“Our job is not the how, it is the where and what,” said Troy Whitehill about the role of the Building/Visioning Task Force. “Where is God calling First Lutheran? What building solution facilitates the existing and growth-ministries of the congregation?”

For the past seven months, the Building/Visioning Task Force— Janice Kraabel, Kendra VanSloten, Carrie Nimrod, Mary Hart, Greg McGohan, Paul Berland, Adrian Walter and Troy Whitehill—met weekly for discovery and discernment.

“The process is like a funnel,” said Whitehill. “Needs and wants, hopes and dreams go in the top, the wide part. Everything is possible, everything is considered. With prayerful diligence, the idealistic ‘everything’ narrows to a realistic ‘our thing.’

“In our work, we discerned shared values: hospitality/welcome, which includes accessibility, worship/music, youth/family, and outreach/social ministry. That said, it was surprising to discover the diversity within those shared values. Individuals find meaning, connection, in different aspects of congregational life.

“Serving on the task force has been a spiritual experience,” he said. “At each key decision point, God’s light shines a bit brighter.”

Three building-related groups have tag-teamed leadership since the structural issues were first discovered in December 2018. First, the Stabilization Task Force—Larry Grimstad, Dave Carlson, Paul Berland, Ben Grimstad and Troy Whitehill—addressed the immediate crisis. The Building/Visioning Task Force took over the process, including hiring Kueny Architects, and developing building proposals. Now the Building Finance Task Force—Karen Trewin, Ben Grimstad, Troy Whitehill and Pastor Chad Huebner—starts its work in earnest, including selectively testing preliminary plans.

“None of the task force members do church building for a living—thank goodness,” said Whitehill, “so, we are grateful for the guidance from the ELCA churchwide office. We’re following their road map. One strong recommendation: the congregation votes on only one option. When the congregation chooses between two or more options, you end up with winners, losers and bad feelings. That’s why we’ll do selective testing before a plan is presented to the whole congregation.

“At a church council meeting, I was asked if we could say the congregational presentation will happen in the spring. I said, ‘Sure, if we don’t say what year.’ Seriously though, the Stabilization Task Force gave us time. We’re going take the time we need to do it right.”


Building on Your Mind?
To sign up to get new FLC updates sent to your email inbox, visit bit.ly/FLCupdates. Members are encouraged to share building-related questions, concerns and comments with Pr. Chad. Emails sent to building@firstlutherandecorah.org are seen by Pr. Chad and Troy Whitehill.