With a little assistance from the community and its congregation, Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland will get a fresh new look Saturday.
The church’s 50-foot aluminum steeple will be lifted from its perch above the worship sanctuary, polished and buffed right there in the parking lot, then put back up all in the same day.
Church members will also be working to add about 98 funeral urn niches to the onsite columbarium and spreading out about 18 cubic yards of wood chips across the playground.
“It’s going to be a fun day,” Pastor Jim Lindus said.
The list of projects is part of ongoing improvements to church facilities. Efficiencies have been made to the heating systems, waterless urinals have been added to men’s restrooms and the church was recently outfitted with photovoltaic panels.
Installed by Coupeville-based Whidbey Wind and Sun, the panels on the southern roof should provide the building with enough power to make the church almost totally self sufficient.
Lindus said the plan was to flip the proverbial switch sometime this week.
“We’re going off the grid,” he said, with a smile.
The improvements were a conscious decision to make the church more sustainable. As a community leader, Lindus said church leaders felt they needed to make that statement and lead by example.
As for the work this week, it’s more related to maintenance of existing facilities. New playground chips have to be put in every few years and the steeple was beginning to show signs of wear.
Erected in 1996 when the church was built, it was constructed by nearby Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. The company did all the fabrication for free and helped put it up.
“The Nichols family doesn’t go to our church but they have always been great neighbors to us,” he said.
Holding to tradition, shipyard workers will be out Saturday to refurbish the cross again. The old white paint will be sandblasted off and the metal polished to a gleam, making it more reflective in the sun.
CEO Matt Nichols said this is a way of giving back to the community, particularly to an organization that has done much good for South Whidbey.
“Anybody who’s doing great things like they are, we want to do what we can to help them,” Nichols said.
Nichols admits he also has a soft spot for Trinity Lutheran Church. It’s where he and his wife, Cassie, were married 42 years ago, he said.
Also donating time and materials is Hanson Building Supply. The company is providing, free of charge, the 11-ton crane that will be used to hoist the steeple from the roof and an operator.
It will also be lifting the large skylight just below the steeple. It has become clouded and is being replaced.
Company President Victor Hanson brushed off praise for the donations, saying it’s something they try to do regularly for charitable organizations like Trinity Lutheran.
Lindus said the event is open to the public, though he jokingly warned that onlookers may be put to work. Work begins at about 10 a.m.