On Sunday, the 10-foot high doors of St. Paul Lutheran Church of Davenport will swing open and the congregation will enter the newly completed worship center for the first time.
Prayers of blessing will follow, along with singing accompanied by piano. Perhaps a few thoughts of the original German immigrants who worshiped in the small St. Paul Lutheran Church at 14th and Main streets, 125 years ago, will be shared.
The $7.2 million-plus addition’s architecture blends in with the existing historic Georgian Colonial structure.
“These doors represent the open door spirit of this congregation, the hospitality that proclaims that each one of us is a guest in the house of the Lord,” said Mary Miller, minister of outreach at St. Paul.
The new center features liturgical furnishings crafted by local artisans, a tower of light and cross visible from Brady Street, the latest in technology and acoustics designed to enhance musical offerings.
The 1952 sanctuary features an elegant, formal environment that lets people know this was a sacred space, said Wynne Schafer, a member of St. Paul and interior designer.
The building committee realized today’s church members want to feel they are in a spiritual setting, so the new sanctuary has an open and flexible feel to it. Cathedrals and churches of the past utilized fine art and craftsmanship to help congregants understand the church was both a place of worship and beauty, Schafer said.
The new space will feature 10 stained glass windows from the 1952 sanctuary in a wall of glass on the south end, Miller said. That element will help tie the older part to the new and create a feeling of continuity.
Three artisans — wood craftsman Jay Stratton, glass sculptor Mark Fowler and custom metal worker Mike Boyler — coordinated the work on creating the table, or altar, pulpit and sanctuary cross for the worship center.
The design came from the architects Groth Design Group of Cedarburg, Wis. The metal work on the pulpit reflect the steel ceiling trusses. The main contractor was Estes Construction, Davenport.
Stratton and Fowler surveyed the results of their hands after the liturgical furnishings were moved into place. “Coming together on time is a nice thing. It’s always a pleasure to have the job come together without wrinkles,” Fowler said. “Most people don’t realize all the details that go into this.”
The cross is centrally displayed in the sanctuary and it is mounted on an oak reredos, or the oak partition wall behind the table. It took about 40 hours to manufacture and the finish reflects the wood grain.
Even after the congregation celebrates the new space on Sunday, there are still a few more elements to add. August Peter of Wisconsin is creating a bronze baptismal font bowl that will have circulating water. The church will have to wait until next year for the arrival of the new M.L. Bigelow and Company pipe organ from American Fork, Utah.
St. Paul is adding a new contemporary service on Sunday mornings at 11:45 a.m., Miller said. The new 8-foot high by 14-foot wide screen at the front of the sanctuary will serve a variety of purposes from displaying the words of songs to text and even movies. A 12-foot high speaker is recessed in the reredos and the unit is made up of 32 separate speakers, all with their own amplifiers.
“You should be able to clearly see the screen from anywhere in the room,” said Brad Suhr, St. Paul’s technical support specialist. Not so easily accomplished was the task of making sure every one can clearly hear senior pastor, the Rev. Peter Marty’s sermons from any where in the room.
“Because this space is designed for music that makes the spoken words from the pastor harder to understand,” he said.
People as they leave the church may notice the pegs in the doors. In 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses — or protests against church abuses — on the doors of the Castle Church in Germany, Miller said.
‘For St. Paul’s processional doors, the architect has simulated 95 ‘pegs’ to mimic these 95 articles of protest, the beginnings of the Christian Reformation,” she said.
Community open house
The Quad-City community is invited to stop in and see the new St. Paul worship center, bookstore and adjacent hospitality space from 3-5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7.
More than 30 community groups use the church for meetings. Construction has focused on renovating the 1952 sanctuary into a large gathering area and a chapel, said Dave Crowe, head of the building committee. The group is looking for a faith community that could use the sacramental furnishings and pews.
St. Paul offers Sunday morning worship services at 8 and 9:20 a.m. and a new contemporary service at 11:45 a.m.