Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Prior Lake Lutheran congregation adds YMCA to its facility

Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church (ELCA), Prior Lake, Minnesota, is doing some groundbreaking things at its 80-acre site along Highway 42 where Prior Lake, Savage, and Shakopee come together. The development is now recognized as a nationwide first: a senior housing facility and a YMCA actually physically attached to a church.

Through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Shepherd’s Path, Inc., it is developing its spacious site as a faith-based intergenerational campus offering a wide range of services — from a preschool to senior housing including independent living apartments, assisted living units, and memory-care units. As one follows the hallway through the joined facilities, one passes the Path Way Café serving Starbucks coffee, a gift shop, and a bookstore.

The sprawling campus of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church (ELCA), Prior Lake, Minnesota, includes the sanctuary (center building), a large senior living center (the roof behind the church), and a newly-opened YMCA (on the left).

The sprawling campus of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church (ELCA), Prior Lake, Minnesota, includes the sanctuary (center building), a large senior living center (the roof behind the church), and a newly-opened YMCA (on the left).

The same-patterned carpet lends continuity to the buildings as one moves along the central hallway. When residents step outside, they have access to more than a mile of walkways and boardwalks leading to a gazebo in the center of 20 acres of wetland in the center of the campus. The site was part of farmland sold to the church by one of its members.

When Metro Lutheran mentioned to Kermit Mahlum, COO of Shepherd’s Path, that the facilities covered needs almost to the grave, he quickly added, “I’ve got a spot for a columbarium.” He said that Shepherd’s Path has its own board and draws on some of the best talents in the area.

The site is also headquarters for Safe Haven for Youth, a Prior Lake-based organization that takes in and works with homeless youth and young adults. Although Safe Haven is not physically connected to the other facilities, it is considered an important part of the community, serving over 700 people in its various programs last year.

A worship center … and more

Shepherd of the Lake moved into its new worship center in 2003. Presbyterian Homes and Services opened its McKenna Crossing building with 158 living units in 2007 — to the east of the church and connected to it. River Valley YMCA dedicated its new facility on the opposite end of the church in September of this year.

The worship center features stadium-style seating with a wide range of high-tech presentation equipment. Striking to a first-time visitor are three crosses — openings in the stonework at the front of the church. Lighting within the crosses can be changed with the seasons of the church year.

As one follows the hallway through the joined facilities, one passes the Path Way Cafe serving Starbucks coffee, a gift shop, and a bookstore.

Meeting peoples’ needs Sunday through Saturday in body, mind, and spirit is the goal of development along Shepherd’s Path. The corollary goal is finding new ways to equip people for service in the world and provide community service. Having the various facilities in one place also helps people who are unchurched grow in their relationship with Christ, Mahlum said.

Future plans include an 80-bed skilled nursing facility and a clinic/medical office facility. The master plan also calls for five unattached brownstone apartment buildings for people 55 years and older.

Forty-four percent of the residents of McKenna Crossing have some ties to 5,500-member Shepherd of the Lake Church. The congregation is served by three full-time pastors.

As Mahlum said, “Where you are in your path through life, we’re here to meet you.” He provides tours of the facilities upon request. He can be reached at 952/230-2916 or by e-mail at KermitMahlum@sollc.org.

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