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 firstname.lastname@example.org