By Kim Plummer Krull
Helping Saint Paul Lutheran High School remodel the gym marks Norm Hoppmann’s 12th project for churches and schools – but his first prom.
“I ended up with the dubious name of ‘Grandpa Prom,” said Hoppmann, who serves as project manager for the Concordia, Mo., boarding school. “One day, the students told me they prayed for me in chapel.”
St. Paul is participating in the Laborers For Christ program to remodel the 50-plus-year-old Weis Gym, expanding the lobby, adding a new weight room, and enhancing a meeting room. Laborers also tackled another important task – helping decorate for the prom when students were concerned that the construction might interfere with their big dance.
“We put their fears to rest,” said Hoppmann, who perched atop a scissor lift and spent four evenings stringing wire, netting, and lights across the gym ceiling. “The junior girls were afraid we might mess things up. We had a meeting and ended up using the scissor lift to decorate.”
The Laborers’ assist drew such rave reviews, the students invited their special decorators to the May 1 prom. “This has been an enjoyable project,” said Hoppmann, who attended the dance with his wife, Jeannette, and another Laborers couple, Lyle and Jane Tolch. “We’ve had good rapport with the faculty and the staff, and the kids have been great. A couple of Laborers who had never been around a Lutheran high school were especially impressed with how well the kids conduct themselves.”
Such praise is no surprise to Rev. Paul Mehl, executive director at one of the world’s oldest Lutheran high schools. Some 190 young people from 12 countries attend Saint Paul. For more than 125 years, the school has prepared students for Christian leadership. Alumni include more than 1,000 pastors.
Likewise, Mehl speaks highly of Laborers For Christ, a ministry of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund that helps Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod congregations and schools take on their own construction projects and build within their budgets. Don Nordmeyer, a Laborers For Christ regional consultant and Saint Paul board member, urged the school to participate in the Laborers program.
“It’s working out very well,” Mehl said. “We’re saving some money and like the leeway Laborers give us.”
And the assist with the prom decorations, Mehl said, has been a bonus. To learn more about Saint Paul, visit www.splhs.org.
Since Laborers For Christ was founded in 1980, the ministry has helped congregations complete nearly 800 “building for eternity” projects. To learn more about Laborers For Christ, call toll-free at 800-854-4004, ext. 6446, or visit www.lcef.org/services/laborers_for_christ.
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
Posted June 2, 2010