From our beginning in 1814, our congregation has served as a home and meeting place for diverse individuals and groups. Thinking of both our legacy and commitment to the future, our current members and friends have spent countless hours to help us identify priorities for restoring, renovating, and improving our church home.

As we developed plans for the restoration of our sanctuary starting in 2018 (and delayed by the pandemic), we were inspired by the opportunity to do more – to make our facility more welcoming, better able to fulfill our mission within the community, and improve accessibility.

We’re starting with significant restoration of the front wall (our first priority) and we have included input from the congregation along the way. We are glad for strong support to move forward.

The 2022 refinement of the plan outlines various options for improvements to parts of the building other than the sanctuary.  The designs are posted in Krolfifer Hall and available online here: design options.  

Update, September 10, 2023

Master Planning Team Update: Sanctuary Façade Restoration Completed

On Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, Rev. Jenn Gracen led us in a blessing of the restored sanctuary façade. We celebrated the completion of the construction work on all the three sides of our unique sanctuary.  After the service, Matt Cowperthwait (Master Planning Team leader) provided an update with lots of good news. 

In July 2022, our general contractor Beischel Building Co. submitted a bid totaling $643,979 for the sanctuary facade restoration work. By October, efforts to obtain additional subcontractors resulted in a “guaranteed maximum price” (GMP) contract with Beischel for $618,540. 

Here’s the good news: the final total cost of the sanctuary work was $566,250 – a savings of $52,290 from the GMP contracted amount!  Significant savings were encountered in stucco work, masonry & concrete; less work was required, hence the savings.  And there were no “surprises” encountered during construction, thanks to the comprehensive assessment work done by THP (façade engineering firm) in planning the project. The final cost also includes the addition of electric shades in upper windows to reduce glare on our big screen.  

And there’s more good news!  Our Continue the Legacy capital campaign has netted pledges of $1,022,958 so far, and St. John’s has already received pledge payments of $600,351. This means that – thanks to the generosity of our congregation’s donors – we are able to cover all the costs of the sanctuary phase of the Master Plan without the need for a loan!  Let’s give a special thank you to all our capital campaign donors!

As members and friends continue to fulfill their capital campaign pledges during the remainder of 2023 and into 2024, the Master Planning Team will begin planning phase 2.  The team will review prior congregational feedback, the various renovation options offered within the Master Plan and maintenance needs. A proposed plan will be shared for the congregation’s approval.  

Here are the slides from Sunday’s presentation about this good news.

Update July 11, 2023


Have you been wondering what exactly is being done to restore our sanctuary façade?  Behind that plywood barricade, what work is taking place? Here’s a brief description of key tasks of our construction project (explained in lay language) and some up-close photos of the stucco work.   

  • Scaffolding installed on the inside and use of the big orange lift on the outside enable work to be done safely and efficiently by Beischel and the glass, steel, stucco, painting and masonry subcontractors.
  • Windows were removed, new windows ordered and some have already been installed. All windows are expected to be in place by July 28.
  • Before new windows could be installed, it was important to assess the steel that supports the windows. To accomplish this, stucco on the outside and inside just above the lower windows was removed.  This enabled damaged areas to be identified, evaluated and addressed. 
  • At each phase of the work, structural engineers are examining the steel throughout the structure to determine where replacement and/or repairs are required. The steel subcontractor then fabricates the unique replacement pieces for installation at the top and bottom of the façade and does repair work needed to preserve existing steel.  
  • Plasterers replaced the inside and outside stucco just above the lower windows (this step required 13 days of work and is nearly complete – see photos of the stucco work.)
  • Painting of the inside and outside of the façade comes next, beginning this week. 
  • Meanwhile, masonry will be repaired where needed on the east and west walls of the sanctuary.  
  • The concrete platforms at the two doors that exit east and west have been repaired and given better support, and new doors have been ordered. 
  • Shades to help with glare on the big screen and pulpit area will be installed. 
  • Work has progressed as planned and on schedule!  
  • By early August, the plywood wall and scaffolding behind the wall will come down, the big orange lift will leave the parking lot, and we will have restored our unique façade, making our sanctuary secure from future leakage and structurally sound. 
  • A plan will be put in place for periodic reassessment and routine maintenance of the façade.  

horizontal hole in stucco work

Stucco removed inside and outside to repair/replace steel that supports lower windows.

Lathe for stucco support

Metal lathe installed to support new stucco. 

fresh stucco applied

First layer of stucco has been applied.

dried new stucco on wall

Stucco above the lower windows is now ready to be painted.

Update, May 30, 2023

As we prepare for the Annual Meeting and budget conversations, we wanted to provide a summary of the budget and cash flow information that the Master Planning and Capital Campaign Team have been routinely sharing with the Board. If you’ve been a guest at one of the board meetings, you may have already seen some of this information.  

In January, as capital campaign solicitation wrapped up, we developed a financial model as an aid for Board decision-making and to help the board understand three factors: 

  • Total cost & timing of the sanctuary facade restoration project  
  • Total expected capital campaign pledges & anticipated timing of payments
  • Anticipated cash flow throughout the sanctuary project

The total cost of the project was in some ways the easiest to incorporate into our model, although the work related to that was years in the making. We knew the sanctuary project’s Guaranteed Maximum Cost of $619,000.  Information from our contractor, Beischel Building Company, enabled us estimate our cost over the months when work is expected to be performed, taking into account when billing is done and payments are received, etc.

To understand our income side of the equation, the generosity of capital campaign donors makes the first step straightforward, giving us the total anticipated pledges. We asked capital campaign donors when they plan to pay their pledges so that we could estimate when the contributions would be received by St. John’s.  This analysis was layered with guidance from our stewardship consultant Rachel Maxwell about historical patterns of giving for a major capital campaign. Using this information we were able to develop a model for the ‘income’ side of the sanctuary project.

Finally, we tied these two concepts – sanctuary project expenses and capital campaign income – all together to understand our anticipated cash flow.  This enabled us to connect the capital campaign results with the Congregation’s approval to take out a bank loan, helping the Board to decide next actions.

Here’s what happened when we put it all together.  The large amount of capital campaign pledge payments in 2022 and early 2023 has had a big impact because by the time the sanctuary project is completed in early fall, we will have already received pledge payments that cover approximately 85% of the cost of the sanctuary project.  And of course, the remainder of the project cost will be covered by the continued pledge payments being made by our generous donors later in 2023 and into early 2024.

The anticipated temporary project deficit (where pledge payments are not yet sufficient to cover final sanctuary construction costs) will occur in late summer when the difference between capital campaign income already received and construction expenses already incurred is anticipated to be a deficit of $87,027. While this may sound like a large number, it’s a significant reduction of the maximum loan amount that the Congregation approved of $300,000.  And as pledges continue to be fulfilled later this year and early in 2024, the project account will break even again by March 2024.  This amazing outcome has been driven by the generosity and early giving of St. John’s donors for the capital campaign!

With the assistance of Chris Wagner, our treasurer, the Master Planning Team continues to monitor both the expenses of the project (so far, all going as planned and on time) and the income received from capital campaign pledge payments (also going as anticipated, thanks to everyone’s generosity).  We continue to track how we are performing against the model that we developed to understand how we are doing.

Monthly updates are being provided to the Board as a tool for their decision-making.  Our analysis provided the Board with guidance for the decision to start the sanctuary project in March and enabled them to decide that St. John’s does not need to take out a loan for the sanctuary restoration project.

Update, April 4, 2023

It has been a long time in the making, but with the favorable spring weather so far, we are squaring things away with Beischel Building Co. (our contractor) to begin the process of restoring the façade of our sanctuary within the next few weeks. While this is something we are all excited about, we know there are some things we will have to work around with this major project. 

Key Dates

  • April 17 – Preparation of the Sanctuary by protecting Artwork, the Organ, and other sensitive elements
  • April 24 – Setup scaffolding within the Sanctuary
  • May 1 – Restoration starts with removal of existing glasswork
  • June 1 – Replacement of Glass along East / West walls
  • June 12 – Replacement of Glass Along South Walls
  • June 19 – Repair to Stucco
  • July 20 – Painting of Interior and Exterior
  • August 3 – Final Cleaning and Inspection

If you would like a more complete understanding of the schedule, please feel free to reference the projected schedule

Audio / Visual Impacts

During construction, we know that the scaffolding will impact some functionality such as the screen at the front of the wall, and we are working with Beischel to mitigate impacts to other elements such as speakers, the tech deck at the back of the sanctuary, and other features of the sanctuary. We have been working to reach out to different groups who may plan around these elements, whether for specific services or events. However, if you are aware of a specific group or need and we have not yet discussed it with you, please let us know!

Working with Beischel, they are also aware of the impact this construction has on these functions, and want to get them returned to normal for us as soon as possible.

Driveway Impacts

During normal working hours for construction (Monday – Friday, 7 am – 4 pm), the driveways in and out of the church may be blocked by construction vehicles. In an effort to limit congestion and prevent a backup of cars, we expect the driveways may be closed to traffic during these times. We have reached out to the Fairview German school and other users of our lot to provide them with advance notice. We do not expect there to be an impact for evenings or weekends. 

Thank You!

None of this work would have started without the time and financial support of the congregants of St. Johns. Now is when we finally start getting to see the results of that support!

We will continue to provide more pertinent information as we get closer to certain dates.

Please contact Matt Cowperthwait with any questions about the Master Planning Team’s work.

Update, January 2023

We were able to announce that our generous members and friends have pledged $1,010,947 to date. St. John’s has already received pledge payments totaling $313,572. We hope to wrap up the campaign this month and anticipate a spring start on renovation. Thank you sincerely to all involved!

Update, October 2022

In the Oct. 9 special congregational meeting, 94% of the members present voted in favor of moving forward with restoration of the sanctuary façade despite a significant hike in the estimated cost.  Capital Campaign co-chairs Bill Luerssen and Joetta Prost then announced that we have early commitments of $590,000 toward our $1 million goal for the campaign.  The campaign will begin in earnest now. 

Here is the slide show shared at that Oct. 9 meeting.

Update, September 2022

Sept. 25 Congregational meeting prep: Please review this list of possible actions to consider during our meeting to review options following the increase in the estimate to repair our facade.


With a higher quote for sanctuary façade renovation, the Master Planning Team offers a five-minute video and written script of that video, to share recent discussions. The congregation is also invited to:

Drop-in Zoom meetings with the Master Planning Team were held Sept. 14, 23 and 24 on Zoom.  Also held were:

  • A “BIG CONGREGATIONAL DISCUSSION” – Sunday, Sept. 25, immediately following the service.
  • SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING – Sunday, Oct. 9, immediately following the service.

Update, August 2022

The Master Planning Team received the quote for the cost of restoring and preserving our sanctuary facade. While the quote reflects a cost increase, we know now that St. John’s can move forward with restoring our sanctuary wall and thereby continue to build our legacy on Resor Ave.  

In our continued effort to operate with transparency, the team shared the details received from our general contractor in two meetings. The first was an in-person discussion on Sunday, Aug. 14, immediately after the service and prior to the church picnic. The second discussion occurred online on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.  The team prepared this presentation on updated costs and scope of the sanctuary restoration project. It will be helpful to hear discussion on the bulleted items: Please feel free to review this video of the recorded Tuesday discussion.

Simultaneously, our campaign consultant, Rachel Maxwell, completed her financial feasibility study after meeting (virtually) with a sample of St. John’s families to discuss why St. John’s is important for us, the value of a capital campaign, and how they feel about the renovation work and Master Plan for St. John’s. While we have developed our financial strategy based on guidance, our assets, and past fundraising, this report provides an objective assessment of what we can likely fundraise for St. John’s and thereby helps us shape our decisions moving forward.  With the feasibility study report, Rachel has also shared a presentation that was shown to the board.

We celebrated our past and present with a service at our former church site in Over the Rhine Aug. 28. Read Bill Luerssen’s reflection on gratitude presented during that service. You can see photos from that service in this album.

Update, July 2022

Campaign co-chairs Bill Luerssen and Joetta Prost announced something very special will happen on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 11 a.m.  St. John’s will celebrate Sunday service at The Transept, the historic home of St. John’s, located at 1205 Elm Street across from Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine. 

Following our worship service, we will have a special gathering to kick-off the fundraising campaign to restore our Resor Ave. sanctuary facade and make our building more welcoming to all.  

The capital campaign theme, “Continue the Legacy: build our future” and “Continue the Legacy: it’s on us,” is revealed in the E-news. Bo Wachendorf created the look for our logo:

Campaign consultant Rachel Maxwell delivered an inspiring virtual sermon July 31, “Money is like Water.”

Update, June 2022

The congregation was asked to approve a capital campaign to support upgrades, and the congregation also weighed in on which upgrades to pursue. This will be a months-long process.

See a Frequently Asked Questions page for added information. Here are slides shared at the June 5 congregational meeting.

Update, May 2022:

On Sunday May 22, the Master Planning Team shared the draft refined Master Plan created by our architects, Nestor Melnyk and Jil Baker of MSA Design. The plan outlines options for improvements to parts of the building other than the sanctuary, incorporating feedback from the congregation as well as some new ideas for improving St. John’s facilities.  See the Facility Improvement Options plan, including costs, from MSA and the discussion points and recommendations from the Master Planning Team.

The Master Planning Team was excited to gather your feedback regarding the concepts and options included in the draft Master Plan.  The weekly E-news included links to opportunities to ask questions and engage with the team about the options, including four Zoom sessions in early June to see and hear an explanation of the design options that have been drafted, ask questions and engage with the team.  

Update, April 2022:

The Board approved the recommendation of the Master Planning Team to call a special congregational meeting on Sunday April 10 after the service to vote on moving forward with full restoration of the St. John’s sanctuary façade.  The results of the assessment conducted by façade experts with THP Limited provide recommendations for needed work. Please read an executive summary of the report, or review the full report with photos showing the repairs needed for our sanctuary walls.

Please see this list of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS for more information.

At the April 10 special congregational meeting, the members present voted to begin construction on the sanctuary exterior restoration and to obtain a bridge loan to cover the cost of this construction in advance of a capital campaign anticipated to begin later this year.

Update, November 2021

Following a series of input sessions with more than 50 members, the Master Planning Team heard that people believe

  • St. John’s is our home, where we gather as a caring community.
  • Our building represents us – our values, identity and beliefs.
  • Our sanctuary is a sacred place that fosters spiritual reflection. The beauty of the space itself impacts and inspires us as individuals and as community.
  • The mid-century modern design and aesthetics of our sanctuary are an important artistic contribution to the community and should be preserved for future generations.

The team also heard about how Covid-19 impacted our perspectives about our building and additional thoughts on improvements, safety and more. This input session summary includes those inputs and a note on moving forward.

The presentation used in those sessions is available on this PDF. More info. was shared in E-news editions.

For history of the first two years or so of planning, go to what we called our Big Build page.