This page is designed to answer questions that are commonly asked about the Branching Out project. These questions are archived and were asked prior to the vote in May 2015.  At that time, the committee was named Future State. New questions will be added as they are brought up.

The congregation voted to begin Phase I of the Master Plan.  The information below might be helpful in understanding some of the details of the entire Master Plan and of Phase I specifically and why we believe NOW is the time refurbish/repair areas of need and build/expand!

What are the 52 improvements & upgrades included in the proposed $1.7 million renovation?

Added 4/23/15
  • Using input from various boards and groups throughout the congregation, the Future State Team has worked with Architect Donn Bohde to categorize a list of concerns that need to be addressed.  The major areas are:
    1. Church Organ Repair
    2. Plumbing Fixture & Scald Protection Upgrades
    3. Dehumidification & Energy Efficient Controls for Existing Heating & Cooling
    4.  Air Conditioning & Ventilation Upgrades for Church & School
    5. Electrical Upgrades Throughout Church & School
    6. Lighting Upgrades Throughout Church & School
    7. Public Safety / Current Code Upgrades
      • Many of these are permit issues that will be non-negotiable once construction begins
    8. Exterior Building Repairs
  • While we recognize that this is not 52 items, it might be helpful to remember the following:  
    • The number of repairs is not the most important thing in this list.
      • This list began as an effort to create an responsible estimate of what we think the "upgrades" or refurbishment will cost. 
      • The list quickly snowballed to over 52 items covering a large variety of concerns, both smaller projects as well as some major undertakings.
    • The number of projects on this list is not carved in stone. Thanks to the hard work of the Trustees and other people who give their free time to keep our facility running, some of these concerns will likely be addressed before construction would begin.
      • As the Trustees continue to cross items off the list between now and breaking ground on new construction, the number of repairs could fall under 52.
      • Additionally, the number of repairs could increase if new needs arise.
      • The number 52 was shared to emphasize that while the Trustees have done an admirable job of maintaining our facility to this point, the needs have begun to significantly outweigh the amount of help that can be reasonably expected from volunteer Trustees.
    • Regardless of what happens to the exact number of renovation projects, there are some necessary major repairs that are beyond what can be reasonably expected of "weekend warriors." The 8 major project areas listed above make up the bulk of the $1.7 Million figure.

What lessons have we learned from the schools in the area that have closed? Why are we investing in a new building when others can’t keep their schools open?

Added 4/17/15
  • This is an important question to consider. The Future State team has discussed this issue at length. Here are some of our conclusions:
    • The Future State Team believes that the struggles of other schools are not due to regional demographics or a lack of interested families. We believe that the number of families that have recently come to Saint John from these closing schools indicates that there are still people looking for Christian education in this area.   
    • The Future State Team believes that Saint John is committed to operating our school as our primary mission and outreach to the community.
      • The demographic study done for Saint John indicates that this area is likely to have enough potential families to justify operating a school.
      • Our current pastors and principal are committed to keeping the school as the primary mission of the congregation, which includes addressing facility concerns when they surface.
    • The Future State Team views the closing of local schools as an opportunity to draw from a wider pool of potential new families. While we don’t want to “steal sheep” from another congregation, we do believe that Christian families from outside Saint John could benefit from the education we offer here. We believe that the appropriate boards should consider ways to intentionally reach out into these areas and congregations to promote our school.

Didn’t we just pay $40,000 to repair the organ?

Added 4/17/15
  • While the congregation did pay $40,000 to clean the organ in the summer of 2008, that was routine maintenance needed every 15-20 years, like regularly changing your car’s oil. The problem we are facing now is not routine. Major components of the organ are failing and need to be repaired or replaced. The organ quit working in the middle of a hymn on Maundy Thursday and during the postlude on Easter Sunday. It could go out at any time. As a congregation committed to offering a strong music department, we have to fix the organ.

How would building classrooms and expanding the driveway affect the women’s softball team?

Added 4/17/15
  • While the field space lost would not likely affect Mel Ott baseball, it would probably impact adult use of the diamond. Options would need to be explored, such as:
    • Building a two-tiered fence similar to Boston’s “Green Monster.” While the distance to the fence would be shorter, this might address the distance required to hit a home run.
    • Relocating our ball diamond to a different spot in the back field.
    • Practicing or competing on a rented field. The flooding in the field will remain an issue, so playing somewhere else may prove safer in the long run anyway.

These concerns would have to be addressed in more specificity when the drive is completed and we can see exactly how much of the back field has been lost.

Has a demographic study been done to determine if a building expansion is justified?

Added 4/9/2015
  • Yes. As part of the school's recent accreditation process, an extensive demographic study was done looking at a 5 mile radius around Saint John. The study, completed in May, 2013, was provided free from the Michigan District Church Extension Fund and is used by churches to identify trends and status of the community in which the church serves. Highlights include:
    • The number of school age children is expected to increase slightly.
    • The economic level and racial/ethnic breakdown is expected to remain consistent with the current numbers.
    • There is nothing in the report that would indicate a change detrimental to operating a school. The need will be there as much as it is today.

Full copies of the demographic report can be accessed by appointment in the school office.

Has consideration been given to whether Saint John could offer bussing to increase enrollment?

Added 4/9/2015
  • This and other enrollment, evangelism, or outreach questions do not fall under the task given to the Future State Team. New classrooms would equip the facility to hold more students comfortably, especially in the upper grades. How to get those students would need to be discussed by the appropriate boards.

Does the Master Plan fix the flooding in the back field?

Added 4/9/2015
  • While the flooding in the back field is a perpetual problem, there is not much that can be done about it. The field is designed to be a reservoir to catch and hold rain water so that the city storm drains do not flood. (Everyone who was in town last August remembers what happens when the storm drains are overloaded!) Properties are required to provide such a reservoir in proportion to the amount of roof and paved space on the property. Adding to our building actually adds to the amount of water we are required to hold in our reservoir. Attempting to “dry-out” the back field would add a major expense not currently included in the Master Plan.

What about the sports and other activities that take place in the field?

Added 4/9/2015
  • With the current state of the field, sports teams already have to work around flooding problems. Those problems are not easily solved regardless of whether or not the Master Plan is implemented. The usability of the field or possible alternatives will need to be discussed by the appropriate groups.

Will there be an open forum to discuss the Master Plan?

Added 4/9/2015
  • Yes. A significant portion of the April 27th Voters’ Meeting will be dedicated to open question and answer on Future State. Architect Donn Bohde will be in attendance with the members of the Future State Team to field questions. In preparation for that meeting, please consider the following points for clarification:
    • The proposed Master Plan is not an all or nothing plan. It is the first step in determining the positive facility advancements and financial impact on the congregation.
    • If the congregation votes to move forward with a building project, there will be time during the fund raising process to review recommendations and make necessary changes prior to starting any actual construction. 
    • However, we can no longer put off determining a direction for the future of Saint John. Adopting a master plan rather than endlessly tinkering with one is imperative for the overall advancement of our ministries.

How much will this affect the monthly budget?

Added 4/9/2015
  • Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered with any specifics yet. Much of this depends on the direction given by the voters. Variables include:
    • How much will the congregation borrow?
    • How much will adding air conditioning units affect the congregation’s energy costs?
    • How much will the added area (cleaning, maintenance, lighting, etc.) affect the congregation’s monthly budget?
    • How much will the congregation save by improving the energy efficiency of the current facility?
    • How much will the congregation save in the “nickel-n-dime” repairs by wrapping up major renovation costs into Phase 1?

While the impact on the monthly budget is not totally predictable, it is not likely to push the budget beyond what the congregation is able to handle. To vote “yes” on the building plan is to vote “yes” to doing what it takes to pay for it.

Will bump-out bathrooms take away needed parking spaces?

Added 4/9/2015
  • The bump-out bathrooms themselves will not likely affect parking, but installation of handicap ramps and reconfiguration of the main church entrance as proposed in the master plan would likely cost 8 parking spaces. If these 8 spaces proved to be a serious future issue, there are places on our grounds where the parking lot could be expanded.

Have fire or tornado evacuation plans been considered in the Master Plan?

Added 4/9/2015
  • The Master Plan has been constructed with the guidance of experienced architects who have completed other school & church projects. Additionally, the city and state inspectors would be consulted at the appropriate times before, during, and after construction. While the evacuation procedures will not be finalized until construction is complete, the construction will meet all building codes, including evacuation needs.

Does the Master Plan include air conditioning?

Added 4/9/2015
  • Yes. The current Master Plan includes air conditioning for the sanctuary, cafeteria, and classrooms and offices. 

How can we consider a building project when we can't meet our current budget or pay our teachers to scale?

Added 4/1/2015
  • This is absolutely a legitimate concern. The following thoughts might be helpful:
    • We have included the church council in this concern. The Future State Committee was organized with proposing a vision for the congregation’s future, not with financing it. Financial decisions rest not with an individual committee but with the voters of St. John.
    • The Future State Team plans to propose financial benchmarks at the September, 2015 Voters’ Meeting. Should the voters approve these benchmarks, they would need to be met before breaking ground or undertaking any of the proposed major renovations. The current concern of the Future State Initiative is to gain direction from the voters, which is why only general estimates have been presented to this point. Once a direction is given by the voters, the costs and benchmarks can be discussed more specifically.
    • Finally, the pastors believe that the ability or inability to meet a budget is ultimately a spiritual issue. Consider the following:
      • Multiple studies demonstrate that the average Christian household contributes only 2% of their income to the church.  The same is basically true here at Saint John.
      • If all our member households were to give even 5%, we would have more than enough to support an adequate budget and a building project, not to mention hiring on additional staff and exploring other ministry options available in the area of Family Life, Deaconess, or the like.
      • The pastors do not see this as a question of ability, but one of willingness to live in accordance with God’s design by supporting the work of his kingdom. We absolutely can pay our teachers to scale and undertake a building project. All we need is for the people of God here to make it a priority.

Why doesn't the new master plan include a 2nd story?

Added 3/29/15
  • The master plan has been revised! The new master plan remains very similar to the previous version, but does not include a second story. Building a second story instead of building around the gym requires removing the hexagon at the beginning of construction. The Future State Committee thinks the wrap around is the best option because classes can continue in the hexagon while new classrooms are being built around the gym. This will:
    • save the cost of setting up temporary classrooms somewhere else
    • simplify the logistics of the building process.
    • allow the congregation to implement the master plan in fiscally responsible increments

Please attend the presentation of “Phase 1” on April 19/20 for more information.

Where will the playground go?

Added 3/29/15
  • Regardless of what happens with Future State, the playground will be moved in the near future because the Preschool and Young-5 students are not currently allowed to use it. The current plan is to:
    • Move the existing playground to the back field area
    • Install a new early childhood play area on the spacious front lawn, thus providing plenty of room for the children to run around while also enhancing visibility and “drive-by” advertising for the school.

Will the wrap-around design divide the paving into two separate lots?

Added 3/29/15
  • No. The parking lot will have the same design as what we currently enjoy. The area behind the back of the building will remain paved so that traffic could flow naturally as it does today. While that will cut into the field space a little, the field will remain a usable space for recess and Mel Ott baseball.

What's wrong with the organ?

Added 3/13/15 
  • While you might not hear it when singing from the pews, the organ is actually in need of some major repairs. These repairs have been needed for a long time, but Mel has done a wonderful job of keeping the instrument in playable condition. (Such a good job, in fact, that he was even offered a job by the organ repair company to be one of their top repair men to service organs around the country!) The reality is, however, that the repairs needed are getting beyond what Mel can do with the tools at hand. The major issues include:

    • Mold growth in the organ pipes
    • Corrosion of organ pipes beyond usable condition.
    • Decay in the parts that allow for different sounds to come from the pipes

Why is organ repair included in Future State?

Added 3/13/15
  • A strong music department is one of the primary pillars (along with the school) that draws people to Saint John, but we are currently destroying our own organ. The Future State Committee feels that because such extensive repairs are needed, the best way to approach those repairs is to include the cost in the Future State Initiative. While the price tag for the organ repairs is more than $300,000, it should be remembered that the organ itself was most recently appraised at $1.4 million. An extensive repair is far more cost effective than waiting for the instrument to decay to the point where replacement is our only option.

What is Future State?

  • Future State is an initiative commissioned by the voters' assembly of Saint John to explore the current state of the congregation's physical facilities (both church and school) and possibilities for renovation and additional building space that would bring the ministry of Saint John into the 21st Century.

Why is Future State Necessary?

  • The need for Lutheran education has never been higher, and the education offered at Saint John is consistently among the best in Macomb County. However, our facility does not reflect the quality of education offered at Saint John. Much the opposite: the current facility acts as an obstacle to the ministries of the congregation. Please review the presentation from March 1, 2015 for a fuller explanation of the current needs of Saint John Lutheran Church and School. The following are a few of the main needs our congregation is currently facing:
    1. Inadequate space for congregational activities
    2. Outdated facilities unsuited to 21st Century educational needs and practices
    3. General decay in a facility that has seen much love since it was built in:
    • 1948 (Main School Hall and Cafeteria)
    • 1957 (Hexagon Classrooms)
    • 1965 (Classrooms along Cafeteria)
    • 1974 (Gymnasium and Bordering Classrooms)
    • 1986 (Sanctuary)

Who is on the Future State Team?

  • The Future State Team is comprised of the following people:
Jeremiah Hoehner
Susan Machemer
Jeff Davis
Mr. David Waltz
Vicki Maceri
Rev. John Merrill
Alan Guiles
Rev. Bradley A. Smith
Kevin Pruzinsky
Rev. Aaron Richert
Jeff Rahn
Donn Bohde (Architect)




Where do I get information about Future State?

  • There is a wealth of information about Future State available through the website, including all the presentations and materials published by the Future State team. There is also information available on the Future State bulletin board by the library in the main hallway. Additionally, you may contact the Future State Team by email at futurestate@stjohnfraser.org.

What if I have a question for the Future State Team?

  • One of the primary concerns of the Future State Team is making sure that each member of Saint John has as much information as we can provide. If you have a question for the Future State Team, you can email it to futurestate@stjohnfraser.org or submit it in writing by placing it in the suggestion box located on the wall just to the left of the mailboxes in the back of the church.

How can I help?

  • There are several ways that each member of Saint John can contribute to the success of the Future State program:
  1. Pray - Pray for wisdom not only for the Future State Team, but for each and every member of Saint John. This is a weighty undertaking, and should not be entered into or rejected without first praying that our Lord would guide our decision.
  2. Stay Informed - Be sure to attend the presentations, and maybe even take the time later to review the information posted on the website.  Make every effort to understand the needs, the proposed solution, and possible obstacles to that solution before attending the final voters' meeting in May.
  3. Stay Involved - Submit questions and offer feedback. While there is a team of volunteers that is steering the overall project, the only way a project of this size will ever succeed is if the people of Saint John take ownership and commit themselves to it. Let your voice be heard; this is your church!

How much will it cost?

  • While cost is a natural and godly consideration when considering a proposal such as this, there is no simple answer to this question. Please review the presentation materials for the Master Plan as well as for the First Step once they have been presented to gain a better understanding of the cost for each.



Presentation # 1 - March 1/2
Presentation # 2 - March 22/23
Presentation # 3 - April 19/20
Special Voters' Meeting - May 17