The First Lutheran Church congregation had vacated their historic sanctuary the first weekend in December 2018, due to structural issues discovered in the roof. At that time, twelve tension cables were installed in the sanctuary to stabilize the walls.
This past month, six vertical columns have been installed in the sanctuary to support the roof load. These columns run from the rafters down to concrete footings in the basement. Additional steel reinforcements have also been added to portions of the roof rafters. These stabilizations allow for safe reoccupation of the space while further decisions are made about permanent repairs and renovations of the building.
"Safety remains our highest priority and we will continue to rigorously monitor the roof and walls for any movement. We are thrilled to be able to able to return to worship in the sanctuary on Pentecost, which Christians celebrate as the birthday of the church" said Pastor Chad Huebner, lead pastor at First Lutheran.
The First Lutheran Church congregation has been worshiping in the historic carriage house right behind their property since January, and has also utilized space at Luther College for worship services.
"We are incredibly grateful for the hospitality that has been shown to us by both Luther College and by Steve and Alice Runde, the owners of the carriage house. It is a blessing to have had beautiful spaces to worship while we have been without a permanent worship home these last months," said Pastor Melissa Bills, associate pastor at First Lutheran.
A task force has been assembled to lead the congregation through a planning process that will evaluate a permanent solution for the building based on the congregation's vision for its ministry.