Archived Sections, Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Keeping God’s house in tip-top shape

Church facility managers are unseen heroes keeping God’s house operating smoothly. They deal with lights that go out, sidewalks that need shoveling, and the like. And, these managers have an organization that helps them share skills with other church facility managers, hold training sessions on topics of mutual interest, and save precious resources through cooperative purchasing agreements.
The Minnesota Association of Church Facility Managers (MACFM) offers its members old-fashioned fellowship and even Internet discussion groups to solve immediate problems.
Problems facing church facility managers these days include tight budgets, inadequate staffing, volunteerism (which is declining with an aging population), and security, according to Keith Koenig, executive director of the managers’ group. The Minnesota group was founded in 2003 by facility managers from six larger congregations. Today membership stands at 73.

Diamond Lake Lutheran Church facility manager Keith Koenig maintains the church property of the building on Portland Avenue in south Minneapolis. Photos provided by Keith Koenig

Training sessions address issues such as fire codes, utility audits, emergency action plans, security, construction project management, and team unity and spiritual growth.

Thirty-six vendors are also members and must be recommended by church members who have experience using their products and services. The aim on vendor memberships is a ratio of two church members to one vendor member.
The group holds monthly meetings (usually the third Thursday of the month) starting with a 9:30 a.m. business meeting followed by an 11:00 a.m. training session on a “hot topic” and lunch plus a tour of the host church. Social events include a golf outing and a January banquet with a motivational speaker.
Koenig is an example of the non-denominational nature of the group. He has been property manager of Hope Presbyterian Church on Portland Avenue in Richfield for 20 years. He also serves as facility manager at Diamond Lake Lutheran Church (ELCA), also on Portland Avenue a few blocks away in Minneapolis.
Members of the organization represent nearly all denominations. Current president is Jeff Johnson of Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville. In addition to facility managers and selected vendors, membership is also open to church business administrators and volunteers such as members of congregational property committees. Koenig sees future opportunities for the group in helping smaller to mid-size congregations with facility management issues. In many cases neighborhood churches rely on volunteer custodians and there’s help for those volunteers, too.
Center Point Energy has addressed the group about savings to be gained in converting from steam to hot water heat. There have also been presentations on lower energy use in lighting. Cooperative buying of supplies is another benefit open to members who consider such savings a form of stewardship. The group also assists church facility staff people in finding employment and does some networking to find substitutes who might rotate among churches to work during staff vacations.

Keeping up the place

What do members have to say about the benefits of membership in the group? Nolan Gusdal, facility engineer at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis, says, “The MACFM organization is a great resource in my job as a church building manager. The group is loaded with supportive people who are serious about taking good care of their places of worship. I hope more inner city churches will visit one of our monthly meetings. I’m sure many will join when they see first hand the many valuable tools and support here.”

The Minnesota Association of Church Facility Managers provides resources to help with the maintenance of congregations like Diamond Lake Lutheran Church (ELCA), Minneapolis.


Jeff Johnson, director of building and grounds for Hosanna Lutheran, said, “We’ve done collective parking lot projects with other congregations. From Hosanna!’s perspective, we got insights on the best answers to our needs — the best results for our church. Also, vendor members of our facility managers’ group are a blessing. We may or may not use their services or products, but we know their aim is to serve the church; they’re all ‘Kingdom-minded.’”
Training sessions address issues such as fire codes, utility audits, emergency action plans, security, construction project management, and team unity and spiritual growth.
Koenig says the group takes prayer seriously and updates its prayer list monthly. Its interests also include support for Loaves and Fishes, the program that provides meals for the hungry; Minnesota Resource Center, which provides training for veterans and people with addictions; and Healing from the Inside Out, a social ministry addressing housing needs.
Additional information is available at the web site, www.macfm.org, or by calling Keith Koenig at 612/866-4050, ext. 3115.

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