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Trinity Lutheran Church plans $2 million addition

The Rev. Cameron P. Keyer, senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Stephens City, stands outside the front of the church along Fairfax Pike. The church is starting a building program that would demolish the parish hall located at the left and retain the sanctuary on the right. Rich Cooley/Daily

This artist’s rendering shows the proposed front view of Trinity Lutheran Church after its addition is completed. The addition will include administrative offices, classrooms and a nursery. Courtesy image

This is an artist's rendering that shows the back view of the church, where main entrance will be. Courtesy image

By Kim Walter

When the Rev. Cameron Keyser came to Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City one year ago, the congregation consisted of about 20 members, and nothing new had been built or renovated since 1949.

Now, that is changing.

"I came in and it was obvious that the church members knew something needed to be done, but they just weren't sure what," Keyser said. "Well, we prayed and discussed and we felt the Holy Spirit led us to realize that we needed a new building to be up to speed with other congregations."

A facility development task force was created, and the group and pastor visited about 15 area churches of all denominations that had undergone recent additions and upgrades. After creating a wish list of what they wanted, the group chose Manassas-based Gregory Construction to take on the $2 million project.

Currently, the church consists of a historic sanctuary, built in 1908, a parish hall and a conference room. While the sanctuary will get some interior renovations, it's "not going anywhere," but the rest of the facility will be torn down.

Still located at the current address, 810 Fairfax St., the addition will be 10,500 square feet, and will include several rooms that the church previously lacked: administrative offices, classrooms, a new narthex, a covered drive through, new bathrooms, a kitchen, a room for choir rehearsals and a nursery."

"The nursery is really important, because we'd love to attract some younger families," he said. The congregation has now grown to about 100 people.

The church presented its project to the Stephens City Historical Commission, as the church is in the historic district.

"We'd like to develop some new programming as well," Keyser said. "It certainly will be a physical transformation for us, but there's an important point that I've tried to make all along ... you can build Madison Square Garden with gold, but if there's no team playing that anyone wants to see, all you've got is a very expensive place."

Keyser admitted that, physically, they were about 40 years behind the trends in churches.

"It was fine in 1960, but over the years the usefulness has dwindled, and there was just no focus or vision for the future," he said.

The church already had $1.35 million ready to put toward the construction, which is coming from savings after the church was left land from a member who passed away. The church sold it, and garnered a substantial profit. The remaining $600,000 will be raised over a three-year period, and the pastor said $275,000 has already been committed.

"Even though the use of funds wasn't designated, I think the benefactor would happily approve of where the money is going," Keyser said.

The groundbreaking will take place at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the church. Construction will begin in March, and potentially will be completed by December 2013. In the meantime, the congregation is looking for a space to hold worship.

The church has also come up with a new slogan: "Recapturing our past and reinventing our future."

"I think it really summarizes our mood at this point," Keyser said. "We're all very excited and can't wait to see what this will do for our congregation."

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


As a consultant who works with struggling churches trying to influence a church turnaround or church growth strategy I found this to be an interesting story in a neighboring town.

Why would they not want to spend that banked money on outreach, evangelism, social programs, or anything like that? Do they NOT see that people are struggling these days? I guess they think that what these people really need is a really cool new church building to attend.

This is the “If you build it, they will come” strategy which is unlikely to be effective by itself.


To Jeffrey Rodman:
We annually share $80,000+ with the com-munity.
We distribute 35-50 free gas vouchers daily.
We host a monthly free community meal.
Our Bequest Board supports CCAP, WATTS, etc. Our women reoutinely make a hundre+ quilts annually and give them to nursing homes and senior centers.
We are a very "social ministry" oriented congregation. This is the first "brick and mortar" money this congregation has spent since 1949!
We are not looking to have a "cool" church - just a "workable" one. We have no education space; inadequate rest rooms; cubby-holes for offices; a non-functioning kitchen...plus no showers to be able to house WATTS residents in the winter.
We have consultants, too who have advised that if we are to grow and attract new disciples (so that we can INCREASE that $80,000+) we have to have the facilities to do it.
As a consultant, perhaps you should - as do ours - have more accurate data before offering advice...
BTW: They are "already coming" (as the story notes: attendance up from 20 to 100 in a year) -and we haven't even built! But, to KEEP them coming, the facilities really do need improvement...

To The Grand Wazoo: What in the heck do your comments have to do with this story?
I pay in the 36% range for my PERSONAL tax as Pastor, and we don't own ANY businesses (and neither does our parent body, the ELCA).
Perhaps, you, too, should be a bit more aware...

so you're giving the community $80K but will waste $2 million on a building.

seems those "Christian" priorities are a little askew.

frankly rev. I don't beleive your 36% tax rate.

I agree with Wazoo, time for the churches to pay taxes.
No more free rides or entitlements right ?

Nice to be called a liar by a perfect stranger.
Believe what you want. I spent 22 yrs as a journalist before seminary, so "facts" are pretty "sacred" to me.
My response: "come and see." Try it ...you might just like it. Service is at 9:30am Sunday.
Would be glad to discuss this further, but not here.

I know people that this church has given help. Judge Not. No I don't go to this church.I attend no church regularly. But people are to quick to judge. Nothing done to building since 1949. Come on if it was your home and it needed work you would get it done.Gods house needs work. If something happened with building and someone got hurt you all would be first to say They should have used their money to fix it.Today no one is ever right in what they try to do.Bless this church for what they do in community. But for some it is never enough, or right....

I'm all for separation of church and state and have made that clear previously. But some of you people really need to give it a break. This story was about a church expanding due to their needs on their own dime it appears. The constant bickering over every little thing does absolutely nothing in furthering a relationship of compromise between the two.

If you don't believe fine, but constantly attacking believers anytime religion or the church is mentioned is never going to gain the respect of your own beliefs or lack thereof you hope to achieve.

Dear Sbrannon -
Thank you so much for your kind words. It's so disheartning when you run into folks - Christian or not - who have such hard hearts. Wish I could share with him a little of what "church" is REALLY all about....and, since you don't attend church regularly: you KNOW you are ALWAYS welcome (as is EVERYONE) at Trinity! I wish you'd come for a visit (you, too, "wondering: - you might change your tune!)

Thank you Cam I do have a church but I might just visit.I believe it doesn't matter which house of God I attend.But I am more of a one on one with god.He is a constant in my life.He always gives me the answers I seek even if its not the answer I want. All of us can always learn from him.I pray things get better for everyone.

Rock on, Pastor Cam. Well stated.

Katybug & Snarks - well put! Visit us sometime before the wrecking ball comes in March & see how badly we need this!

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