Spirit of Joy to break ground in Clarkdale

Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church will break ground Saturday at a permanent site in Clarkdale.

Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church will break ground Saturday at a permanent site in Clarkdale.

CLARKDALE - After 17 years, The Spirit of Joy Lutheran congregation breaks ground Saturday to build its sanctuary. Now nearly150-members strong, the congregation will celebrate its groundbreaking at 11 a.m. at the building site on the northeast corner of Scenic Drive and Old Jerome Highway.

Dignitaries from the Town of Clarkdale, Architecture Works Green and Kinney Construction will attend the short worship service along with neighboring churches and the previous pastors of Spirit of Joy. Also on hand will be Rev. Stephen Talmage, the bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. A reception will be held immediately following the groundbreaking at the Clarkdale Clubhouse Auditorium

John Diets, the chairman of the Building Task Force, say the facility will be fully “green,” implementing solar collectors, rainwater recovery and water conservation.

In 2000, the congregation purchased five acres of land in the commercial section of what has been known as the Highlands development in Clarkdale, recently re-branded as the Crossroads at Mingus. 

Through fundraising, including three golf tournaments, the Spirit of Joy has raised nearly $500,000 of the $1.3 million construction and furnishing costs. Construction is expected to begin next January.

Diets says the complex will include five buildings surrounding a central courtyard. In addition to the sanctuary, they include a fellowship hall, administration building and two classroom buildings.

The Spanish modern design will include 8,600 square feet of space.

Architectural Works Green was contracted to design the facility. The builder is Kinney Construction, which won a national LEED award for construction of an addition at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.

Pastor Rev. Mari Larson recalls that when she was called to the mission four years ago, she was asked to lead a construction campaign for the new church building. “I said we wanted to reach 150 members. We are now at 144.

“When I came from Minnesota, I thought solar was a ‘no-brainer.’ We wanted a courtyard to expand the capacity of the sanctuary. We looked at a church in Yuma, with a courtyard and buildings on three sides and Rennie Raddoccia made it better.”

“The sanctuary will hold 150 parishioners, but we were advised to plan right away for future expansion.”

The six pocket doors will open on the Fellowship hall to accommodate another 150 in the courtyard, but there are also opportunities for building expansion.

“We were told that by the time the church is completed it will be too small,” Larson says. “The courtyard will be wired for sound and we can use folding chairs, where needed.”

Diets says the roof-mounted solar collection is part of a grid-tie system. Much of the building will be heated and cooled separately, so areas without use can be turned off. The facility will feed the grid most of the week.

The roof will also act as a collection system to store rainwater for re-use on the low-demand landscaping. 5000 gallons of water can be stored in a below ground tank.

Pastor Mari says the church has a wonderful history of looking outside itself. “We probably could have built sooner, but the church has given away 11 percent each year to the Grand Canyon Synod, the Luthern Disaster Fund and the Rock Point Indian school. Once a month members volunteer at the Old Town Mission,” she says.

For years, the Spirit of Joy had been meeting in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but recently located in the St. Anthony’s Plaza at 101 S. Main across from Dairy Queen.

The new building is expected to be completed in June.

Naomi Branconic, the congregational president, says Spirit of Joy is the most liberal of the three Lutheran churches in Cottonwood.

Peace Lutheran is part of the Wisconsin Synod, the most conservative. Faith Lutheran is of the Missouri synod and the Spirit of Joy is part of the ECLA, which 20 years ago combined three existing church bodies.

“We are the only Lutheran Church which ordains women,” says Branconic. “Until this time we have not been able to sustain our own."

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