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Trinity Lutheran Church
By: Jennifer Walker-Journey

All the congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church wanted was to be the "light on the hill" for the people of northwest Johnson County, Kansas. The church had planted a campus in the Kansas City, Missouri, suburb of Shawnee, Kansas, a few years earlier, first making its home in an elementary school and then moving to lease space in an office strip center. The location was less than ideal.

"We wanted to have a place that was visible, a place that was unique," said Larry Conrad, administrator with Trinity. Church leadership searched for more than two years for an ideal location to build.

"Each time, there were obstacles thrown our way," Conrad said. "It was either the location or it was priced out of our range. But then we just happened to stumble on this property that was up for sale and I think it was all God's timing."

The property consisted of eight acres near a major road that funneled traffic from numerous bedroom communities into the city center. It was perfect for the future site of the church. With the property issue solved, church leadership turned to Harmon Construction to help design and build its dream. Harmon helped recruit the architect to design plans.

Church members were focused on two needs. First, they wanted more space for their daycare. Second, they wanted a campus that could expand as the church grew. Architects designed a master plan that included a large narthex, 150-seat sanctuary, three classrooms, four preschool rooms, two kitchenettes, a music room and a sacristy, storage rooms, and a multipurpose area. The building was carefully designed so that the daycare and the sanctuary could be expanded and a multipurpose room added as membership grew. The plans also called for a large fenced-in playground and two levels of parking for 60-plus vehicles.

On the property was an old barn set atop a slight hill, which Conrad says most commercial businesses would have quickly torn down. But the design-build team saw it as a feature that could be repurposed to not only add visual appeal to the project, but also save the church thousands in construction costs.

The plans were quickly approved and construction began in June 2010. The old bar was gutted but the core remained, giving the church a strong foundation to build from. The exterior was designed rustic with stone veneer, cedar siding and exposed timbers to complement the barn.

"We were also able to salvage very old lumber from the floor of the barn and use it as exposed beans in the entry and preschool ceiling and as part of the staircase," said Tim Harmon, president of Harmon Construction. "We have found markings on the wood dating back to the early 1900s from a place in Louisiana."

As the project neared completion, the salvaged wood provided another benefit.

"We also were able to integrate the wood with a couple of I-beans and construct a cross in the parking lot that stands over 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide," Harmon said.

Crews worked long hours and weekends on the project, and, seven months after construction began, the job was completed. Trinity dedicated the building the weekend of January 29, 2011.

"We've had positive response from our members and from preschool families who are not members of our church. And the kids are excited. They have more space. It's just a fun place for kids to be in," Conrad said. "I think credit goes to Harmon for helping us achieve our goal and helping us contain costs and really being a partner in that process."

The church is so new that leadership has yet to see how well its new building will be received, but it has already created positive buzz in the community.

Harmon Construction, based in Olathe, Kansas, has been providing construction management solutions since 1987, www.harmonconst.com.

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