly meeting tonight. We touched on program, schedule, and budget issues, but the main discussion was about site. Our architect had prepared three general site layout ideas for the other downtown site, both for an initial phase and possible future expansion. We discussed pros and cons of the various options, and agreed that this site is the best option for the church. A motion to purchase this property has been sent to the Congregation Council for their discussion this coming Monday. If they approve it, the congregation will vote on the issue at a special meeting to be called sometime in August.


Sunday, 6/28/15

Among other business at our annual congregation budget meeting today, the following new building actions were taken:

  • The motion to acquire Cornell Place was defeated at the recommendation of the NBC.
  • Paul Fritts & Co. was approved to build a new organ for our new building.


Saturday, 6/27/15

Today a congregation workshop on the new building was held from 10:00-3:00 at First Congregational. Paul Barribeau and Robert Habiger led the discussion, which centered on program and site. You can read the notes from the meeting.


Thursday, 6/25/15

Paul Barribeau was in Lorain for this NBC meeting. We spent most of the time talking about program and site. The program square foot area is now down to 23,500, and we talked quite a bit about the changes that had been made, with committee members responding to the changes and suggesting further alterations. The other big discussion was on sites. Paul had some more information for us, which led to the conclusion that our existing site is not a viable option for the program as it stands. The committee agreed that the next step is to explore the viability of the other downtown site.


Monday, 6/15/15

The Congregation Council tonight approved the NBC "recommendation that First Lutheran Church acquire Cornell Place." The congregation itself is the only entity that can acquire property on behalf of the church, so this item will be on the congregation meeting agenda on June 28. More details about this possibility will also be presented then, as well as at the June 27 workshop.


Wednesday, 6/10/15

Our architect Paul Barribeau was present at the NBC's regular meeting for a kickoff of the next phase of our building project. It was quite exciting to start seeing hard numbers and dates, and to have his expertise guiding us. Robert Habiger and representatives from Thomas & Marker were present electronically.

Items discussed included:

  • Schedule: Paul passed out a preliminary schedule. Important dates include: decision on a site, program, and budget by end of July; preliminary site layout and floor plans by early September; groundbreaking in March 2016, with construction to take no more than 12 months. These dates are obviously very much subject to change at this point.
  • Budget: Using available insurance funds and donations, Paul estimates we can afford a building between 16,500 and 20,500 square feet. He estimates that our previous building was of a similar size.
  • Site: Paul presented zoning, ordinance, and code information for the various sites we are currently considering. Given this new information, the NBC continues to feel confident in moving forward with planning for the existing site. A motion regarding sites was passed and will be discussed at the Congregation Council meeting on Monday.
  • Program: Based on Paul's reading of the NBC's initial written program statements, our dreams add up to a 39,500 square foot building! The next step is to work on consolidating this program (eliminating/combining areas, providing for multi-use spaces) in order to bring it down to within our budget.

The congregation is strongly encouraged to attend the June 27 workshop (see description below), where these items will be discussed in greater detail.


Monday, 6/6/15

A new building workshop will be held on Saturday, June 27 from 10:00am-3:00pm at First Congregational Church. In the morning there will be a presentation of the NBC's proposed "program" for the new building (needs, desires, and dreams). In the afternoon we will discuss how our various site options would affect the program and the shape of the building. Our architect and liturgical consultant will both be present, and lunch will be provided. This will be one of the final steps before actual design of the building begins, and your presence is eagerly desired.


Monday, 5/18/15

Tonight the Council approved two recommendations from the NBC:

  • that Paul Fritts & Co. build an organ for our new building (the congregation will have a chance to vote on this on June 28); and
  • that we engage the law firm of Thompson Hine for the duration of the new building process. We will engage one of their attorneys who is an expert in construction and contract law.


Sunday, 5/17/15

This morning the congregation voted unanimously to hire Groth Design Group as architect for our new building. The NBC thanks the congregation for their confidence and support of our work!


Wednesday, 5/13/15

The NBC had its regular meeting tonight. The organ committee was pleased to make a recommendation for an organbuilder. This recommendation will go next to Council on Monday, and then to the congregation for approval.

We talked briefly about site selection. We plan to continue to gather information, specifically by having our architect do site evaluations of both downtown sites.

The monthly forum for May has been moved to the fifth Sunday, May 31. We will talk some more about the worship space in our new building.

Other topics of discussion included:

  • retaining a contract attorney
  • timeline for the new few months
  • how to finish and merge our program statements for various aspects of the new building
  • preliminary budget numbers


Sunday, 4/26/15

Today after worship the Fourth Sunday Forum was a discussion about the site for our new building. You can read some notes on the conversation here.


Monday, 4/20/15

First Lutheran's Congregation Council met tonight and, among other business, approved three recommendations from the NBC for members of our design team.

The Council approved hiring BAI of Austin, TX, as our acoustical consultant. Richard Boner, Vice President of the firm with over 40 years of experience, will be our principal consultant.

The Council approved hiring Thomas & Marker of Columbus, OH as construction manager. They will handle details of bidding and hiring contractors, and will help to ensure we stay on budget.

The Council recommended that the congregation hire Groth Design Group of Milwaukee, WI as architect. Mike Groth (owner) and Paul Barribeau (project manager) made a dynamic presentation to the NBC on Saturday. They have a strong church focus (over 200 projects) and a strong Lutheran focus (Paul is an ordained ELCA pastor; about half of their church projects are Lutheran). They emphasize working as a team with the congregation and other professionals, "green" building, and keeping costs under control. You can see pictures of some of their recent projects here.

A special meeting of the congregation was called for Sunday, May 17, following the worship service. At this meeting the congregation will vote on whether to hire GDG as architect.


Saturday, 4/18/15

The NBC conducted our final two architect interviews this morning and afternoon. We had great conversations with all three, and any of them would be able to build us a wonderful church. But in our conversation after the interviews, it was clear to the committee which of the three would be the best for First Lutheran. The NBC will make a recommendation to Council on Monday. If Council approves, the congregation will have the opportunity to hear more about this architect. As with all major decisions, the congregation will ultimately make the decision via a vote.


Wednesday, 4/15/15

The NBC had another long meeting tonight, this time at the Port Authority building at Black River Landing. The first hour was spent in discussion with Leon Mason, Director of Building, Housing, and Planning for the City of Lorain, and with Jim Long, Chairman of Lorain Growth Corporation. They were each eager to share ideas and plans for the future of Lorain.

The NBC forwarded to the Congregation Council recommendations for Construction Manager and Acoustical Consultant to be considered at the Council meeting this coming Monday.

The meeting ended with a long discussion about site selection. Bruce and Jimmy had each written position papers, one outlining the main arguments for staying downtown, and one outlining the main arguments for moving elsewhere. The discussion that followed was spirited, and although the NBC is not ready at this point to make a public statement or recommendation, the group does seem to be honing in on one direction even while realizing that none of our current options is perfect. If you're interested in hearing more about this discussion, talk with any of the NBC members.


Saturday, 4/11/15

This morning the NBC had our first architect interview. We were all quite impressed, and look forward to more interviews next Saturday. Our liturgical consultant Robert Habiger is in town for the interview, and he is also meeting with the Fine Arts subcommittee and individual NBC members while he's here.


Monday, 3/16/15

Tonight the Congregation Council approved hiring Robert Habiger as liturgical consultant for our new building project. Mr. Hagiber has been involved in the design of over 150 churches over 40 years. He is focused on listening and collaboration, and will help us translate our unique dreams, goals, and history into language that an architect can understand. He will be a source of information on best practices, and will help to keep us from making stupid mistakes!

As a member of our design team (see below, 3/11/15) he will involved with the design of our new building, and will ensure that our worship remains a priority throughout the process. You can see some examples of his work here.


Sunday, 3/15/15

This morning the congregation unanimously approved allocating some funds for the NBC to use for consultants and planning. The NBC appreciates the support of the congregation and is eager to move on to this next phase of consulting and more detailed planning.


Wednesday, 3/11/15

NBC members stayed after our Lenten activities at Redeemer for a late night meeting. Things are starting to come together, and tonight's meeting felt very productive. Most of our time was spent talking about the design team and about site selection.

At this point our plan is to have a design team of architect, liturgical consultant, acoustician, organbuilder, and construction manager. These professionals will work together with us to design our new church. Tonight the NBC decided on a liturgical consultant (to be approved by Council on Monday), set tentative dates for architect interviews, and discussed the progress on selecting the other members of the design team.

We also spent quite a while talking about how to select a site. Some members of the committee have been assigned to investigate practical matters (assessments, costs, etc.) and others have been assigned to investigate the big picture (how do various site options fit with our vision?). The NBC will continue to discuss this topic over email, and the Fourth Sunday Forum on 3/22 will be an opportunity for congregation members to give input.


Sunday, 3/8/15

This morning the First Lutheran congregation voted overwhelmingly to build a new building (the exact wording of the motion is below in the note from 2/16/15). A site and budget have not yet been determined. These will be among the issues the NBC will be working on over the next few months.


Sunday, 3/1/15

Another special congregation meeting has been called: for March 15 after worship. At this meeting the congregation will vote on a proposal to allocate some funds for the NBC to use for planning and hiring consultants.

We hope you don't mind all the special meetings! They are inevitable given: 1) the fact that the congregation has the final say on all major decisions; 2) there are "notice of meeting" requirements in our constitution; and 3) the NBC is trying to avoid unnecessary delay and so is sending items to the congregation for a vote as soon as we have recommendations. All these meetings are also tangible demonstrations that this project belongs to the whole church, not just to our leaders.


Sunday, 2/22/15

A forum was held this morning on worship space. You can read about it here.


Monday, 2/16/15

At the Congregation Council meeting tonight, the following motions passed:

It is recommended that the Congregation Council make available all monies received from insurance proceeds and all donations for rebuilding for use by the New Building Committee to prepare its budget.
The congregation will have the final say on how much money to spend on the building project by means of a vote on a Rebuilding Budget. This motion expresses the Council's support for the NBC's consideration of all the insurance proceeds and donations as it begins to create the Rebuilding Budget.

It is recommended by the New Building Committee and the Congregation Council that First Evangelical Lutheran Church rebuild by means of constructing a new building.
This motion specifies building new rather than buying an existing building, but leaves the location yet to be determined. Again, the congregation will have the final vote on this matter, and a special congregation meeting has been called for March 8 at 11:15am for this purpose.


Sunday, 2/15/15

Sue Perry gave the five-minute update after worship today. She noted that over 100 people have already been actively involved in our process! This is wonderful, and speaks well of the dedication and responsibility of First Lutheran members.


Saturday, 2/14/15

The Worship Space Working Group took a second trip to visit new churches on Valentine's Day. You can read Brian's report, with pictures.


Wednesday, 2/11/15

The NBC had its regular monthly meeting tonight. We started by meditating on part of the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. After the devotion we discussed some financial aspects of the project and the upcoming schedule of forums and congregation meetings. We continued our work on initial screening of the design team. Brian shared a New Organ FAQ to update the group on the progress of the organ committee. Finally, we worked on a motion to be discussed at the Council meeting on Monday.


Sunday, 2/8/15

At a special congregation meeting today, First Lutheran members voted overwhelmingly to affirm the Vision Statement created by the NBC. There were a few amendments to the original text based on congregation input at the 1/25/15 forum. Before the vote, Bruce gave an emotional and inspiring talk, sharing his excitement and vision for a new building for FLC. Marcia Geary's introduction to the Vision Statement given on January 25 is also available.


Saturday, 1/31/15

The Worship Space Working Group is a subcommittee of the NBC, tasked with forming recommendations for the sanctuary, narthex, sacristry, and vestry of a new worship space. Members of this group, along with NBC members and other friends, traveled to see some new and newly-renovated spaces on Saturday. Brian is heading up the WSWG, and wrote up a report with pictures.


Monday, 1/19/15

At their regular meeting tonight, the Congregation Council approved the Vision Statement created by the NBC. A special congregation meeting will be held on February 8 for a congregation vote on the Vision Statement.


Sunday, 1/18/15

Today at First Lutheran's congregation meeting, the following motion was passed: Whereas: the structures at 603 Washington Ave. have been severely damaged by fire and water, and Whereas: per expert opinion, there is no reasonable means to salvage these structures without incurring significant risk of liability, therefore Be it resolved: the congregation of First Lutheran approves that these structures be completely demolished and the lots be put into a safe condition, and awards contract to low bidder ... Our Internal Project Liaisons and the Congregation Council will begin work immediately to carry this out, and expect that the demolition should be finished in 1-2 months. You can also read Bruce's report.


Wednesday, 1/14/15

Since our meeting on 12/17, the NBC has been working over email to create a more detailed and specific vision statement incorporating what we learned from the 12/14 forum and our brainstorming on 12/17. Bruce wrote up an initial draft, which committee members then commented on electronically. Bruce compiled all our comments, and today we spent three hours going through the document line by line. By the end of the evening, we had consolidated a two-page list into what we hope is an exciting, motivating vision for First Lutheran after the fire. The Congregation Council will review the vision on 1/19, and if they pass it, the congregation will vote on it at a special congregation meeting to be called as soon as necessary.


Sunday, 1/11/15

Bruce visited Ada United Methodist Church last Thursday. That church also had a recent fire and are in the final stages of rebuilding. You can read his report about the visit here.


Sunday, 1/4/15

Bruce talked today about the most current timeline for our rebuilding project. It will almost certainly change, but it gives a sense of the process and of the committee's ambitious goals. You can download the handout with the timeline.


Sunday, 12/21/14

You can read Bruce's Sunday update, including seven ways to share your ideas with the NBC and feedback gathered after the service.


NBC meeting 12/17/14

Pastor Constance Garrett led this meeting, devoted mostly to questions of process - how will the NBC and the congregation move towards our goal? After a time of prayer, we started by setting ground rules for our NBC meetings - how to work together efficiently and respectfully.

The bulk of the meeting was spent identifying First Lutheran's core values. We reviewed the responses gathered at Sunday's forum and did some brainstorming. At the end of the process the core values of worship, sharing the gospel, and helping the poor had risen to the top - basically a re-affirmation of our Mission Statement! The next step will be to start work on a more specific vision statement that will guide our planning towards our future home.

We also talked quite a bit about how best to communicate our work and the process to the congregation. All agreed that Bruce would spend 5 minutes each Sunday at the end of worship updating the congregation. Frequent forums and more information on the website were also discussed, and the committee will work on a communication plan before the next meeting.


NBC meeting 11/26/14

The New Building Committee had its first meeting on Wednesday evening. There was excitement in the air as the members took the first small steps towards a new home for our church. The NBC's duties have been designated by the Congregation Council.

Chair Bruce Whitman had prepared a flowchart of paths needed to travel toward the first major goal: a New Building Master Plan, which will outline our needs and desires and will be given to our architect. The ambitious initial target is for this Master Plan to be ready by the middle of summer 2015. Each committee member was assigned areas of focus (such as education, worship, outreach, offices, etc.) around which to start gathering information, dreaming, and planning.

Parallel to this process, the congregation will undertake a visioning process to clarify our mission and goals. Connie Garrett, a former FLC member and specialist in strategic planning, will be with our congregation in December to help us begin this process. The visioning process, which will include opportunities to listen to each other, will hopefully be completed by Easter and will direct the New Building Committee's focus as it prepares the detailed Master Plan and the congregation as it makes decisions.

The regular meeting time for the New Building Committee will be the Wednesday before the third Monday of each month.