NORWICH For many years, the basement of Norwich Lutheran Church, in Norwich, has been mostly under water, but thanks to renovations made recently, parishioners will likely not have to don their wetsuits and flippers when attending events in the church basement.
The basement of Norwich Lutheran Church flooded in the spring of 1989, 1995 and every spring after that until 2011 because of the high level of ground water. Over the past two and a half years, though, the congregation has slowly worked to raise funds, put in a drain tile system, remodel and renovate the area used for fellowship.
To celebrate the recent accomplishment, there will be a worship service at Norwich Lutheran Church on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m., followed by a rededication and potluck dinner. Bishop Mark Narum will be the guest to assist with the rededication of the fellowship hall.
Members of Norwich Lutheran Church gathered for their fall dinner held on Nov. 10, 2013, in their nearly finished basement that had been under renovation. The area flooded practically every year until it was remodeled. A rededication service will be held Sunday.
Teresa Loftesnes, a member of the church council for Norwich Lutheran Church, said there was water in the church basement several times and because of the high moisture content water was coming in. They had to have everything out of the basement, so Sunday school classrooms became storage rooms and some of City Hall was used as a storage area as well.
In April 2011, it was decided to install a drain tile system to alleviate the water problems, Loftesnes said. "But it was a financial challenge for a small congregation," she added. Everything was gutted in the basement and was also rewired, Loftesnes continued, and they did some plumbing and changed some heating ducts. Sheetrock was installed and texturing and painting were done, plus wiring for fluorescent lights was added. Other areas upstairs were also rewired. Additionally, there were new kitchen cabinets installed by a man who just moved to the area from Minnesota. "All of the contractors we used were from here or Minnesota," Loftesnes said. "So we bought local, you could say."
Council members of Norwich Lutheran Church held a special building appeal in January 2013 and asked fellow members and friends to contribute, raising nearly $10,000, Loftesnes said. They also used money collected from the offering and money from their savings, she added.
The remodeling of the church basement has been a two-year project. The basement was gutted in May 2011 and by the fall of November 2013, the carpet was installed and most of the remodeling was finished. The basement was used off and on for some events during the remodeling, she added. Loftesnes said they wanted to go through 2012 to make sure no water would come in the basement. The carpet was installed in late October of 2013 and they were able to have the church's fall dinner in the new basement on Nov. 10.
"We had so many parishioners step up to help," Loftesnes said about the remodeling project. "The parishioners really put in a lot of manual labor hours."
Norwich Lutheran Church's basement is used for many events including a quilting group that meets every week, fellowship after services, meals, Bible study group gatherings and receptions. "It's a full-use fellowship hall," Loftesnes said. There are more than 100 members of the church, she added, and approximately 30 are active members.
Members of the church are really excited about the newly remodeled basement, said Loftesnes, and are also excited that Narum will be there for the rededication service on Sunday. Anyone interested in joining the celebration is welcome to attend, she added.
"It's hard to believe where we were then and where we are now," Loftesnes said, about the two-year long remodeling of the basement.