Well, the time has finally come! Zion Lutheran Church is complete and the congregation celebrated its opening with a Service of Dedication yesterday. It was a beautiful day and the event was well attended by folks from the church and community.
The service was presided over by Rev. Peter Froehlke and Rev. E. Roy Riley, Jr., who is Bishop fo the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. After the service, the church hosted an awesome Corn Roast with tons of great food, music and tours of the chuch and our new addition.
It really is an honor to be a part of this project, and we thank the folks at Zion for all their patience and team work to complete a really tough project. We also want to thank Twining Construction for their effort and the attention to the details that can make or break a project of this size and complexity. John McIntyre and his team really come through for us here!
One big story here though goes all the way back to the beginning of the project in 2007. When we were brought onto the team and given the site plan, we were shocked by the number and configuration of 'constraints' that the site had. To the south of the site lay the South Branch of the Raritan River and that meant the site had numerous floodplain and wetlands restrictions. To add to that, the church property was bisected by an enormous sewer and water utility easement, hence the somewhat triangular shape of the final building.
In the course of the design work, we set the floor of the new building to be almost a foot over the flood water level that is set by the government. Never did we think that we would ever test that elevation. But during the week of August 28 and then again the following week, Hurricane Irene and the remanents of Tropical Storm Lee dumped well over a foot of rain into the Raritan River basin and pushed the South Branch over its banks.
If you look closely, that is the river going right into the front door of the church. With the exception of the stair landings, which are at grade level, the new buidling escaped the highwater. Too bad the whole site did not. Thanks to the Long Valley Patch for the use of the photos from the flood.
This is the rear of the church showing the parking lot and pre-school play area, and yes, that shed is floating away.
Thankfully, the most damage sustained by the church was some wet carpets and furniture. As I commented to several members at the service yesterday, since that was a 100+ year high water event, maybe they will never have to deal with it in their life times again. Let's hope that is a true statement!