Facility Master Planning

FAITHFUL STEPS TO REDEEMER'S MASTER PLAN

Redeemer is taking Faithful Steps to envision and plan our future in Midtown Atlanta. Stay up to date here as we walk and plan together.

Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is engaged in an exciting and comprehensive master planning process for the future of our entire campus. It is the next Faithful Step in a process that began with the development of our Strategic Plan in 2020, which calls us to “Growing Faithfully, Serving Boldly.”  These words call each of us to evaluate our spiritual growth and our role at Redeemer and call us to evaluate how we use the resources of our campus to pursue our vision and mission to create a community that, in word and deed, reflects the love of Christ.

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Our congregation, with the engagement of the community around us, will vision Redeemer into the next century and define how Redeemer can leverage and develop our God-given resources to support, sustain and expand our mission.  This vision is grounded in the five goals of our Strategic Plan:

  1. Align, Communicate and Live the Vision and Mission of the Church;
  2. Service and Outreach;
  3. Deepen Relationships and Participation;
  4. Center of Community Life and Faith;
  5. Design our Financial Future.

Key to this undertaking will be to seek our Lord’s constant guidance, significant congregational engagement, thoughtful consideration of how we shape our future ministries, enlisting outside expertise, and many discussions and decisions over several months or years.

Please join us here for updates and information as we take these Faithful Steps together!  And join us in person at Redeemer for visioning and planning sessions as we take Faithful Steps to Grow.

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Master Planning Frequently Asked Questions

We've been unplugged from this process, what's going on?

As you know, our church is blessed abundantly with valuable land. This land is a gift from God, and we must be good stewards. That means using it in a way that honors God and benefits our community. For 120 years Redeemer has led our community with courage and full faith that God will provide in abundance. Remember, visionaries who preceded us acquired this property in the middle of the Great Depression and none of these buildings existed 75 years ago. Generations before us took faithful steps and extraordinary risks to envision Redeemer’s future in Midtown. They built assets that would facilitate the continued growth of the congregation and expand our impact on the Midtown community around us for hundreds of years.

In furtherance of the Strategic Plan adopted in January of 2020, Council formed the Facility Master Planning Committee who, following a lengthy vetting process of over 40 firms, engaged our consultants Lord Aeck Sargent and Ennead Architects to lead us through the first phase of developing our Facility Master Plan which is “Visioning and Site Analysis” (see timeline below). Over the course of four months in 2022, our consultants led our 10 Subject Area Groups through a series of charrettes to create the Program Description outlined in the Facility Master Plan Visioning Summary presented to Council and the Congregation on December 1, 2022.

In 2023, the Management Team and our consultants began to finalize the Concept and Master Planning and Financial Analysis and Cost Estimation phases of Redeemer’s Facility Master Plan.  Collaborating with Council, the Facility Master Planning Advisory Committee and the Congregation, we incorporated invaluable input into a plan for Redeemer’s future.  Our goal has always been to be consistent with the Mission and Vision of Redeemer while focusing on Goal 5 of the Strategic Plan.

Goal 5 of the Strategic Plan states that we will ensure the sustainability and long-term vitality of Redeemer’s witness and mission.  Specifically, the Facility Master Planning Committee is working on long-term action #2: Develop our properties in support of our mission.

The Facility Master Plan Conceptual Design Overview (see below) was shared with the congregation on August 6, 2023.  This overview illustrates two conceptual options from different street views and floor levels.  We continue to gather congregational input as we work toward the final phase of our Facility Master Plan, Congregational Review and Action, this fall.

The scope of this project includes every ministry. How can newly identified spaces in the Facility Master Plan better advance Redeemer’s Ministry Programs?

This vision is grounded in all five goals of our Strategic Plan which are now ministry in action as evidenced by all of the amazing ways we as a Congregation stay connected to the Word, prayer, music and our expanding Redeemer and Midtown community. Our goals being:

  1. Align, Communicate and Live the Vision and Mission of the Church;
  2. Service and Outreach;
  3. Deepen Relationships and Participation;
  4. Center of Community Life and Faith;
  5. Design our Financial Future.

The Visioning Sessions identified a number of new spaces needed for the campus, in addition to improvements to existing facilities.  Some examples follow.

How can newly identified spaces advance Redeemer’s Worship and Music Ministry?

Worship and music are core to Redeemer’s mission and future. We have a distinguished reputation and presence as the Lutheran congregation in Atlanta with formal worship, jazz worship, and excellence in the music program. Enhancements to our worship space will allow us to continue to build on this strong legacy.

From all our recent discussions over the past year with staff and highly interested congregation members, the following areas were identified as needing improvement/enhancement to ensure excellence in our music and worship experiences:

  • Adequate storage for printed music, instruments, and related equipment near to rehearsal and worship/performance spaces
  • Dedicated handbell rehearsal space, on the same level as worship/performance space
  • Worship/performance space with configurable seating for 100-200 people, adjustable acoustics, adjacent storage for instruments and equipment, including a grand piano
  • Enhancements to current sanctuary, including:
    • mobility accessibility to the chancel/altar
    • better chancel lighting, especially for choir
    • greater space between the front pew and chancel
    • adequate storage space for instruments and equipment adjacent to the sanctuary
    • microphones in the chancel providing better coverage for music performance in the chancel
  • Expanded liturgical storage space/sacristy/vestry
  • Outdoor worship space covered if possible
  • Outdoor prayer/meditation space/labyrinth/garden
  • Small prayer chapel, open to the public
  • Bell Tower to engage Midtown with music and a call to prayer and worship
  • Virtual narthex

Benefits to Redeemer: Being able to better organize and group our rehearsal and storage space related to music and worship will allow us to better use staff and volunteer time and better secure and care for our physical assets. The addition of a medium-size and more flexible worship and performance space will allow us to host a wider variety of events and will contribute to greater interaction between leaders/performers and congregation/audience in all types of classes, worship services, concerts, and other events. The improvements to our current sanctuary will allow accessibility to the altar, chancel, and choir for those with limited mobility; better flow and access to participate in communion and the choir; and better-appointed, protected, and appropriate storage for all our worship and music materials and equipment. The addition of the public chapel, Bell Tower and virtual narthex facilitate expanded engagement with our Midtown neighbors through access to music, worship and public prayer and meditation space. All of these enhancements allow us to build on and advance Redeemer’s quality of music and worship experiences that have been built over many decades.

How can newly identified spaces advance Redeemer’s Youth and Young People's Ministry?

Youth are a symbol of a church alive.  We celebrate as young people Affirm their Baptism and share their faith during Confirmation worship services.  We applaud when they share their talents with our church and Midtown community through youth choirs and volunteering for VBS.  And we support them as they spread their wings to serve others through mission trips locally and abroad.  But how do we keep those youth engaged in ministry at a Midtown church when frequently it is far from their local communities and doesn’t offer the same amenities?  We must have the facilities that allow them to build relationships with each other instead of having to travel to other churches and off-site locations which we have had to do many times.

Part of Redeemer’s mission is to “equip people to be living testaments of the Lutheran faith in Atlanta and beyond.”  To accomplish this mission, we must maintain facilities that invite our Youth and young people from the community to engage in Youth Ministry at Redeemer.  From our 3-year middle school Confirmation program through high school and even into post-secondary life, we strive “to help families and the congregation fulfill their baptismal promises and create a missional environment that empowers youth to name the faith they profess, claim their power to make a difference, act in service towards others and celebrate the gifts that God has given them.”  These goals align with our Strategic Plan in a unique way by centering the Youth of our church as both the recipients and distributors of Redeemer’s gifts.

Part of our 2023 Youth Ministry goals is to make it easy for youth and their parents to participate in bonding experiences that help our families prioritize the Redeemer faith community.  To deepen relationships and participation and achieve this goal, we believe the following additional facilities are needed:

  • Designated Confirmation Large & Small Group Spaces to learn, gather and connect with one another. They now use shared and/or inadequate spaces.
  • Designated lockable/consolidated Storage Space for décor, activity items, retreat and faith formation materials. It is currently scattered and open.
  • Gym or Family Life Center dedicated for activity/recreation space to be used by the entire congregation, but specifically for Youth to utilize for lock-ins, games, and activities to attract youth. We currently have no space for these activities.
  • Outdoor Pavilion and/or Green Space is needed for fresh air activity and classroom space.Currently we do not have a private, safe and secure green space for our youth or our students. We regularly go to other churches or off-site for these facilities.

New and updated facilities would be a game-changer for our Youth.  Constantly competing with the amenities at suburban churches has left us at a disadvantage in attracting and maintaining our Youth and their families.

How can newly identified spaces advance Redeemer’s Community Engagement and Food Ministry?

Community Engagement is a central part of Redeemer’s Strategic Plan.  Our goal has always been to welcome everyone as we create programs to serve the underserved and disadvantaged. For over 40 years, the Lutheran Community Food Ministry (LCFM) has been the cornerstone of our outreach. Started as an overflow warming location for members of Atlanta’s homeless population, the LCFM has grown to serve our Midtown neighbors experiencing food insecurity, including in-town workers, Lutheran Towers’ residents, and Georgia Tech students, while never forgetting our friends confronting unstable housing options. Redeemer needs updated and expanded facilities to respond to the changing needs of our community which is increasingly more food distribution.  A modern commercial kitchen along with a loading dock will allow us to safely and efficiently feed our neighbors. With a new and expanded dining area, we can break bread with our guests and get to better understand the needs and wants of our community.

We also hope to continue engaging people in Midtown Atlanta and beyond through new event spaces, worship spaces, and performance venues. Martin Luther once wrote, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” We want to share this gift from Redeemer’s front door with outdoor event spaces and prayer gardens and chapels and a new bell tower “that will share music with everyone in honor of God.” We also want to bring in more families and grow our membership by building a gymnasium and performance venue that can also serve the needs of our growing neighborhood.

These facilities will allow us to offer support to other nonprofits serving in Midtown. Together we can create and sustain an environment that lives in community. It will encourage our neighbors, both those who live and those who work in Midtown to join us as we serve together, enjoy music/art/activities/meals together and hopefully Worship together.

How can newly identified spaces advance Redeemer’s Preschool Ministry?

Redeemer’s preschool plays a significant role in achieving a number of the goals identified in our Strategic Plan.  For ten years we have celebrated our success in reaching out to the community around us and welcoming new children and families into the ministry at Redeemer.  These children are wrapped in an environment that provides a safe and rigorous academic experience while introducing/re-enforcing a life of faith to both the children and parents. We have attracted new members and given Redeemer positive community visibility which encourages others to come and serve with our members.

The hope and goal of this program was always to grow, to touch more children and to provide greater support to their parents by extending the program to a full day from the current half day offering.  Making this happen requires us to meet certain educational facilities regulations and our space is not capable of modification to make that happen.

In addition, to optimize this ministry and attract more families, the preschool and its board have identified ways to enhance our impact on these children and make our operations more efficient. These include offering art/sensory/science space, providing a kitchen for teaching, experiments and serving, enhanced security, safe pick up and drop off, full outdoor recreation with proper equipment, outdoor garden/nature classroom and resource rooms that expand opportunities for teachers and children.

Creating this new, expanded, and exciting ministry will bring in more families, serve our neighbors and grow our younger population. Each of the issues raised by the preschool was included in the planning and offers an expanded, safe and activity supportive space for this program.

How can newly identified spaces advance Redeemer’s Hospitality?

Hospitality is foundational to ministry at Redeemer and the partner of evangelism.  Both are about embracing our congregation and the community in a welcoming, inspirational, and supportive manner.  It is about offering excellence in ministries and activities.

The vision of creating a reputation for Redeemer that speaks of incredible experiences, that happen in extraordinary spaces surrounded by open and welcoming members and staff, is the foundation of Hospitality. It will inspire the next 100 years of ministry.

It begins with truly welcoming the congregant and the Midtown neighbor equally and offering them the ministries and service opportunities to which they respond.  Whether it is full-service weddings/receptions, simple and easy access to the entire facility with easy parking, spaces for meetings small to large or contemporary worship that can seamlessly become a professional concert venue or gathering space for large functions in midtown; it focuses on those we are serving.

Our sanctuary is exceptional but not well known.  Highlighting this treasure through expanded worship and programming will introduce Redeemer to Atlanta.  Worship wrapped in community-building events such as large dinners, pre and post event gatherings of all kinds, catered and provided by staff, large and small, many of which would be sponsored by people leading the gatherings is hospitality. Offering outdoor spaces, open to the public, will give everyone a respite in a busy world.  The Facility Master Plan is for development of a Christ-centered place that speaks clearly to everyone, members and community, that ALL are welcome.

How can newly identified spaces advance Redeemer’s Accessibility and Connection to the Midtown Community?

In all of our ideas and dreams for the future of our facilities, one question remains paramount: How can we develop our facilities to enhance and expand the mission of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer?  Specifically, how can we become:

  • The Front Porch of Midtown
  • A Community of Welcome for All People
  • A Center of Community Life and Faith

Woven throughout all of our ideas is the commitment to be welcoming and accessible to our members and our neighbors.  We first need to remove barriers that discourage welcome and connection, whether they be physical, visual, or even aural.  Anyone who has had a physical challenge knows how difficult it can be to access parts of our building.  But sometimes it is just visual cues, such as signage, the placement of entrances, or even traffic flow within a building that determine whether one feels welcome in a place or not.

We also hope to enhance and build areas that encourage connection, such as shared green spaces, spaces for community programming, or even welcoming corners for personal conversation.  We currently have very limited accessible gathering spaces for our community.  We particularly hope to become more connected, both visually and physically, to our frontage on Peachtree Street.  From a central gathering area, to a virtual narthex on the Peachtree level, to one dining area where everyone can eat together; our hope is to make sure that every person who comes through our doors, or even just walks by them, knows beyond a doubt they are welcome here.

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What is the cost estimate for each option and how will the plan be financed?

Options A and B are not the final design, but they show us how we can make our dreams come true as we continue to refine our Vision and plans to “Grow Faithfully and Serve Boldly.” We have engaged another team of congregants, the Financial Analysis Coordination Team (FACT) to develop financial principles which will guide our Council and Congregation in any next steps with transactions as we continue to steward and grow the value of Redeemer’s physical assets. These principles will be part of the final report of the Facility Master Plan to Council for review and publication to the Congregation in November.

 

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How does the Operating Budget of Redeemer relate to the financing of the Facility Master Plan?

The growth and vibrancy of our congregation is directly related to the financial growth of Redeemer.  Over 120 years we have purchased and maintained physical assets that allowed for growth and flexibility to change with the times.  We are committed to continue to grow our physical assets.  The Facility Master Plan will give us the map to how we reposition our land/structure ownership to make this possible.

The operational budget that funds the staff and maintenance of our land and buildings is supported by the annual contributions by our members. If we are committed to growing our ministries, we must assume responsibility for the budget that is required to make that happen.

As we implement the Facility Master Plan, the operational costs will be projected as well as any offsetting income from spaces that we build that can serve our community.  These include areas like parking, event fees for performances/concerts, sports clubs and commercial space, and other unlocked potential. 

What happens to the property on the north side of 4th Street? Who is assessing opportunities for income generation and management?

The use of the north side of 4th Street would be determined during a search for a 3rd party development partner to be approved by the Congregation. The current Facility Master Plan options do not suggest any direct church uses for the north side of 4th Street.

The Financial Analysis Coordination Team (FACT), which is made up of Redeemer members, independent of the Facility Master Planning Management Team, is reviewing the potential value of the site. The team is developing a list of financial principles to guide Council and the Congregation on the types of monetization structures that could be considered. These principles will be part of the final report of the Facility Master Plan to Council for review and publication to the Congregation in November.

When would construction begin and how long would it take to complete? Will the project be done in multiple phases? Will we be able to continue to operate as a church during each of the phases?

A well-executed plan will allow us to phase our building and provide many opportunities for the Congregation to contribute to its implementation. The absolute fastest that any construction could start would be 2-3 years and could take longer.  A preliminary phasing line is included in the options shared on Aug 6th and online. By developing in phases, the church would continue to operate in the existing facilities (except Schroeder Building) during the first phase of construction. Future phases may commence at any time over many years based on factors that could include the size of the congregation, the use of space and other financial considerations.

How can I get information on specific details, such as number of parking spaces, number of classrooms, etc.?

Further Facility Master Plan details can be found on below.  Please see the Conceptual Design SAG Presentation dated August 6, 2023.

Do we have a plan for the upgrades/modifications and related accessibility needs to the Sanctuary building? How does the entry off Peachtree Street connecting to the Narthex achieve these needs?

Our Sanctuary building is central to the life at Redeemer and will be protected in any Facility Master Planning development project.  However, the Sanctuary itself faces significant maintenance and upgrades to ensure the quality of our worship experience continues to reflect the excellence we expect. These repairs are immediate and need to be accomplished long before the first phase of the Facility Master Plan which might take several years to begin. Most of the items fall into the short-term general maintenance program and will be funded by operating funds, funds at the direction of Council, and/or special appeals.

 

Redeemer has scheduled three major projects to be accomplished in the next year to existing facilities:

  • Electrical/lighting systems upgrade/renovation and roof replacement.
  • Sound system equipment additions/replacements, upgrades to the interface and speakers.
  • Major maintenance to our organ has already begun and will continue over the next year, including the replacement of 156 of 4000 pipes.

Our Facility Master Planning effort has focused on longer term projects that address how the Sanctuary building can, for the next 100 years, better serve our congregation and our community.

 

The Facility Master Plan looks at how we can modify or add to our spaces to make new or expanded ministries possible, reach more people, serve their needs better and function more effectively. We believe that the growth and vibrancy of our congregation will be dependent on our ability to:

  • Make our church accessible and welcoming to everyone (in the sanctuary and throughout our buildings) and make their experience inspirational, efficient, and engaging.
  • To embrace and lead our community, both internal to Redeemer and those living and working in Midtown; in fellowship, generosity, and improving the lives of everyone.
  • Attract an engaged congregation by offering ministries of excellence full of faith, joy, creativity, challenge, and service.
  • Give Redeemer an identity in Midtown by opening a new space that functions as the new front door on Peachtree Street where those on the sidewalk can see into the building and through technology see what is happening in the Sanctuary and in activity areas.

The Sanctuary building alone will see new entries and the placing of active programming on Peachtree and 4thStreets to draw in our neighbors.  We will have a recognizable presence in Midtown that welcomes our neighbors into a street level Virtual Narthex that offers live streaming of worship and service projects.  It will address all accessibility issues that keep people out or make participation difficult and add opportunities for broader and deeper engagement with all members. This will include the redevelopment of the entire basement area.  It will give us the resources to grow our congregation.

All the planned changes to the Sanctuary building exclusive of the Sanctuary itself will be completed in one of the early phases of the Facility Master Plan.  They will improve access and connections to other spaces, accommodate growth in the congregation and offer new badly needed and properly sized and placed support spaces for worship and music.  Through redevelopment, the logistics we overcome in our present configuration will solve the challenges that face our tellers and worship assistants (vestments, sacristy, etc.).

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NEW: MASTER PLANNING – CONCEPTUAL DESIGN

As we move past the Visioning and Space Categorization phases we are nearing the end of the Concept and Master Planning phase. Thank you to all of those members who joined us during this crucial stage in the Master Planning process. We gathered together with over 100 members on August 6th to share and discuss two conceptual design options. Your thoughtful questions and comments were wonderful input for our Management Team and consultants Lord Aeck Sargent/Ennead Architects, to consider. The August 6th presentation below reviews the process and illustrates the two options from different street views and floor levels. For those unable to join us, please take this opportunity to review the options and ask Management Team or Council members any questions you may have. This is our collective vision for Redeemer and we want all voices heard.

We continue to work toward the final phase of our campus master plan, Congregational Review and Action, and look forward to additional congregation input at a Temple Talk and Listening Post on Sunday, September 17th as we share the culmination of our hopes and dreams for Redeemer. With your input, we will create and celebrate a final report of the Facilities Master Plan for Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

Below is the Conceptual Design Presentation available to all congregation members to view.

MASTER PLANNING – VISIONING SUMMARY

As part of our Strategic Plan, adopted in January of 2020, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta, engaged Lord Aeck Sargent, working in collaboration with Ennead Architects, to develop a campus master plan and conceptual design.

The first phases of this project consisted of Visioning and Site Analysis. To facilitate the Visioning Phase, the Project Management Team, comprised of members of the congregation and the Senior Pastor, organized nine Subject Area Groups: Worship, Music, Education, Young People, Hospitality, Member Care, Community Engagement, Finance, and Technology.

After first meeting with representatives of each of these groups to establish a baseline understanding of the current use of facilities, Lord Aeck Sargent (LAS) conducted a series of visioning sessions in which participants were invited to imagine how the enhancement or expansion of existing facilities might allow the congregation more fully to realize its vision and mission.

Below is the outcome of these sessions, available to all congregation members to view.

LATEST UPDATES FROM OUR MASTER PLANNING COMMITTEE

Master Planning Update
WE HEARD YOU! Thank you for your feedback during our Conceptual Design Listening Post in September.
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Master Planning Update – July/August 2023
Join us on SUNDAY, September 17th after both services in Rudisill Hall for a Master Planning Listening Post and update
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Master Planning Presentation
Join us on SUNDAY, AUGUST 6th at 12:30PM in Rudisill Hall OR via ZOOM for a Master Planning presentation.
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UPCOMING MEETINGS AND ACTIVITIES

February 2024

Serve

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MASTER PLANNING MANAGEMENT TEAM

Jay Puckhaber – Co-Chair • Janet Preston – Co-Chair • Nikki Chunn – Coordinator

Carol BellCharles BridgersEmily Cooper
Doug DumontBilly FullerCindy Holler
Paul IsaacsonCheryl IversonClaire Puckhaber
Sally RosserPaul RosserJana Thomas
Richard Spady - PresidentErin Hull - Council LiaisonLew Engle - Council Liaison
Pastor Mark LarsonPastor Ron Bonner
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SUBJECT AREA GROUPS

Volunteers representing the following groups are participating in the planning process

Community OutreachMember CareWorshipHospitality
Community EngagementCongregational CareAltar GuildLutheran Church Food Ministry
Diversity and JusticeStephen MinistryTellers and UshersCommunity hospitality
Faithful ConnectionsWellnessWorship AssistantsCongregant hospitality
Community AccessVisitationRejoicing SpiritsGreeters
Special Needs MinistryKeystoneWorship CommitteeQuilters
Membership DevelopmentVineyardsProperty
Strategic PartnershipYoung Adult
Education and Young PeopleMusicTechnologyFinancial Development
Faith FormationFriends of MusicDigital MediaFund Development
Adult EducationChoir (adult and children)CommunicationsStewardship
Small GroupsInstrumentalistsBroadcastingLegacy Giving
Children and FamilyOrgan ScholarWebsiteFinance
PreschoolBellsLibrary
NurseryWorship Tech
YouthElectronic Security
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