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Earlier this year the council formally began the process of replacing the heating system used at Saint John’s. Council’s initial objective was to determine what could replace the system, how much it would cost, how long it would take to remove the current system and install the replacement and when the system could be replaced, with a tentative idea of trying to do it as early as the summer of 2018.

The current heating system is made up of five pumps and a natural gas-fueled boiler. This system has been in service at the church for 55 years, and was surplus from CSU when it was obtained! The boiler was built to heat a much larger space than we occupy and therefore uses much more fuel than needed. Over the years the Trustees have done minor repairs to the pumps and boiler, and were becoming concerned about the expense and availability of parts to repair the system components. Further, given the boiler’s age, there is no predicting when the boiler itself will fail and what it will take to repair it and return it to service when it does. That’s assuming it can be repaired; more than likely the church would be facing an unplanned expense of emergency replacement during the season it is needed most and while the church building is used the most.

Council member and Trustee Eric Gardner, who often works with this type of equipment at Colorado State University, put together the replacement requirements and sought bids, spending much time meeting with companies and liaising between them and Council. Council had all the bids in hand by early August.

At the August council meeting Council decided the bid from a local company called Tra Mar Mechanical was the best for the church due to the cost and the definition of the work that would be done on the heating system. To summarize, Tra Mar bid to remove the old system, replace the current boiler with two high efficiency boilers (for redundancy) each capable of providing 80% of the heat needed for the building and install five new pumps for $90,000. Based on the Tra Mar quote and a contingency for unplanned expenses, the Trustees recommended having approximately $95,000 available for the project. Due to the ongoing Garden of Remembrance campaign, Council was hesitant to move forward with another expensive building project, but continued research to see what funding might already be available for the project and what additional financing would be needed to complete it.

The current boiler, left, and the new boiler system, right.

In 2010 Council decided to begin setting aside the gifts that had started arriving from members’ “Thrivent Choice Dollars” designations for the future replacement of the heating system. At about the same time the Saint John’s Foundation began setting aside money for the boiler project, including money designated to the Foundation from the Thrivent Choice Dollars program. Finally, several members made special offerings designated for this project after the issue was mentioned at the April congregation meeting. Looking at the ledger, there is $47,781.42 available from Saint John’s and $47,218.58 from the Foundation, which means the boiler replacement project can be totally funded without a loan or capital campaign. God has provided what the church needed for this project: these gifts all came from the riches He has entrusted you to manage!

It’s worth repeating that a large portion of the money for this project came from the Thrivent Choice Dollars program. This is one of the programs Thrivent, as a member-owned fraternal benefit society, uses to distribute its proceeds to charities. Members may designate an amount of funds based on their portfolio with Thrivent to the charitable institution or institutions of their choice. Many thanks to all who have directed their Choice Dollars to Saint John’s Lutheran and the Foundation (and Open Arms Preschool, for that matter!).

Council decided at their September 11 meeting to proceed with the project. They opted to call a special congregation meeting for September 30 to inform the congregation the project was proceeding and address questions. After the congregation meeting, Council signed with Tra Mar. Tra Mar is now obtaining the replacement equipment so it will be available this winter in case of emergency. Barring that, the plan is to do the replacement in the Summer of 2019 after the heating system is shut down for the season and Open Arms Preschool is on summer break.

The thirteen members of the Church Council are the “Board of Directors” of the congregation, tasked with general oversight of the life and activities of the congregation to the end that everything be done in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws.