Design for Innovation
 
 

BETHEL LUTHERAN CHURCH

Interview with Tim Hawk

“I’m too distracted. I can’t even do this,” Tim said as we sat at the conference room table with my puppy, Loretta, resting her cute, little, face on the edge. “Do you think she’ll have a mean streak and eat children?”

Bethel Lutheran Church was renovated in three phases during a time of Lutheran transition. It was essentially a four room building: the sanctuary, the fellowship area with makeshift classrooms for Sunday school, the pastor’s office, and the restrooms. At this time, they had 100 or so members. Growth just wasn’t being supported within the walls of the existing church. Pastor Peter Ray had a vision to evolve the church to appeal to young families and expand their relevancy in the community. It was the goal to be able to say “The high school is next to Bethel Lutheran Church” rather than “The church next to the high school.”

The first project was a renovation of the fellowship area and Sunday school space. They were able to take the space and create as well as maintain a preschool. After that renovation, a comprehensive master plan was put into action, including a new sanctuary.

Pastor Ray was traditional in his liturgy, but everything else was equipped to be infinitely flexible. There were no fixed pews. The music area wasn’t in a fixed position. The communion table was movable. The only stationary zone was the baptismal font positioned adjacent to the entrance of the sanctuary as a remembrance of faith.

“Okay, so the last project was the sanctuary and since they’ve done that, they’ve grown to over 600 families. It’s not just the architecture. It’s his vision and his personality, but I feel like the architecture helped him legitimize the vision. In order to do that, we had to become more evangelical. The true meaning of that is not what you find in the media; it’s being proud and balancing the requirements of being noticed with being restrained,” Tim said beautifully.

This project was special to Tim because it exemplifies longevity. The project was completed 11 years ago and it still feels fresh. “I’m hoping it still feels like this in ten years,” he said. “It embodies the whole idea of transitioning people to something new without jarring them. It’s special. Okay?”

2004 Pop Culture Facts

She’s hanging out in her house with her girlfriends one day after watching The Notebook. She hops on to this newfangled thing called The Facebook and posts this status: “If I’m a bird, you’re a bird.” Right? After posting that, she’s depressed because they just die in the end anyway and she’s all like “What is life about even?” as every young person does before transitioning into the rest of their life. But then she remembers all ten seasons of Friends and she remembers that life is all about a journey, not a destination and even though Friends ended, the lasting impact lives on. “I’ll be there for you,” she says to her friends. And she means it.