Sacred Places Winter 2019 - Page 17

Likewise, the community around St. Paul’s changed dramatically over the last hundred years. When Sullivan’s design was built, the church was situated at the edge of the city, near the local fairgrounds. Later, Cedar Rapids expanded so much that St. Paul’s location is now seen as a part of the larger downtown area. It is surrounded by neighborhoods with residents from a wide range of economic classes. An influx of refugees and immigrants from several African countries is now reflected in the church’s membership and cultural traditions. After a century of changes in and around the church, St. Paul’s found itself dealing with a facility that no longer met its needs. Jade Hart is an active member of the church who served on the building committee through the recent capital campaign. As she explains, “Things were different in 1913… The old entry was a split-level, and you had to go up or down as soon as you got in the door… We used to have at least five entries and people didn’t know where to go.” In addition, worshippers needed to cross the street from the parking lot, so safety was a growing issue. All of this left some members wondering if it was time to move to a new location outside of town. Gathering in the sanctuary Photo: L.J. Schneekloth Photography Gathering spaces adjacent to sanctuary Photo: L.J. Schneekloth Photography Instead of relocating, St. Paul’s made a clear decision to stay in central Cedar Rapids, embrace its unique facility and neighborhood outreach, and reinvest in its downtown community. The congregation embarked on a multi-million-dollar capital campaign to renovate its buildings and reimagine how the campus is organized to welcome people. grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places. The project included thoughtful renovations of several areas in the historic Sullivan-designed building, including remodeling of a central gathering space on the main floor of the building, restoration of historic stained glass windows, and the fabrication of furniture using elements of historic doors and trim removed from the building. In the end, the church raised over $5 million, including nearly $1 million in historic tax credits provided by the state of Iowa, and a $250,000 The project also included wholesale renovation of the education building, with a more open office plan and better functioning classroom spaces for music rehearsals and early childhood education programs. Finally, the project completely reconstructed the connecting areas between the two buildings, with increased natural lighting, prominent entryways from front and back of the building, elevator access to all levels, and fully accessible restroom facilities. The result is a stunning integration of spaces designed in three distinct eras, with an unmistakable and welcoming front door. Reflecting on the changes, Jade Hart says, “I think it’s been life-changing.” Rev. Sherrie Ilg, Lead Pastor, adds, “Before we never saw one another… Now we cross paths all the time. We have better interactions with our staff… So it has been fantastic.” SACRED PLACES • WINTER 2019 17