January Worship Schedule

Beginning the first weekend in January: worship services will be held in the Carriage House, located directly behind the First Lutheran building. You are welcome (and encouraged) to park in the FLC parking lot. Please consider leaving the parking spaces in the alley available for those with mobility concerns. The Saturday evening service returns at 5:00 p.m. (also in the Carriage House), and we are offering two Sunday morning services at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m.  Sunday morning education programs (Orange, confirmation, and Adult Forum) resume at 9:50 a.m. in their usual spaces in the education wing of the FLC building.

January Worship & Education Space Updates

Dear First Lutheran family,

Merry Christmas! We hope you enjoyed time with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of our savior.

Sunday, Dec. 30 at 9 a.m. will be our last worship service at Noble Recital Hall in the Jenson-Noble Hall of Music at Luther College.

We are grateful for the generosity of Luther College in providing the Noble Recital Hall for our December worship. Special thanks to Mick Layden, Adrian Walter and Jill Marquardt for their assistance with sound, set-up, decorating and volunteer coordination.

Regular worship and education programming resumes Jan. 5 & 6

First Lutheran will resume our regular worship schedule, beginning Jan. 5 & 6. The worship schedule will be as follows: Saturday worship – 5 p.m.; Sunday worship – 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday morning education programming will resume in January at 9:50 a.m. in the usual locations. Orange and Adult Forum resume January 6. Confirmation resumes January 13.

Worship will be held in the Carriage House directly behind the church

Beginning January 5 & 6, all worship services will be held in the Carriage House, which is located directly behind the First Lutheran’s educational wing. We appreciate the generous offer from Steve and Alice Runde for the use of this space. The Carriage House has recently been renovated into an event space and has capacity for about 180 people. The space is mapped out to accommodate the choir, a children’s area, accessible seating and an area for coffee/fellowship following worship.

Both Sunday worship services will be traditional

Both Sunday worship services will include liturgy and music that are traditional in style. This is for a few reasons – capacity in the Carriage House is about 180 people, which is slightly less than our average worship attendance. We are hoping regular 8:30 worship attendees will consider being flexible and attending worship later in the morning to balance the number of people attending both services. Additionally, due to space issues, the Carriage House is not ideal for New Song-led worship.

We are blessed with many talents within our congregation and we are looking forward to developing worship services that will include different instruments and voices that will continue to bring meaning to worship for everyone.

Gratitude to our church leadership

Our pastors, staff and executive team have worked hard to develop a good solution for worship and education moving forward. Our goal has been to resume our regular programming with as little interruption as possible.

This work is complex – there are many factors to consider, such as accessibility, parking, capacity, moving equipment and resources, cost, sound and many others – and especially that making changes like this requires a willingness to be flexible.

Many options have been thoroughly explored, including looking at many spaces throughout the community and continuing worship at Luther College. We needed a space where worship, education, and fellowship could all thrive, with a minimum amount of set-up, tear-down, and movement of equipment. Many of the options we explored did not afford us education space or storage for our worship and education supplies. Other options would have required us to drastically alter our worship and education schedules.

We have worked to develop the most workable solution for the majority of our programming, and while we have accepted that there is no perfect solution, we are excited about the possibilities available to us in the Carriage House. The beautiful space offers us an intimate opportunity for worship as continue to draw close as a congregation in this next phase of our life together.

Annual Meeting is Sunday, Jan. 27

The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will be Sunday, Jan. 27 between services, beginning at 9:45 a.m., in the Carriage House.

Building update

Installation of the tension cables to help stabilize the walls of the church was completed by the contractor last week (week of Dec. 17). Cameras were also installed to help track some of the structural concerns in the roof.

The building task force has learned that due to the evidence of weight and pressure over time contributing to the instability of the roof and walls First Lutheran’s property and casualty insurance company will cover the cost of the tension cables and installation. The insurance claim will cover nearly all of the approximate $30,000 cost to install the cables.

What you can do

  • We will be moving chairs and other furniture to the Carriage House this week. Please call the church office at 563-382-2638 if you are able to help with this work.
  • Please attend worship. We need to continue to gather as a community of worship, and we miss you when you’re not there.
  • Please remember your regular giving and return your stewardship pledges to the church. Making our budget numbers is essential.
  • Communicate with us. Do you have questions? Concerns? Church leadership aims to engage in thoughtful and deliberate decision-making through this entire building process. We continue to commit to timely and transparent sharing of information.
  • Continue to pray for our congregation and its leaders. We are incredibly grateful for the compassion, support, and hopefulness that you have shown these last weeks.

We feel God’s Spirit moving and working. Together, we continue to trust that holy and beautiful things will continue to come from this unexpected disruption.

Peace to you and yours in this holy season,
Pastor Chad, Pastor Melissa, and the FLC Church Council

Building Updates & Christmas Worship

Dear First Lutheran Family,

Several things have been happening since our decision last week to close our sanctuary and fellowship hall due to structural concerns with the building.

Building Task Force & Next Steps

Task force: We appointed a task force, led by Troy Whitehill, which includes Paul Berland, Ben Grimstad, Larry Grimstad and David Carlson. This group is working under the direction and in partnership with the council executive committee. This group is deliberately small to allow them to work nimbly and take steps to secure our building as quickly as possible.

The scope of the task force’s work is to serve as a liaison between the contractor and the council, make short-term recommendations regarding the safety and stability of the building, secure assets (organ, pews, pianos, altar, etc.) in the church and fellowship hall, and make financial recommendations to cover any costs to do so.

Their scope of work does not include longer-term recommendations about the building or any construction or reconstruction; that work will involve a larger team that will be appointed in the future. The task force has been quick and thorough in their response, and we thank them for their help.

Building evaluation: The final report from the contractor and engineer confirmed their concerns about the structural integrity of the church building, specifically the roof and the walls of the sanctuary. The walls are showing significant outward displacement (meaning they are bending outward) because of issues with the roof.

The roof’s main rafters are showing twisting, bowing, bending, cracking and splitting, which is putting pressure on the walls. The cracking and obvious movement of the structure seem to have been progressing at a faster rate over the past six months, making the building unsafe due to fear of collapse. Winter weather changes such as heavy snowfall and wind have potential to make the situation worse. The contractor and engineer do not believe the existing roof can be fixed.

Building stabilization: The task force recommended the church council approve the contractor and engineer’s recommendation to stabilize the building by drilling into the church walls and installing tension ties across the sanctuary space. This will stabilize the building so monitors can be installed to evaluate any further movement of the building. Unfortunately, it will not make the building safe enough to occupy for regular activities.

Council approval of recommendation: The church council unanimously approved the proposal and the expenditure, which is estimated between $30,000-$35,000. Work is expected to begin next week.

Worship & Church Activities

Worship/Programming: The pastors and staff are working tirelessly to plan worship for the month of December and take steps to continue regular programming in January. Our plan is to continue with our regular three worship services and education schedule in January with as few modifications as possible.

Please remain patient and appreciate the complexity of this work. There are many factors to consider, such as accessibility, parking, availability, capacity and ability to move supplies and equipment to multiple sites. Our goal is to have an update for you regarding a long-term plan for where we will worship and host education and other programs within the next few weeks.

Christmas Eve Worship: Christmas Eve worship services will be held in the Noble Recital Hall in the Jenson-Noble Hall of Music at Luther College at 3:00 p.m. (Family), 5:00 p.m. (New Song), and 7:00 p.m. (Traditional). We are blessed that Luther is allowing use of this space on a holiday. Because the capacity of this recital hall is smaller than the capacity of our sanctuary, we encourage people who usually attend the early service to consider worshiping at either of the later services to ensure that we are able to accommodate all worshipers in the space. Arrangements are being made for parking, signage and snow removal. We will not be holding Christmas Day worship this year.

What you can do: This is a significant challenge for our congregation, but we have faith that we will find strength as a faith community and work through these issues. You can help us by continuing to attend worship so we can gather as a community. It is also safe to say that offerings, contributions and stewardship pledges are more important than ever. Please remember to keep up your contributions to the church. Finally, please pray as we work to make everyone involved as safe as possible, communicate changes and continue the work of our church.

Church leadership commits to timely, transparent, and accurate communication of information throughout this process. Please direct your questions to:

  • Pastor Chad Huebner – (563) 382-2638, pastorchad@firstlutherandecorah.org
  • Council President Erika Randall – (952) 412-5255, rander01@luther.edu
  • Council Vice President Karen Trewin – (563) 419-4796, kttrewin@gmail.com

As we wait during this Advent season for the coming of our Lord and Savior, may our hearts be filled with faith in our future, hope for our continued progress, joy at his coming and love for each other.

Sincerely,
Pastor Chad, Pastor Melissa, and the FLC Church Council