No Room In The Inn

Wally was big for his age, seven-years-old. Everyone wondered what role the teacher would give him in the annual Christmas play. Especially considering the fact that he was also a slow learner. Perhaps he could pull the curtain. To everyone’s surprise the teacher gave Wally the role of the innkeeper. The boy of course was delighted. After all, all he had to learn was one line: “There is no room in the inn.” He had that down in no time.

Then came the night for the program. The parents took their places. Every seat in the auditorium was filled. The children entered singing "Oh come all ye faithful." The lights dimmed. A hush moved over the audience. The curtain opened on Scene One. Mary and Joseph entered the stage and walked up to the inn. "Please sir, my wife is not well. Could we have a room for the night?” Wally was ready for his line. He had re-hearsed it all night. He began, there is…and he hesitated. He started over again. There is. . .and again his mind went completely blank. Everyone was embarrassed for him but poor Wally just didn't know what to do. Joseph thought he would improvise and started walking away toward the stable on stage left. Seeing him walking away Wally in desperation called out: “Look, there's plenty of room at my house, just come on home with me."

That seems a rather delightful twist on a familiar story. Over the years the characters in the Christmas story have become clearly defined for us. Herod was a villain and the wise men were heroes. The shepherds were heroes and the Innkeeper--well, the poor innkeeper has gone down as one of the heavies in the story.

But perhaps the innkeeper has received bad press. Preachers over the centuries have had a field day with the poor fellow. But was it his fault that the inn was built with twelve rooms instead of thirteen? Was it his fault that Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that the entire world should be taxed? Was it his fault that Mary and Jo-seph were so late in arriving?

Luke takes this one line, “There is no room in the inn,” and shows us how this phrase was recurrent throughout Jesus’ ministry. The question that Luke leaves for us is--will there ever be any room for him?
There was no room for Jesus in the economic world.
There was no room for Jesus in the legal realm.
There was no room for Jesus in the realm of the religious order.
There was no room for Jesus in the world of politics.
Wherever Jesus turned there was no room for him. What began first in Bethlehem when the innkeeper turned him away was to become a recurrent theme. Let’s look at us today--to you and to me. Do we have room for Christ in our lives? When the innkeeper was presented with this unexpected situation that night, he faced what I call our universal dilemma. At that point he became like all of us when we are asked: Do we have room for the Mes-siah?

The fact is that the Messiah comes knocking at the door of our hearts many times in life, in various ways, through various people, in various events.

The innkeeper claimed that he had no room. Isn't the crowded inn a rather appropriate symbol of our lives? So cluttered that there is just no time, no energy, no money, and no room left over. There is just no room in our lives for the Messiah.

So the advent message to us is to watch and wait. Keep our minds and our hearts open for his coming. For the hour approaches when Messiah will come to you and to me. And like the Bethlehem innkeeper we will be forced to make a decision. Will our lives be so cluttered with incidentals that there will be no room for God? Or will we open the door and gladly welcome him in.

Let’s be like Wally and call out: “Look, there's plenty of room at my house, just come on home with me."

Merry Christmas!
Pastor Tim

Remodeling/Visioning News

Overall/General:

Space Needs

There were a few topics that related to overall building that were voiced in the course of all the discussions.

Access and Wayfinding

  • Accessibility should be provided to all levels of the
  • Accessibility for Sunday School spaces in the basement for handicapped
  • Need to address where at least the option of an elevator can be located before any other work is
  • Ramping is not a great way to solve access issues: they require the same amount of exertion/steps taken as using physical
  • Difficulty of the steep steps at the front 11th Avenue
  • Staffing might be able to address wayfinding concerns:
    • Usher/volunteer to direct people from all entrances to worship area, especially from the auditorium.
    • It would be good to place greeters at all doors on Sunday so they can be open. Then when church begins, the doors can be
  • Clear signage to assist with way‐finding: Have a map at each door to tell you where to go for the nearest bathroom, the Sanctuary and
  • Parking needs to be coordinated with
  • Feeling of “front” and “back” access to the worship

Best Use of Church Spaces

  • What can we co do with all the classroom space upstairs?

Process

  • What is the easiest and/or most cost effective way to make changes:
    • Significant modification to space, or
    • Remodeling of small areas?

Exterior Building/Parking

Presence

  • Light the stained glass so that it can provide more .
  • Light the Building would give the church much more presence in the

Entry and Drop Off=

  • Run the parking lot though an existing
  • Protected covering for allowing handicapped/children to access church
  • Multiple entries:
    • We don’t have one front door rather there are multiple
    • Should there be a primary/dedicated entrance?
  • With multiple entries, wayfinding is an issue unless there is clear and easy identification of what entries are useful for a
  • Make the auditorium doors double in size so that they are easier to find and load/unload.
  • Protection of the Entry. How to do this? Buzzer, cameras,

 

Parking

  • How do you provide enough parking for a large congregation?
  • The public school takes parking on Minnesota and that makes it difficult for guests to get from parking easily to the

Hospitality Spaces

  • Concerns were raised regarding the multiple places that hospitality happens on a Sunday morning: Two spaces for hospitality on Sunday‐not able to see everyone. Hospitality is about seeing
  • People want to go to a specific
  • Find different ways to get people to different parts of the church. Make enough of a reason to make Entry Area on the South/Narthex
  • Light the stained glass as the top of the 11th Street steps. Back‐light the glass?
  • Visibility to The Gathering Grounds‐open the space into the Sanctuary and through the office to the auditorium.

Gathering Grounds

  • Flooring options in The Gathering Grounds, etc. Color to provide a better
  • Open the doors to The Gathering Grounds to encourage more to come. Open spaces are more welcoming.
  • Make the door to The Gathering Grounds more welcoming/signage.

Other Opportunities for Gathering/Hospitality

  • Since the auditorium is no longer used as a gymnasium, make a welcoming gathering area for fellowship. Best use of
  • Find ways to entire people to hospitality spaces: Bake! Lead people by their

Fellowship/Dining

  • Upgrades to the kitchen and equipment to make it more
  • Better connection between the kitchen and the fellowship Hall. Better serving area. Windows of kitchen‐open to make more engaging?
  • Aesthetics of the Auditorium:
    • What needs to be done to make the space more welcoming?
    • What needs to be done to make the space more usable for programming?
  • Furnishings should be improved:
    • Updated tables with comfortable

Flexibility: Changes to areas as their use changes Offices/Meeting Spaces

Offices

 

  • School takes parking on Minnesota which it difficult for guests to get from parking to
  • The building needs to be safe for staff. Safety by zones for staff when they are here
  • Building security needs to be Meeting Spaces
  • More meeting space is
  • It is not easy to find meeting areas for staff that is easily convenient or
  • Need functional space for all church staff and committees,
  • More options for meeting areas with flexibility (multiple configuration).

Parenting Provisions

  • The current parenting room needs a
    • New changing table pad needed in the parents’ room!!
  • Make it easy for parents to leave and retrieve children:
    • Staffing
    • tv monitoring to connect to worship
    • age appropriate toys
    • security and safety (“escape proof”)
    • technology for the ability to contact parent during
  • If the nursery were well located and adequate, it would provide opportunities during the week for families to meet/learn,

Education Programming

Much of the conversation focused on the remoteness and inaccessibility of the spaces, aesthetics. Additionally that there is a lot of space but not well utilized.

  • Sunday School programming needs to be attractive to
  • Good environment makes a difficult/unpleasant task
  • .

Outreach Ministries

  • Current Uses Include:
    • NA meetings on Friday nights
    • in‐house ministries/meetings.
  • Evaluation of Program: Do we need more private meeting spaces? Privacy, security?
  • Is there a concern for use of spaces by outsiders:
    • Privacy
    • Security
    • Maintenance/Custodial Support and Staffing
    • Insurance
    • Control within the building. The ability to block off specific areas for events into definable areas.
  • Security deposits being “enforced” or clean‐up paid
  • Neighborhood Center‐parking for vans, sheltered accessibility to enter the building,

 

Maintenance, Mechanical and Storage

Storage

  • More Storage is not necessarily an issue but organization of the storage is. It should be
    • More centralized
    • Secure
    • convenient
  • A concern was raised about what should be kept or not kept: “Be careful what is pitched as there are irreplaceable items, i.e. Bethel Bible series”

Toilet facilities

  • Women’s bathroom‐not welcoming most of that is aesthetic or environmental
    • Drainage hole smells
    • curtains are ugly/dirty
    • toilets are low
    • table with plastic & spray doesn’t work to make it “lovely.”
  • Access to bathrooms is difficult during service because it is necessary to go down stairs or to go through worship to get to a
  • The Lower Level Toilets are not accessible and they are difficult to
  • Ideas:
    • Could the downstairs toilet that is accessible be unisex so that everyone would have access to a toilet that is accessible on that level?

Maintenance

  • Water coming into basement area. This is an ongoing problem that should be
  • Boiler and cooling needs were mentioned. How could zoning within the building to make it more efficient and less costly to operate?
  • Asbestos needs to be dealt with: Paul suggest replacing asbestos flooring rather than covering

Other Comments and Ideas

  • Take a look at other churches/public buildings about what they do right and what they do
  • Find a way for visitors to give input as to what they experience at FELC. Why/why not are you coming back? It helps church growth to understand what people are experiencing. If they visit but do not come back, it can be helpful to understand why so that FELC can improve outreach to

 

Actual Notes by Kay Bauer FELC Visioning Session

May 6, 2017

Paul Barribeau, Moderator     9:30 AM      FELC Auditorium

Presence & Invitation

  • We don’t have one front door rather there are multiple entrances. Dedicated entrance?
  • Not a problem to have multiple entrances as long as they are well
  • Protected covering for allowing handicapped/children to access
  • How do you provide enough parking for a large congregation?
  • Accessibility to all levels of the
  • Feeling of “front” and “back” access to the worship Difficulty of the steep steps at the front 11th Avenue entrance.
  • Usher/volunteer to direct people from all entrances to worship area, especially from the auditorium.
  • Need greeters at all doors on Sunday so they can be open. Then when church begins, the doors can be locked. Have a map at each door to tell you where to go for the nearest bathroom, the Sanctuary and
  • Light the stained
  • Make the auditorium doors double in
  • Run the parking lot though an existing

Hospitality Spaces

  • As auditorium is no longer used as a gymnasium, make a welcoming gathering area for fellowship. Best use of space…
  • Light the stained glass as the top of the 11th Street steps. Back-light the glass?
  • Windows of kitchen-open to make more engaging?
  • Visibility to The Gathering Grounds-open the space into the Sanctuary and through the office to the auditorium.
  • Hospitality is about seeing
  • Two spaces for hospitality on Sunday-not able to see
  • Find different ways to get people to different parts of the church. Make enough of a reason to make the people want to go to a specific location. Bake! Lead people by their nose…

 

Offices & Meeting

  • Not easy to find meeting areas for staff nor easily
  • School takes parking on Minnesota which it difficult for guests to get from parking to
  • Protocol of entrance? Buzzer, cameras,
  • Need functional space for all church staff and committees, etc. Safety by zones for staff when they are here alone. Security needs to be
  • More options for meeting areas with multiple configuration options as
  • What can we co do with all the classroom space upstairs?
  • Need to address where at least the option of an elevator can be located before any other work is done. Ramps require the same amount of exertion/steps taken as using physical
  • Parking needs to be coordinated with

Parenting & Education

  • Current parenting room needs a facelift. New changing table pad needed in the parents’ room!!
  • Sunday School programming needs to be attractive to
  • Accessibility for SS to basement area for handicapped
  • Good environment makes a difficult/unpleasant task
  • Revamp nursery area-staffing, tv monitoring, age appropriate toys, “escape proof”, ability to contact parent during
  • Adequate nursery would allow opportunities during the week for families to meet/learn,

Spaces for Outreach Ministries

  • NA meetings on Friday nights, in-house ministries/meetings. Do we need more private meeting spaces? Privacy, security?
  • Challenges of being a public building-insurance, security. Custodial support and
  • Ability to block off specific areas for events? Definable area…
  • Security deposits being “enforced” or clean-up paid
  • Neighborhood Center-parking for vans, sheltered accessibility to enter the building, updated tables with comfortable chairs. Facelift for the

Fellowship & Dining

 

  • Open spaces are more welcoming. Open the doors to The Gathering Grounds to encourage more to
  • Changes to areas as their use Big space in auditorium but what needs to make the space more welcoming or usable for programming.
  • Facelift to kitchen to make it more
  • Boiler and cooling needs? Zoning the building to make it more
  • Flooring options in The Gathering Grounds, etc. Color to provide a better
  • Paul suggest replacing asbestos flooring rather than covering
  • Easiest and/or most cost effective way to make changes? Significant modification to space? Remodeling of small areas?
  • Make the door to The Gathering Grounds more welcoming/signage.

Anything Else

  • More centralized, secure, convenient, etc. Be careful what is pitched as there are irreplaceable items, i.e. Bethel Bible series large picture
  • Women’s bathroom-not welcoming. “It sucks!” Drainage hole smells, curtains are ugly/dirty, toilets are low, table with plastic & spray doesn’t work to make it “lovely”.
  • Water coming into basement area… Ongoing problem that has to be
  • Downstairs bathrooms-make it unisex? Not accessible as up a Male one not easy to find.
  • Access to bathrooms difficult during

Homework!

  • Take a look at other churches/public buildings about what they do right and what they do wrong.
  • Find a way for visitors to give input as to what they experience at FELC. Why/why not are you coming back…Need to understand what we are doing right and wrong so we can address issues.

Contact Info

First English Lutheran Church
1013 Minnesota Street, 

Oshkosh WI 54902 920-231-9890


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