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Trinity Lutheran soon to wrap up $13.9 million, three-year building project

By Pastor Devlyn Brooks

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- In a few short months, motorists driving historic Eighth Street in Moorhead will be able to look into the brand new commons area of Trinity Lutheran Church and see all that is taking place in this vibrant house of worship.

Thanks to a $13.9 million renovation project, Trinity Lutheran is replacing a decades old structure that contained labyrinthian halls and a host of past-their-prime spaces with a sleek new commons area that will serve as meeting place, community gathering space and educational classrooms all in one.

And this new structure which will be constructed with all-glass walls on all sides will fit snugly into a space surrounded by a renovated 1960s-era wing on the southwest end of the complex, a 1990s-era Community Life Center to the southeast and a beautiful 1950s-era sanctuary on the north end of the block.

Trinity Pastor Matt Peterson said the project wouldn’t have happened if the Trinity congregation hadn’t stepped out in faith a decade ago when the dream of this new space began to take shape.

“As faith leaders, given where we are at in the history of the church, even we have at times asked, ‘Is this the right use for these funds?’” Pastor Peterson said in a recent interview in the church’s basement fellowship hall which is serving as the church administration’s temporary “office suite.” “But we’re not only doing this for the people of Trinity; we want to open this up to the community as often as possible as a gathering place.”

Pastor Peterson said Trinity’s motto is “Called to be a light,” and this new structure will both symbolically shine a light on what’s happening inside the church by opening it up to the sunshine, but this project also will give the community an unobstructed look inside the church at all that is taking place in the name of God.

While the initial dream of this new space started taking shape in 2015, amid the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic in 2020, the Trinity leadership team had intentional conversations about whether the church still was called to move forward with this project. After all, church attendance habits were beginning to change, and worshiping online had become very popular at Trinity. But ultimately, the church decided it was worthwhile to press on with raising money for the renovation and to continue with construction.

“We are finding that people need face-to-face contact. We're losing those spaces in the community where people can be together. No one goes to the mall anymore, right?” he said. “Our worship buildings are becoming one of the last spaces for people to gather at. And there is value in providing a space for this to happen. When we come together in the same space, that is how faith is formed.”

Pastor Peterson said the building project swung the first sledge hammer in 2021 to kick off the first of two phases -- called Phase 1A and Phase 1B. And the project will wrap up late this summer or early fall thanks to a mild winter that has allowed for the construction to stay ahead of schedule.

Once finished, the completion of Phases 1A and 1B will have seen the demolish of the center part of the church complex that formerly housed administrative offices, a library, classrooms and a former lounge, and replace those former spaces with a modern, flexible space that will be encased in all glass, flooding the interior of the church with natural light.

In this new “commons” area, there will be a new administrative office suite, new meeting space and a new kitchen and coffee bar. This space will serve as a gathering place for both the worshippers who exit from the newer worship space in the Christian Life Center and from the traditional sanctuary on the church’s north side. Also, this new construction will allow Trinity to increase security of the building by limiting access to the church to two main doors.

The Trinity Lutheran Preschool, which was formerly housed in the lower levels of the structure that was demolished, is now housed in a former office wing that was added to the church complex’s southwest side in the 1960s. In Phase 1A of this construction project, that wing was renovated and updated so that it could serve as home to the preschool. And they were able to add 12 spots for infant care, which helps to address a great need in the Fargo-Moorhead area. In addition, on Wednesdays and Sundays, this space also now serves a dual purpose for faith education space.

In total, this three years of construction will run the church about $13.5 million, of which $10 million is pledged, and about $5 million of which has been collected. The church’s leadership is focused on closing the remaining funding gap in 2024.

“This is a significant investment that was years in the making,” Pastor Peterson said. “We’ve been blessed with very generous members, and this is a multi-generational effort.”

This project marks Trinity’s first construction project in more than a generation. The church’s Christian Life Center, which contains a contemporary worship space, kitchen and other amenities was completed in 1990. Prior to that the church completed the former administrative wing which now houses the preschool in the 1960s. And the current sanctuary was completed in the 1950s after a fire burned down the original church.

Pastor Peterson said the past three years of construction and fundraising has kind of felt like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness as the congregation tried to continue to support their ministerial programs like student education, the quiltmakers and other programming throughout the chaos of fundraising and active construction.

“It’s been a blessing to see the congregation be open and flexible so that we could move to a better future,” Pastor Peterson said.

Plans for an official unveiling of the completed project are still in the works.

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Please reach out to Pastor Devlyn Brooks at or 701.412.8733.