At this point in time, WHY are we concerned with Opening New Doors?

Now that the consolidation of Minneapolis and Minnetonka is complete, it’s time for Bethlehem Lutheran Church of the Twin Cities to look forward and ask “What’s next?” We’re excited to tell you that our three-year, $3 million mission appeal, “Opening New Doors” will address that question. We’ve hired building experts who are surveying both locations and making recommendations to ensure that our buildings are structurally sound long into the future. We are also looking at how to create welcoming and safe interior spaces that will attract new members into our community of faith. It is exciting to plan for the future of our church, reaching out into our communities and welcoming others into our family of faith. It’s not all about us, after all. It’s about those not yet here, who we don’t even know. It’s about reaching out to others and inviting them in–opening new doors. And in order to do that, we need to pay it forward and create that opportunity as someone else did for us in the past. We invite you to join us in giving and in preparing the way for future generations.

– Melissa Steen, Mission Appeal Co-Chair


Q: Why is Bethlehem conducting a three-year appeal?
A: The Minneapolis campus of Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities has for many years used a succession of three-year appeals to pay for critical building additions, renovations, debt reduction, new congregation start-ups, additional staffing, and outreach ministries through giving above and beyond the annual budget. Members who desire to provide resources for the entire ministry of the church see fit to support both the annual operating fund and mission (formerly “capital”) campaigns. With the consolidation of both campuses, Bethlehem will continue to rely on this two-pronged method to fund the entirety of our ministries.
Q: What is the goal of the three-year appeal?
A: $3 million and 100% participation among all Bethlehem Twin Cities members.
Q: Why was the theme “Opening New Doors” chosen?
A: This appeal is less for the benefit of our current members than it is designed to open new doors to people who are currently unfamiliar with Bethlehem, along with all the grace and blessings of Jesus Christ that accompany it. We believe that any and all work done on our facilities is intended first and foremost to welcome the stranger and provide a hospitable environment to those who find their way to our doors.
Q: What makes the timing of this appeal so critical?
A: In the fall of 2015 in Minneapolis and the spring of 2016 in Minnetonka, comprehensive assessments of both facilities by the forensic architectural firm Built Environments identified ongoing moisture-related damages in the buildings at both church locations. Left unresolved, these issues will continue to degrade the structures and proliferate contamination on both the visible and hidden facets of the structures. As time passes, the damages will also become more costly to mitigate.
Q: What is the amount of the loan Bethlehem has secured to pay for these repairs and remediation?
A: In October 2016, the congregation voted to approve the church council’s recommendation to borrow $6.3 million. The cost to remediate the Minneapolis facility is projected to be $3.76 million; the cost to remediate the Minnetonka building is projected to be $1.49 million. When we received our financing, we included an additional $1 million to help pay for the first phase of a Masterplan renovation for the Minnetonka facility. Subsequent phases of that Masterplan to further enhance the space are projected to be in the $4 million range. Due to the steep cost of that plan, we wisely accepted the counsel of leaders in the congregation who advocated we retain the services of an owner’s representative (Watershed Partners), a best-practices component of any large renovation/building process.
Q: In light of those costs, has any consideration been given to other options for the Minnetonka facility?
A: Yes. On March 28, the Church Council, upon the advice of our owner’s rep, decided that we would be well-advised to engage an architect to develop a site plan for the Minnetonka property to consider the full gamut of options on the site. That plan is projected to be completed by mid-June.
Q: What follows the completion of the site plan?
A: Bethlehem leadership, including staff, the Church Council, and the Finance Committee will need to carefully evaluate the study’s findings and recommendations. Without knowing precisely what options the site plan will generate, it is impossible to know at this moment what future action(s) will be taken. That said, we will continue the tradition of the congregation to steward all the resources entrusted to us faithfully and responsibly.
Q: Will there be additional leadership from the congregation at large to help move a plan forward?
A: Yes, we are currently in the process of inviting members from both the Minneapolis and Minnetonka campuses to serve on a Facilities Task Force who will be charged to provide due diligence and oversight of the building and/or renovating process.
Q: Knowing that we will not proceed immediately on the full remediation plan for Minnetonka, what physical improvements will take place in the near future?
A: The “must do” priorities include sanctuary roof patching, replacement of carpeting on the main floor, sanctuary air-conditioning, miscellaneous painting, and mold abatement on the lower level. Bethlehem’s owner’s rep will coordinate this work.
Q: While this process unfolds regarding the Minnetonka campus, when will the remediation work begin on the Minneapolis campus?
A: Final architectural drawings are anticipated by mid-May with work to begin shortly afterward.
Q: Without knowing fully which avenue we will take regarding the Minnetonka facility, we’re still being asked to make a financial commitment at this time?
A: Yes, because we know that regardless of which facility needs the most attention at any point in time, we will always ask all members in both locations to support the work at both locations with generous giving. While we know most members stay connected and are emotionally tied to one or the other facility, our strength is that we are one church with two sites, and in order for our one church to continue to thrive, sacrifices and generous commitments from all members at both sites will be essential.
Q: What are the other components of the appeal?
A: This appeal will provide funding for Bethlehem’s newest pastor, Meta Carlson, whose primary duties will be at the Minnetonka campus. Resources to invite and engage our neighbors to connect to the Minnetonka ministries will also be allocated. Additionally, we will earmark 15% of gifts received to fund three primary outreach partners: Beacon Interfaith, whose Families Moving Forward program has a long tradition of support from Minnetonka campus members, Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry, a ministry born out of the Minneapolis campus in 1995, and Global Health Ministries, which has had active engagement from members of both campuses over the years.