Church embarks on expansion

Posted: October 29, 2012

Star staff report

The Rev. Cameron Keyser (left) of Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City breaks ground Sunday morning on a $2 million, 10,500-square-foot addition, with help from the Rev. Bishop James Mauney of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

STEPHENS CITY — Historic Trinity Lutheran Church is about to get bigger.

On Sunday morning, church officials and congregants gathered to break ground on a $2 million, 10,500-square-foot addition for a new family life and administrative center.

The Rev. Cameron P. Keyser, who became pastor of the 249-year-old church last October when it had about 20 members, said the expansion is needed.

He was joined at the ceremony by the Rev. Bishop James Mauney of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Located on Fairfax Street, Trinity Lutheran’s average Sunday attendance is now about 110, Keyser said.

The addition, which will replace the existing parish hall, will be paid for with $1.3 million from a large bequest left to the church several years ago. The rest of the money will come from donations — $275,000 has already been pledged, leaving the church to raise $400,000 over three years.

“I think we can do it,” Keyser said of the fundraising. “This has been desperately needed for many years.”

The last time the church underwent any major improvements was 1949.

Construction should begin in March and be completed by December, Keyser said. Improvements also will be made to the sanctuary, built in 1908.

While the work is being done, the congregation will likely have to worship in another location, he said.

The bequest that’s helping fund the project was “rather large” for a church of Trinity’s size, Keyser said.

According to Keyser, the principal wasn’t touched for a number of years, but the interest — $80,000 to $100,000 annually — was gifted to charitable organizations.