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The congregation of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Carlisle recently broke ground on a $1.8 million building project in downtown Carlisle.

The project to renovate the 250-year-old church will include construction of a new two-story atrium (including an elevator) and renovation of the HVAC system and upper level restrooms at the 21 S. Bedford St. location.

“Our congregation has a heart for ministry to the neighborhood and community, but the lack of accessibility within our building has sometimes limited what we have been able to do,” Pastor Lisa Leber said in a news release. “We are excited that this project will address in a comprehensive way the issues of accessibility as well as of flow, hospitality, and functionality we’ve been discussing for many years.”

A ceremonial groundbreaking for the project took place Sept. 23. Marotta/Main is the architect on the project and Galbraith Pre-Design, a Carlisle-based construction company, is the general contractor. Work is set to begin this month.

“Galbraith has worked closely with the church, architect, engineers, subcontractors, and suppliers to help value-engineer this project to reduce the overall cost of budget requirements while adhering as closely as possible to the original design intent, functionality, and level of quality,” said Allan Galbraith, president and co-owner of Galbraith/Pre-Design.

First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Carlisle, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2015. It has worshiped at its location at the corner of East High and South Bedford streets since 1901.

Church officials said worship, Fine Arts at First, Head Start, the YWCA Afterschool Homework Club and other ministries and programs will continue during construction. Signage will be available in the parking lot and on the building to direct people to a temporary weekday entrance on the east side of the Christian Education wing.

Doors on East High and South Bedford streets will be open as usual on Sunday mornings and during concerts, funerals and other events in the sanctuary.

“We were grateful for Galbraith/Pre-Design’s commitment to working with us through the value-engineering process and for the ideas they brought to the table,” Leber said. “It can be challenging for a congregation to maintain ministries and programs when doing a project of this scope, which will touch many areas of our physical plant.”

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Executive Editor

Jeff Pratt is the Executive Editor at The Sentinel.