Grace Lutheran Church, Fargo, North Dakota, has helped grow several LCMS congregations over the years but today the “mother church” is doing its own growing with a new building addition.
“We’ve been blessed with a number of gifts directed toward building,” said George Cusher, an elder and past president at Grace. “We’re making a leap of faith and will see where God leads us.”
Under construction is a 4,585 sq. ft. addition that increases classroom and fellowship space, enhances the church entrance, narthex and offices, and updates the restrooms.
“We did a survey of [facility] needs, and all the primary ones we’ve been able to do [through the addition],” Cusher said of the construction, which began in the spring and is expected to be complete in February 2016–if not sooner.
Generosity Leads to Opportunity
Grace is located in a residential neighborhood near downtown Fargo and draws worshipers from throughout the area. Established in 1898, it’s the city’s the oldest LCMS church, with the Rev. David Suelzle serving as pastor.
The addition was prompted by the generosity and stewardship of members who included their church home in their estate plans, “giving us the opportunity to take a look at the need to make updates,” Cusher said.
The congregation also turned to LCEF for a loan. “We explored some local financing for the construction, but felt that LCEF by far was the most beneficial for our church,” he added.
LCEF Assistant Loan Specialist Carol Faulkner “went above and beyond in helping us gather information,” said Claudia Engelstad, Grace’s treasurer. “All my questions were addressed and answered quickly.”
Over the years, the congregation also has worked with Bill Sharpe, LCEF Vice President in the LCMS North Dakota District, to formulate its plans.
Support from LCEF
LCEF also provided important support when the congregation was the sole operator of Grace Lutheran School. LCEF loans “helped us maintain our necessary cash flow, both at the church and the school,” Cusher said, explaining that the school is now under the auspices of a multi-church association.
Not surprisingly, a number of Grace members are LCEF investors whose investments help fund construction loans for other LCMS churches and schools as well as home and educational loans for church workers.
Grace’s 117-year history includes the planting of at least four LCMS congregations: Immanuel and Beautiful Savior, both in Fargo; St. Andrew in West Fargo; and Our Redeemer, Moorhead.
The congregation also provided support for Crosspointe Lutheran Church, planted by the LCMS North Dakota District in South Fargo.
Today, congregants hope their new addition will help stimulate ministry at Grace. For the first time, individual classrooms will be available for Sunday school, Bible classes and youth activities instead of using partitions to divide the fellowship hall. The church’s new entrance may catch some new eyes.
“We’re praying that our new addition will enhance our ministry,” Cusher said. “That’s our hope and prayer.”