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Zion Lutheran Church makes a vast renovation

Doug Ramsay photo

Jack Pacheco (left) and James Thompson assemble one of the new pews at the Zion Lutheran Church in Snohomish on March 13.

SNOHOMISH — Twenty-two new pews. Fresh carpet. Bright lights.
The holy house of Zion Lutheran Church didn’t plan to undertake a robust remodel, but everyone who’s surveyed what it looks like has given high praise.
The old medium-red carpet has given way to blue. The paint is a clean cream-white. Installing a better elevator is in the works.
The new wood pews, with Prussian-blue padded backs, came as a special order from a constructor in Texas.
Rain leaking through the roof initiated the plan.
“It has been His timing in this whole process,” said church president Gary Gable, who worked 40 years as a Lutheran educator.
Church leaders looked at the water damage and cracked plaster, looked at each other, and then contemplated how to make the church better: ‘Those speakers for church service could be replaced’; ‘the lighting could be upgraded,’ and so on.
The old, hard chairs they used, obtained in the 1920s — apparently as a “good deal,” Gable said — weren’t tossed away: They went to a second chance reuse company in Seattle.
It’s believed those chairs are almost original to when the church built its current building at 329 Ave. A.
Replacing the chairs was a “conversation that’s been going on for years” because of safety and comfort, Gable said, as they snap up when you stand up, movie-theater style.
A big remodel “was not in my blueprint,” Gable said. “I was
(intending) to steer the ship” after becoming the church president three years ago.
The only twist is that people can’t congregate in the vastly upgraded space. Not until coronavirus restrictions are lifted. For now, Zion Lutheran has been emailing its members the weekly sermon.
Those who have visited for a look around during construction, though, “were blown away by how different it is,” Gable said.
The altar remains in good condition. A local, Oswald Lauterbach, is credited with hand-carving the wood edifice behind the altar that was installed in the 1920s. New LED lights surrounding the altar brighten
everything up.
One thing Gable hopes is that the church can show it has something for the next generation of people. “We’ve got something here for you,” he said.
Zion Lutheran has 200 parishioners, which Gable said puts the church at the edge of a “critical mass” for being able to pay a pastor.
It has an interim pastor, and in fact parishioners are in the process of selecting a permanent pastor. Soon, the congregation will pray and decide among three candidates to formally choose one.
Zion’s been without a formal pastor since January 2019, but only by circumstance: The prior one moved to a new site.
Interim pastor Noel Koss currently leads Zion.
The church’s dedicated volunteer corps helped with the renovations.
Al Heerensperger, the chair of trustees for the church, is one of them.
Heerensperger, who was working at the site during a reporter’s visit, said the big remodel should last for generations to come.
Past generations helped pay for it.
The church is paying for the remodel with its own resources, digging into long-held reserves received from bequeathments, and it will cover part of the cost by selling a nearby house that stands where the original Zion Lutheran Church was sited in 1890.
When it can open to services, “we’ll have a better ‘tah-dah’” with a rededication ceremony, Gable said.

Doug Ramsay photo

The exterior of Zion Lutheran Church in Snohomish.

Michael Whitney photo

Looking down the aisle of the church now that the pews are installed.



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