Bethlehem Lutheran Church is blessed with many disciples and resources for ministry and mission to the wider community in the Fox River Valley. One of our primary resources is the 43,000 sq. ft. of space in our main building, built in two stages: 1958 original yellow brick building and 1991 Family Life Center addition. Over the years this large and complex set of structures has served BLC reasonably well, and this congregation has been able to grow and minister in many lasting and significant ways within St. Charles and the overall Fox River Valley.
At the same time, it is clear by now to the casual observer, as well as many of our visitors, there are significant deficiencies in our existing facilities. Some of these items include cramped and outdated restrooms, inaccessibility to the 400 Level for persons with mobility challenges, and awkward and insufficient space for gathering between worship services and for hosting congregation- and community-wide events. Furthermore, numerous maintenance items and building repairs have been deferred and neglected to the detriment of the overall condition, comfort, and convenience of our facilities. It is long past overdue for us to address this complicated and interwoven set of issues so that Bethlehem can continue to build community and serve the wider area.
The architectural scheme and renderings being presented to Bethlehem disciples constitute a second Master Plan Concept for a new vision of how to remedy and improve many, but not all, of our building deficiencies in the next 3-5 years and beyond. Making our facilities “better” can mean different things to different persons, which is why it is so important for us as a faith community to discern and discuss how best to make improvements, all with the goal of supporting and prospering the ministry and mission of Bethlehem. Multiple forums are planned for the month of February, providing ample opportunities to listen in on these important conversations and to offer feedback and insights.
We are encouraged that Bethlehem has come to this important place of discernment regarding its aging building. We have the opportunity here to reshape our space even as it continues to shape us and the kinds of programs and ministries we are able to offer to the wider community. The decisions made now will have ripple effects either way well into the future. We trust that together, as disciples in this faith community, we are committed to making sure we have accessible, comfortable, and efficient facilities. May Bethlehem continue to do God’s work for many, many decades to come!
The disciples serving on the Property Development Team are: Lynne Hepler, Phil Hildebrandt, Bob Gehm, Jim Kautz (chair), Julie Schelstreet, Brian Warner and Jill Wirig