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David Mattson stands in the new sanctuary of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, which will be dedicated on Sunday. Photo: Kristina Pritchett

By Kristina Pritchett

When a couple gets married next week in Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, they will be the first to have the bells ring signaling the beginning of their marriage.

The bells are just one new addition to the project that Pastor David Mattson is excited about.

“We’ve added parking, we’ve put up retaining walls to set back some of the property, we’ve added an outdoor contemplation garden with an outdoor seating area,” Mattson said. “But the biggest piece is the new sanctuary.”

Facing Stonehill, the new sanctuary is surrounded by glass walls and will feature large stained glass artwork.

“It will be installed June 26 and 27; it will be awesome,” Mattson said. “I think there will be a lot of people seeing the stained glass window. They’ll be seeing it at night and day; it will be backlit. People won’t have to walk in.”

The stained glass window was approved, along with the other public art pieces, by the Planning Commission in January. Along with the glass and the bells, the church will have a fountain that is made out of a 3.5 ton boulder outside the sanctuary.

The expansion has been a work in progress for five to six years, but the work began two years ago when they officially broke ground.

“When we broke ground, the church soon after turned 50, so the work has been during the 50th and 51st year, we’re looking at this as an expansion for the next 50 years,” Mattson said.

Mattson said with the growing size of the members in the church, they knew they would need to expand.

“On Sundays, we have about 350 people at the morning services,” Mattson said. “We’ve outgrown our space. Two of the services are packed; this will give us some elbow room.”

The new sanctuary, which will be where services are held, can hold about 400 people.

“One of the unique things is that the main side can open up to the outside so we can seat more people if we need to,” Mattson said.

The former sanctuary will be renovated and turned into a community space for events.

He said the design is more modern, but will incorporate traditional elements, including a pipe organ and a concert piano.

“This will not only serve our church community, but we look at this as a concert venue, a place for outside groups, schools,” Mattson said. “A lot of different groups will be able to use the space for different reasons.”

The week before the dedication, Mattson stood at the alter and looked out toward the pews. At the time, they were still covered with plastic and work was still occurring but he said the members of the church were ready for the new space.

“They’ve put up with a lot of mess,” he laughed. “It’s been a community effort. In this area we have people with tremendous resources but you also have people with very little. Every one, in some way, gave their time or their money, and has been a part of this project.”

To celebrate the new space, the church will have a weekend full of activities.

On Saturday, June 3, there will be a Bach Festival with a concert at 6 p.m. Guests will be able to hear music from the new organ and piano.

On Sunday, the sanctuary will be dedicated at 9:45 a.m. There will be two other services at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

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