Hudson church completes $2.5 million expansion

Centerpiece of project is 4,000-square-foot Ministry Center

PHIL KEREN Reporter
The Rev. Dr. Eric Tritten is pictured outside of the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Ravenna Street in Hudson. The church recently finished a $2.5 million expansion project, which includes a new 4,000 square foot Ministry Center.

HUDSON — The leader of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church said he is hoping a recently completed $2.5 million expansion that “almost doubled” the size of the building will bring more events and people to the Ravenna Street site.

The church hosted a dedication program in July, marking the conclusion of a 10-month project that added a 4,000-square-foot Ministry Center that can host large events, a new kitchen, an expanded lobby and a large nursery. At that program last month, small groups took turns touring the building and walked through areas that were marked to remind visitors to maintain distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Rev. Dr. Eric Tritten.

Tritten explained he and other Gloria Dei leaders assessed their situation before moving ahead on the expansion.

“We were looking at how do we welcome people from the community” How do we care for people with our facilities?” said Tritten, who noted the building’s accessibility needed to be improved for people who have mobility issues.

“When I got here, I want to say that we had one person who was in a wheelchair,” said Tritten. “Now … sometimes we’ve had as many as four or five people who have mobility issues come to the worship services and funeral services … Having [rooms] on two levels became a challenge.”

He noted his church has hosted a couple of “very large funerals” during the past several years. Following the service, attendees walked down to the fellowship hall on the church’s lower level for a meal and those gatherings were “very, very crowded,” said Tritten.

Spacing and mobility issues were challenges in those situations.

The church has also hosted some musical performances in its sanctuary, and Tritten said leadership felt they could host these events “differently and perhaps better with a larger space.”

The newly constructed Ministry Center on the first floor is a “very large multi-purpose room” that can be used to host dinners or events such as an Eagle Scout Court of Honor program, or function as a gymnasium for basketball and volleyball practices, camps and games. 

“We’re also looking to try to do more sports-oriented ministries,” said Tritten. “We started a football program a couple years ago, and, of course, [on] the second day it rains, so what do we do with all those people? Now we would be able to do something.”

If rows of chairs were set up in the Ministry Center, Tritten estimated the space could accommodate about 400 people. If tables with chairs were set up for a meal, the pastor said he believed seating would be available for 200-250. He added the church is hoping to host its own large events and rent out the center for people in the community to have programs and events.

Tritten said his congregation loves the sanctuary and wanted to preserve that area of the building for Sunday services. During the Christmas season, when Tritten said a large number of people come for holiday services, it might “make sense to do that really large service” in the Ministry Center — once the pandemic ends.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center has not been used yet and it’s not known when the first event will occur. Tritten noted he hoped to host a large gala event inside the center in October, but that’s been canceled.

Tritten said he is now hosting a Sunday service in the church’s parking lot.

Next to the Ministry Center is a new kitchen that has commercial grade warming and convection ovens.

“It’s quite nice,” said Tritten.

Someone who is catering an event could prepare dishes in advance, and then use the kitchen facility to keep the meals warm and put some finishing touches on them.

“They would have sufficient space and some of the proper tools to do that,” he said.

The older kitchen on the church’s lower level has a gas stove and two in-wall ovens. Tritten said there is a chef in the congregation who typically prepares a meal that is served at the church during the Christmas season. In the past, the chef would cook the meal at home, bring it in, and then use the in-wall ovens to keep the food warm. Now, with the new kitchen, Tritten said the chef could do some of the cooking onsite.

Other features of expansion, how it was funded

Other new features of the expansion are: a larger lobby with flexible seating for informal gatherings, a large nursery, sacristy and fully accessible restrooms. Tritten said the entrance area is about “three times bigger than it was” and offers a space where people “can wait comfortably.”  He added the nursery is “easily three times bigger than it was,” and is “much more welcoming than it was.” Previously, the space was crowded, but now Tritten said there is room for youngsters to move around, more areas for them to sit, and additional play station areas.

The project was funded through financing, as well as money the church had already set aside and additional donations from the congregants. The on-hand funds were raised for a previously planned expansion that did not happen, according to Tritten. He said they also took pledges and Tritten said he “was overwhelmed” by the church members’ generosity. 

“A significant portion of the pledges have already come in,” he said.

The original building was completed in 1968 with a second phase dedicated in 1988.

Members of the public may contact the church at  330-650-6550 if they are interested in renting out the Ministry Center.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.

The Rev. Dr. Eric Tritten points out some of the new expansions to the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Ravenna Street in Hudson.