Truly Devoted to a Big Purpose

December 29, 2017 | Posted by LCEF

Rotating a sanctuary 90 degrees sounds like a big project. That’s exactly what St. Mark Lutheran Church, Omaha, Neb., is doing, fueled by a big purpose: to connect people with Jesus.

“We want to bring the pastor closer to the people and bring the people closer together,” said Kurt Harmoney, St. Mark’s operations manager. The sanctuary, built in 1962, featured that era’s traditional long, narrow style, which put worshipers as far back as 90 feet from the pulpit.

“Instead of the congregation looking at the backs of heads, they’re going to see faces, bringing more community to the church,” Harmoney said. The new sanctuary is now under construction as part of a major renovation being made possible with the help of a loan through Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF).

This is where I want to worship

The renovation includes remodeling the sanctuary into a fan shape and rotating it to provide a less confusing, more welcoming entrance. This is an improvement spurred by visitors who often wandered around the church, confused where to worship.

Updates are also in the works for the sanctuary’s lighting and acoustics. The congregation brought in a lighting technician who diagnosed a major need. “He said in all his 30-some years, we had the lowest lighting he’d ever seen in a church,” said Harmoney. The new worship space will be brightened up with LED panel lights and recessed can lighting focused on the altar.

A sound engineer determined the pitch-perfect placement for new acoustic panels, an enhancement for Sunday worship and beyond. The youngsters are sure to see and hear more clearly, and so will their parents who come to St. Mark for special activities. “We hope to better connect with our day school and preschool families,” said Rev. Kevin Lentz, St. Mark’s senior pastor. “When they bring their children here, we hope they look around and say, ‘This is the place where I want to worship.’”


Building in the kingdom

During these months of disruption, the congregation appreciates working with faith-based partners. “I can’t stress enough the importance of working with companies that are like-minded, who understand that we are a church and what we’re about,” said Harmoney.

A long-standing ministry partnership, St. Mark had LCEF loans over the years for a previous addition and a gym. Today, along with the congregation’s capital campaign, an LCEF loan will help fund the sanctuary renovation, a priority in St. Mark’s strategic plan.

“In the past, we reviewed other [funding] options but LCEF has always been a better fit for us,” said Mike Munderloh, St. Mark’s treasurer.

“We want to be more welcoming and create a warmer and more personal atmosphere where we can meet people face to face and invite them to worship,” said Lentz. “We appreciate that those folks who are helping us out financially are part of the Church.”


Visit St. Mark’s website to see more pictures of the renovations and follow the church’s activities.

Originally appeared in LCEF’s 2017 Annual Report. Download a digital version of the Annual Report here.