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Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) - upper midwest districts serves Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) organizations and members in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. LCEF is a unique ministry-through-investment organization that offers LCMS members the opportunity to invest their money, earn interest, and help build LCMS churches and schools at the same time. www.lcef.org

 

Dreams of a New Church in Wisconsin

Touring the new site for Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Milan, Wis. in the fall 2014 (left to right): Rev. Jeff Lambrecht, LCEF Senior VP of Ministry Support Rev. Max Biesenthal and longtime Bethlehem member Wally Sprotte.

Touring the new site for Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Milan, Wis. in the fall 2014 (left to right): Rev. Jeff Lambrecht, LCEF Senior VP of Ministry Support Rev. Max Biesenthal and longtime Bethlehem member Wally Sprotte.

Bethlehem Lutheran first proposed the idea of building a new church roughly 15 or 20 years ago. “However it wasn’t until about four years ago that the idea really started to gain some traction and it became more and more apparent that we needed to do something,” said Bethlehem’s Pastor Jeffrey Lambrecht who serves a dual parish with St. John High Steeple in nearby Edgar. “When I first arrived more than five years ago, they told me of this dream to build, and I said, “Oh wow, that IS quite a dream.” The pastor and a group of leaders sat down to brainstorm and prioritize current and future needs of this congregation with 200 baptized members. “One of the #1 priorities our congregation had was to have a completely accessible building for our elderly and handicapped. In our current church, the bathrooms are in the basement, and every room is very small. Often on Sundays we’re bursting at the seams. This has been something we’ve needed for a long time.”

“It was so rewarding to finally see Bethlehem’s dream coming true as we toured the new site this fall about a mile north of their current building,” said Dennis Johnson, North Wisconsin District LCEF VP. “Late this summer Bethlehem celebrated their ground breaking and now the new site has a foundation, well, septic and main power.”

Creative seating on a lunch break at the new church site (left to right): members Wally Sprotte, Russell Buss and Shane Hammel.

Creative seating on a lunch break at the new church site (left to right): members Wally Sprotte, Russell Buss and Shane Hammel.

“Many of our members have pitched in to help. Congregation member and Project Leader Shane Hammel has been the point man for much of the work completed in preparation for Laborers For Christ to arrive. Shane has been a huge blessing to the new church facility. As soon as the road restrictions are lifted in the spring, we will have the concrete floor poured and then the Laborers will arrive,” said Lambrecht. “I am really excited about this experience. My grandparents, Albert (Bert) & Lucille Schweibert, were Laborers in the ‘80s. I remember them traveling to various churches in their camper to help congregations build.”

“Labors for Christ (LFC) should be on site in April or May 2015 to assist the congregation with framing the building,” said Johnson. “The campsites for Laborers are roughed in and almost ready for the crew. Connecting Bethlehem with LFC as a partner in ministry has been a great experience.”

Laborers For Christ

Laborers For Christ (LFC) members bring experience and expert knowledge in construction, typically cutting the project management costs 10% to 30%. LFC can also update existing facilities, helping you acquire tax credits, and/or money and energy savings. Read the EPA's publication specifically for congregations, "Putting Energy into Stewardship," for project ideas, potential savings and tips for going "green."

This money-saving benefit is secondary to the uplifting presence Laborers For Christ brings to your ministry. Laborers enjoy attending worship services, Bible studies and becoming part of your ministry. Laborers will help your ministry multiply the volunteer base, not only for the construction project but for your overall ministry.

Father and son working together at the new site (left to right): Shane Hammel and his son Isaac Hammel.

Father and son working together at the new site (left to right): Shane Hammel and his son Isaac Hammel.

An Eye to Serving Community Needs

“We’re so excited with what is happening at Bethlehem,” said Lambrecht. “We have a growing group of members who are in their 30’s and 40’s so our average age is right around 40-41 year old. We also have a growing Sunday school. ”Bethlehem is an outreach-minded congregation who wants to remain a dual parish and yet have space to invite the community in. We hope to be a center for worship and Christian growth. We’d like to offer more activities during the week with the new space. Milan itself is an unincorporated community. There’s isn’t any retail in Milan. There isn’t even a soda machine,” said Lambrecht. “Milan is really famous for its softball field. People come from a long way to play at the Milan ball field.

With an eye to inviting the area community in, we designed our new construction so the fellowship space can be easily expanded. The Sunday school rooms can open up and we have a sizable narthex. Adjacent to the sanctuary will a multipurpose storage/office that also doubles as tech room for the visual and audio equipment. Our goal is to continue to be committed to our dual parish with St. John High Steeple so we didn’t need dedicated office space because that is hosted at St. John’s."

The new church site is about a mile north of Bethlehem’s current church home.

The new church site is about a mile north of Bethlehem’s current church home.