For just $1, congregants at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church could purchase a square of the old orange carpet that used to cover the sanctuary floor.
“People either hated the carpet or loved the carpet,” said Urb Molitor. He’s the head of the building committee for the church’s recent renovation.
The congregation celebrated the completion of the renovation Sunday with an open house. They had food in the fellowship hall, a bounce house out back and music on the portico. Members mingled in the new narthex, admiring the extra space and new doors and windows.
Amid the displays about outreach programs and Sunday school, Janet Neu sat selling carpet squares. Garrison Keillor himself couldn’t have written it better.
After the old carpet was torn up, Neu saw it in a pile and decided to take it home. It was the sort of thing people might be interested in having as a keepsake, or as a joke. It also made for a simple building fundraiser. Plain squares sold for $1. Framed squares, decorated with fabric, ribbon and an artificial flower, sold for $15.
It was a shame they didn’t have the fabric from the old chairs – they were orange, too. When the church was founded in 1959, that’s what was in style.
The old chairs were supposed to be burnt orange, but an order of bright orange came instead. The process of furnishing the church was weeks behind, so people decided to just keep them. At least, that’s the story Molitor’s heard, but it’s hard to say for sure.
Now, the sanctuary carpet is a blue-gray color, and the wooden chairs have blue upholstered cushions. The room is also more open. Before, it just had a side entrance. Now, congregants can enter through several front doors.
During some phases of the renovation, services had to be held in other areas of the building – adaptation was part of the construction process.
“The things we were doing without made what we could do that much more exciting,” said Paul Moeller, senior pastor.
He said the changes not only helped modernize the church, but also addressed the needs of the congregation. By the time those needs were assessed and plans were made – all in the midst of a struggling economy – the planning process took about six years. There are still a few details to finish, but for the most part, the work is done.
The renovation includes a sprinkler system in the ceiling and a youth room double the size of the old one. The biggest change was the expansion of the front of the church. The congregation needed the extra space but also wanted something more open. “It’s so much more open,” Moessner said.
Molitor said from the outside, it used to look like an office building – the front was just flat, and it was hard to see from the road because of the trees. “It looks like a church now,” he said.
And now that the orange carpet is gone, he and Neu suspect the church will be more appealing to brides-to-be.