On the couch from left, Senior Pastor Jonathan Heierman; Keith VanGood, music director; Terri Miller, church ministry director; and Diane Biggs, council treasurer; seated in back, Rebecca Courser, director of youth ministry; Kellee Rainoldi, administrative ministry director; and Kate Zywicki, associate pastor, and the rest of the Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church leadership are proud of their renovation work. Photo by Phil Custodio
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
After more than a year of work, Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church has about doubled in size, adding 10,000 square feet onto 10,000 square feet of renovated space.
“It’s been a long haul,” said Senior Pastor Jonathan Heierman. “Now, we can have fellowship, community meetings, luncheons, awards, multiple things at the same time. It expands what we can do. It’s amazing to me, to go from being so cramped to being able to breathe.””
The renovation project will help make them a beacon of hope for the community, Heierman said.
“The goal is to create a caring community, to meet the needs of the community,” said Kate Zywicki, associate pastor.
The biggest addition is an open, multipurpose room with a 35-foot-high ceiling, which can be set up for youth ministry classes, theatrical presentations, large and small community group meetings, sports, and other activities.
“It’s a place for our youth ministry, for whatever may be needed,” Heierman said.
Plans also include provisions for emergency housing with showers, in case of power outages, or severe cold or heat, he said.
Renovation work includes more open spaces and new offices, designed with an emphasis on gathering, collaboration, and creativity. The building has been renovated and added to several times, but this is the first completely integrated project, he said.
“The offices used to be a maze. Now it is much more efficient,” Heierman said. “We looked at how it works together to make sense, make it more logical. We threw out all preconceptions and came up with a great plan with a great architect. It was worth waiting for, an incredible gift to the community.”
The former nursery room was renovated into an open coffee center. An expanded music room and offices will hopefully include a place to train aspiring musicians to play in a band, said Keith VanGood, music director.
“A place where you can learn to play guitar, sing in a controlled area, how to play on Sunday morning in front of a crowd,” VanGood said. “We’re excited about that.”
The former church fellowship hall was completely renovated into a dedicated space for fellowship, life ministries, moms’ groups with their children, men’s groups, and other activities, expanding from 75- to 250-person capacity.
Ideas for the new and renovated spaces include job training, resume writing, senior fitness, co-op preschool, scout troops, and workshops and trainings with local schools. Outside, they can host group leadership training at the church’s low-ropes course.
“We’ve been waiting for this build to happen for a while,” said Terri Miller, church ministry director. “Now is the time, there’s so much energy. It’s exciting.”
They’re looking to identify and invite more groups helping people deal with anxiety, dependency, and other issues, to make the church a place of healing and health, Heierman said.
“Listen to what is going on the community and provide a safe place to meet,” he said. “We hope to become a place of gathering, a fun, welcoming area for everybody. We asked a lot of ‘why’ questions. Why do this? Why expand. It’s because you matter, all God’s people.”
The community is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 4:30 p.m., at the church, 6805 Bluegrass Drive, for tours, and cider and donuts. The ceremony was rescheduled from Nov. 14.
“A time for us to show the community the space and how it can be shared, what we do and what we can do,” Heierman said. “We invite people to take a look and dream how to utilize it for the community, grow, and serve the community.”
For more information, call 248-625-3288.