For over 20 years the congregation at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hummelstown had been discussing the installation of an elevator. This historic church serves not only the faithful during Sunday services, but also provides educational opportunities through Sunday school and pre-school classes, as well as offering a food bank for the less fortunate in the surrounding community. However, activities that take place in the basement level or on the second floor of the facility were not easily accessible to all the members of the community.
While the Zion congregation knew that their church needed to be fully accessible to everyone, internal disagreements about the breadth and scope of the work kept the project a mere dream for decades. Finally, Intentional Interim Pastor Lois Van Orden, at the urging of her architect daughter, contacted Thyssenkrupp Elevator as a first step toward making the project a reality. Thyssenkrupp suggested that Pastor Van Orden contact Keystruct Construction, and a relationship was born.
As Pastor Van Orden worked with members of the church’s building committee, Keystruct’s pre-construction and estimating team reached out to SAAarchitects to assist with developing preliminary plans and architectural renderings. The Keystruct team knew that gaining the trust of the Zion community was the most important initial step toward building a strong relationship, and in turn a successful project.
In order to connect with the entire congregation, Keystruct and SAA attended a Sunday service where they presented the scope of work and ideas for the building project. After the presentation, and a question and answer period, the congregation voted unanimously to move forward with the project.
When the project broke ground, Keystruct hit rock, a lot of rock. The amount of rock and the location, directly adjacent to the existing structure, presented challenges during the initial stages of the project. Because Keystruct staff stayed in close contact with the church members and building committee, the client remained patient and flexible during the disruptions caused by the unexpected subsurface conditions. Extra effort was made to include everyone in the progress of the project, including a field trip for the pre-school students to visit the jobsite. The openness between Keystruct and the Zion congregation during a very stressful time kept the relationship strong.
As the project progressed, the church saw advantages that the addition of the elevator would bring to their facility. Pre-school and Sunday school students would ride to their classrooms on the second floor. Volunteers would no longer struggle as they carried food and supplies to the kitchen in the basement. Spaces that presented challenges to anyone with a physical limitation would now be easily accessible.
The finished addition blends seamlessly with the original structure, matching the existing brick, roofline, and shingles. ADA compliant restrooms on all levels were also part of the renovations, to provide accessibility throughout the building. People, food, school supplies, and other items can now be transported quickly and easily to any area of the building.
With the convenience offered by the elevator, new uses for spaces in the basement and the second floor give additional opportunities to share fellowship, outreach, and service to the community. Zion Lutheran can fully utilize their space to build more programs that support their mission. The new elevator brings to fruition a positive vision for the future of this dedicated congregation, lifting them to new heights with a solid foundation built on their faith.