St. Peter Lutheran Church will celebrate the completion of its building project during a Sunday, March 30, dedication service.
“The generosity and desire of people to help with this has been outstanding. We’re extremely thankful for it,” said Rev. Dennis Lemke, senior pastor at the church.
The service will begin at 2 p.m.
“It is a prayer service, but also, we will have a meal following it that everyone’s invited to, and we will be giving tours,” said Pat Freer, a member of the church’s Planning and Building Committee.
Lemke said all of the church’s choirs will sing during the service. “The day school and Sunday School kids will combine for a special selection,” he said.
Rev. Matthew Crass will be the guest speaker.
Crass served at St. Peter Lutheran from 1990-1998 and is the president of Luther Prepatory School, in Watertown.
The March 30 event will also include the music of the Studedmann Families, who are from the Menasha area.
Lemke said the two families are “extremely gifted musically.”
Their woodwind and brass choirs will be part of the pre-service music and dedication service. They will also perform during the fellowship hour.
In addition, plans call for Les Kehl to play piano during the meal.
The 90-plus year old taught at St. Peter Lutheran School.
The one-hour dedication service will be followed by a cornerstone laying ceremony. On display will be the items that will be put into a time capsule at a later date.
“After that, everyone will move into the commons for a meal,” Lemke said.
The St. Peter Ladies Aid is organizing the free meal.
“Everybody is invited to be our guest at the meal hour,” Freer said.
The dedication service will take place almost exactly a year after ground was broken for the project.
The groundbreaking was on March 31, 2013.
“We are expecting a large crowd, as we had for the groundbreaking and the opening for school,” Lemke said of the March 30 service. “We are going out with a larger invitation to celebrate the completion of the construction.”
Planning for the $4 million project began more than 10 years ago.
The first meeting about it was held in December 2003.
“There were ups and downs, but we’re blessed immensely,” Lemke said.
St. Peter Lutheran’s project included a new school, regulation size gymnasium, commons, administrative wing, narthex, parking area and playground.
Volunteers from Builders For Christ, a mission of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, built the 12,000-square-foot academic and administrative wings. They worked full time from May until August.
Freer said hundreds of members of St. Peter’s congregation volunteered on committees and in assisting Builders For Christ.
Another volunteer from Builders For Christ has been volunteering this year at the church.
Merlin Stuebs is a finishing carpenter.
The 75 year old lives in Appleton and has been doing all the woodwork in the narthex, Lemke said.
“He’s working by 6:30 a.m. and usually works on average until 5 or 6 p.m.,” Lemke said. “His work ethic is second to none. He doesn’t want to be praised. He’s a very humble man.”
Freer said, “He says he is thankful he has the opportunity to serve the Lord.”
Lemke said without the volunteers, there are parts of the project that would not have been done.
“The narthex is the last of the project being worked on,” he said. “It’s nearly completed. We’re hoping it will be fully completed by the dedication service.”
Initially, the narthex was to be Phase 2 of the church’s building project.
“When the bid came in more reasonably than anticipated, we decided to build the outer shell and finish it later,” Lemke said. “Because generous gifts came in, we were able to complete the narthex. It’s an amazing thing.”
Freer said, “It’s been a great joy to be part of this. The dedication service signals the end of the building. This is only the beginning. We now have an enhanced area for our ministries. That is how the design came about. Now, we have to make that a reality, so we will now have discussion. We’re hoping to do much more outreach to address the needs of not only our congregation but the community.”