Town Hall Meeting

Council Secretary and Luther Hall Task Force (LHTF), convener, Sandy Cottrell, Finance Committee member, Larry Ramsey-Macomber, and members of council invite you to a Town Hall Meeting to share the results of the LHTF work, and potential options and to answer questions from the congregation as council begins to discern next steps.

The Luther Hall Task Force (LHTF) was formed by Trinity’s Congregational Council and confirmed at their meeting on October 26, 2022. The Council approved that congregant Sandy Cottrell would be asked to be the LHTF Convener. 
The LHTF was charged with determining as follows:

The current state of the property (Luther Hall, Luther Garage, and surrounding property) including identification of deferred maintenance, if applicable

The current ministry uses of Luther Hall, Luther Garage and surrounding property by the Ministry Hubs and Maintenance staff,

By engaging the ministry Hubs (leadership and Staff Director), establish an inventory of ministry needs and dreams for Luther Hall, Luther Garage, and surrounding property.

The LHTF committed to summarize these needs and dreams focusing on potential uses for Trinity’s mission into God’s kingdom balanced against financial implications. The deliverable to Council was a report summarizing scenarios with observations/considerations for decision making by Council. The report was submitted on September 13, 2023, with a follow-up Council Q&A session on November 10, 2023.

The LHTF divided into two Sub Teams: 

Sub team #1
made up of Congregational members
Gary Hatton, coordinator, Ron Borneman, Jim Cottrell, Larry Ramsey-Macomber, Finance Committee

Ministry Liaison (“Visions and Dreams”)
Sub team #2
, also made up of congregational laity members Sandy Cottrell, coordinator, and Jen Pugles. A staff member, Lisa Corr, Director of Administration, bridged across both sub-teams and staff, as well as providing logistic support; a member of the Finance committee was also added to the TF by Council.

To assess ministry uses and visions, HUB leadership, Staff, and Pastors were interviewed as well as several community organizations. Looking to define the future of LH and have decision-making data, cost analyses  were established for these scenarios:  

  • Status Quo
  • Raze LH to a grass plot merged into the current lawn (leave garage)
  • Sell LH (leave garage)
  • Renovate LH for potential expanded ministries.  Community contractors provided cost estimates for scenarios 2 and 3 (Hartland Restoration, Inc. and Keller Williams, respectively). To assess architectural integrity and potential coding issues to support ministry uses, a contract was signed with Michael O’Rourke AIA with GKO Architects, LLC. Funding for GKO was provided through the Endowment Committee. In addition to scenario costs for renovations, they have prepared LH architectural drawings. Discussions of these options follow.  

Status Quo: 

Status Quo Option 1: Cost to do minimal maintenance and keep taxes and utilities as is (currently estimated at ~$8000.00/yr) is cost neutral as no new revenue or expenses are considered and keeps use for Al Alon and Code Blue on first floor; no expanded upgrades and uses but minimal repairs (eg., sump pump in basement) to avoid further deterioration.

Status Quo Option 2: Considering the possible synergy for use of the Deardorff Pavilion and Luther Hall, upgrade costs such as first floor repairs, enhancing first floor powder room and transforming the bathroom into a unisex ADA bathroom and making changes to the kitchen to code were added.  (Status Quo Option 2 minimum $275,000 investment.)  

Raze the Building: (“level” LH)
Resulting in an expanded grassed piece of land similar visually to the current Main Street front lawn, which would be aesthetically pleasing to Main St. traffic, keep control of the land, and could serve for future congregational use such as church picnics etc., which represents some ministry value. Estimated costs to raze LH $84,600 needs to consider Borough permits taking a cost estimate to ~$89,600, which does not include incremental costs for hypothetical removal of any toxic materials that may be found since LH is such an old building. Obviously razing also conflicts with any expectations for use in conjunction with the Deardorff Pavilion.

Property Resale “As Is”:
Considered as a one-time source of revenue. Market potential assessment was provided, valuing the property as a residence use or as a commercial property (subdivided into apartments). A resale list price of $674,900 was initially suggested, but subsequently, the impact of the pavilion decreased the property value by ~$50,000 depending on the impact on commercial applications by the closeness of the Pavilion, impact to parking, etc. It was noted that the pavilion’s close proximity to LH would likely prevent a subdivision of the property that is the LH footprint. Regardless of selling or selling for subsequent leasing, it is unknown what Lansdale Borough might impose as restrictions given the property is not truly zoned for professional use, allowed signage, etc. Details are available for further review, but the LHTF had serious reservations that sale of LH would result in lost control of its future uses and compromise the control of the property within the footprint of Trinity on Main St.

Renovate LH based on Ministry Dreaming:
Involved HUBs/staff and pastors as well as the additional community outreach that were interviewed and toured LH. Scenarios for ministry use were distinguished by feasibility to financially renovate to meet necessary codes for use. Use by Bux/Mont Bridge of Hope, Buddy Housing for Family Promise, and transitional refuge family housing each would require by virtue of overnight use, substantially greater code requirements as well as space (access to third floor), while the Family Services of Montco, Trinity’s Giving Store and partnering with North Penn Mosque are more “immediate use scenarios” and add vision for community outreach that may involve LH with a lesser burden on renovation and codes, thus being more easily achieved. It must be concluded that options to use Luther Hall are real, but that each ministry scenario requires full confirmation of the potential for revenue (within the constraints of fair market value to maintain Trinity’s non-profit status) and would need to be judged against the costs for renovations necessary to accommodate use and importantly borough codes. The LHTF believes it is possible to stage renovation activities and costs based on ministry uses (initial and “5 yr plan”). Renovations should align with planned uses. LHTF suggested that Council consider a two-phased project proposal focused on Trinity’s role of sharing our gifts with others in God’s Kingdom:

Phase 1 (GKO Scenario B) Near Term5  

Bringing first and second floors to code and standards (Benefits Pavilion uses as well)

Assume no overnight use on second floor (First floor Code Blue only overnight use)

Third floor repairs/renovations now would be to maintain structural integrity and to prevent any risks of deterioration but not to support ministry uses.

Phase 2 (GKO Scenarios E/F) Longer Tterm6  

Consider additional ministries (especially third floor and overnight uses) based on successes with Phase 1 ministries and financial limitations/implications.

When we forget our past we risk dishonoring the dreams that shaped who we are today as a congregation. Surely, God will show us if this is his plan for Trinity.


1 Analyses were modified as the TF continued their work and considered the building of the Deardorff Pavilion.

2 All cost estimates are not quotes to do work but are qualitative numbers for decision-making.

3 Resale value was an estimation on 1/31/2023 and is a date-limited estimate but considered qualitatively relevant for decision making..

4 To be confirmed housing a family/person for <30 days is considered as temporary housing that requires less stringent compliance to regulations/different regulations.  

5 $315,000 – $625,000: RENOVATE THE FIRST AND SECOND FLOORS so both can be used for non-overnight ministries except first floor Code Blue. (Bring both the First and Second Floors of Luther Hall up to code – Third Floor stabilized but left “un-occupied”).

6 $1,250,000 to $1,500,000 (RENOVATE LUTHER HALL SO THAT ALL THREE FLOORS can be leased to a non-profit as a counseling center/used by a non-profit organization. (Bring all three floors of Luther Hall up to code). Overnight use on the 3rd floor would not be possible within the constraints of code etc. and within this cost estimate).