Frieden’s Church will dedicate new addition Sunday

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

On Sunday, Jan. 22, after three years of construction, the talents of a number of people and various donations, members of Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church of rural New Prague will have a dedication ceremony for their recently completed fellowship hall, followed by an open house for the public.

Jeff Heine, a member of the building committee, said the completion of the hall utilized the talents and various donations from church members and friends of the congregation. The community is welcome to see this new building, and hear the unique story of how it was built. The open house will be from 2-5 p.m. Coffee and refreshments will be served.

The project began more than 12 years ago on a much smaller level. Members of the congregation wished to add an elevator, or ramp to allow handicap access to the church. A committee was appointed, and after visiting with other congregations, it was decided to expand the project to include an addition.

Tom Meyer, now a partner at MS&R, Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd., Architecture, had been a member of Friedens while growing up in the Heidelberg area and offered the services of his firm at a minimal cost. After meeting with the committee and having several meetings with the congregation, a concept plan was prepared, and some estimates were received as to the project cost.

In January 2003, the congregation approved the project after member Rick Tietz offered to manage the project. He proposed that members of Friedens had most of the talent and labor needed to complete the job, and hire subcontractors when special equipment or skills were needed.

Work started quickly, with the clearing away of some trees. Late in April, the footings were dug and by May the foundation walls were poured. It had been decided to get the hall side of the building enclosed first, creating a storage and work area, and the entry was to be completed later in the fall.

When Tietz died in a car crash in July, 2003, his funeral was held inside the uncompleted hall area, with seating set up on the dirt floor, and a small platform for an altar. This was the first public use of the addition.

While Tietz’s vision, organization and willingness got the project started, Heine said Tietz never considered the project to be his, but a work of the whole congregation.

A building committee consisting of Heine, Willard Rancour, Myron Tietz and Tom Thomsen were appointed a short time later to continue the project.

By fall of 2003, the entry area of the outside walls was framed, and tarps were set up as temporary roofs for the winter. Masons started the brickwork and windows were installed to enclose the area. Work continued inside the hall on the kitchen, restrooms and office areas through the winter. Wiring, insulating and sheet rocking were also completed.

One of the most impressive items on the addition was the building of its two steeples. Three months were spent constructing them completely on the ground in front of the addition. Accuracy was of the utmost importance, Heine said, because the steeples needed to be lifted up, and then positioned 30 inches down inside the completed towers. There was only one inch of clearance along both sides of each structure.

One Saturday morning, in the middle of July, 2004, workers from Ames Construction came and lifted the steeples into place with a crane. The taller steeple weighed over five tons. Both steeples were a perfect fit, and in about two hours, the work was done.

By winter of 2004 most of the outside work was completed. A small group of volunteer painters emerged, calling themselves the holy rollers. They diligently and carefully completed the task of painting and staining. What work was left was completed in the spring of 2005.

We invite any and all to come visit the church. This facility was built to advance the mission of Christ’s church on earth

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