Enter Trinity from any door and you’ll feel right at home. Comfy chairs await if you’d like to sit and chat with a friend. An art gallery provides a feast for your eyes. High-top tables invite you to grab a cup of coffee between services and never lose a beat in your conversations while filling up on a Lutheran’s favorite liquid. Depending on the season, you’ll also be treated to seasonal décor that makes your heart happy. Two committees are responsible for these decorating considerations (and MORE), and they are the focus of this month’s Servant Spotlight.

Interior Finishes Committee

The Interior Finishes Committee consists of Heather Hermanson, Peggy Bang, Kris Latham, Carol Dettmer and Brian Carlson. This committee deals with more permanent “decorations,” such as the chairs, choosing the style and fabrics for the Gathering Space and entry way chairs. They also are the people who have been the “brainchild” of the art display and photos that depict the core values of Trinity Lutheran Church.

There are two galleries that this committee oversees, the first in the Atrium (across from the church office) and the second on the opposite wall leading into the Gathering Space. The Atrium area’s gallery serves as a sort of “billboard.” This is “what’s happening…what we’re about!” Kris Latham said. Carol Dettmer added, “It’s a breathing documentation of who we are.” This “flex area” is an uncluttered open area that allows space as people walk into the church. Gallery items will rotate and change periodically, just like the life of the church. Examples of what has been seen in this gallery include pictures/history from Trinity’s 150 years, past pictures of the Scandinavian Bazaar, and currently, an exhibit of creations by John Fritz.

The more permanent gallery consists of large photos that depict the 5 Core Values. These will be changed annually. Peggy Bang was instrumental in mapping out the photos, including choosing quality photos, and playing with various sizes and orientation. One next hurdle is deciding which pictures will go into the display next. “We want a quick snapshot of how we walk the walk,” said Latham. Hermanson added, “They show ‘Faith in Action!’”

This committee shared how an architecture firm helped plan the Gathering Space. Dana Thomas of Bergland & Cram helped select interior finishes and helped develop the flow from the education wing to the traditional church. She gave the committee some colors, options and choices and was instrumental in leading the Interior Finishes team as a whole.

Anne Gerrietts, a Church Building Consultant (and sister of Pastor Dan Gerrietts) also stressed the functionality of pieces that this committee chose, and she helped them think about long-term versus transitional pieces. When envisioning the Gathering Space, Hermanson said, “It’s not meant to be a 2nd Fellowship Hall.” Carol Dettmer added, “It’s a moving space…a through space.” The high top tables are meant to move; they aren’t meant to be stationary.

It was difficult to envision how people would use the space when Covid was in full force and the congregation was absent. When people were finally able to mask up, use social distancing and come back to church, the committee was pleased at how their plans for the Gathering Space worked. Molly Gerrietts brought up an example of the Bishop’s installation day when people were using the Gathering Space, sitting in the chairs and using the high top tables to set their snacks on as they looked outside and saw throngs of people utilizing the Courtyard. She said that’s when it finally hit her that “THIS is what it’s meant for!”

Seasonal Décor Committee

The Seasonal Décor Committee consists of Carol Dettmer, Deborah Pang, Molly Gerrietts, Jen Noto, Mary Burgmeier, and Heather Hermanson (who Carol Dettmer deems “a driver on BOTH committees!”). The committee members stress how Hermanson is an inspiration to them. Deborah Pang said, “We can have this vision, but Heather puts it all together!”

Hermanson explained that she is always collecting pieces. “There are happy accidents, too—like the dollar bin greenery!” Committee members laughed with her about finding mini Christmas trees for Trinity’s use at the Kiwanis garage sale. She pointed out that she is always thinking, ‘Where can I use this?’ She also looks for anything that is available in a bit of quantity for decorating purposes at the church. The leading force of this committee, Hermanson has been decorating for the church for five years. In the beginning, she wondered, “How do you follow John Fritz?!?” Her abilities now speak for themselves.

This year’s Christmas altar décor required many hands and Hermanson pointed out the Carpentry Committee, headed by Gary Wattnem and Paul Charlson (and team) were crucial. Carol Dettmer stated, “They wouldn’t say they’re part of the decorating team, but we couldn’t do it without them!” Hermanson said, “This took NINE grown men to put together!” Pang added, “The boards were even burned in Gary’s garage with blow torches!” Where did this beautiful idea come from? “I saw it on HGTV,” smiled Hermanson.

Sometimes an idea may come from a request. Pastor Dan Gerrietts mentioned something about a winter forest and the committee made it happen. Considerations that must be made include working around worship needs and accommodating technology. Other than that, “there are visionaries and there are worker bees,” said Dettmer. This committee has a great combination of both.

The work that goes into making Trinity sparkle and shine takes a great team effort, and this team obviously has fun working on making Trinity everyone’s HOME. Dettmer pointed out how this is such an honor to decorate Trinity, because of that very fact. “It’s their home… You’re messing with others’ HOMES!” she said. “And it takes lots of hands to get there.”

Pang also mentioned that “it’s really an honor to do this!” She also mentioned the obstacle of strategic purchasing for certain big-ticket items. “We’d like to add The Wise Men and the Donkey, but pieces are expensive.” The committee adds what they can WHEN they can, and they are creative about finding (and MAKING) top-notch decorations.

Molly Gerrietts added another dilemma this committee has had over the years. “We’ve had to tweak our Christmas decorations especially because we’ve been in different locations every year.” Hopefully, now that construction is done and Covid soon-to-be “done,” more permanent plans can be put in place in future years.

Why does everyone volunteer for this committee? Latham pointed out that it’s so much fun to work with new people! She also mentioned that it’s nice to help create beauty inside and out…just like the large Christmas tree in the Gathering Space. Dettmer added, “The room is the most beautiful when people are in it. It’s just a room til you fill it with awesome people!”

Both committees face supply chain challenges and would like to do even more in future years. What they are doing now, though, takes the help of many others. They were quick to point out others who have been so helpful in the decorating/design process. They include: Allison Day, Emmy and Grace Swisher, Deidre and Rich Rattay, Vicki Wattnem, Kim Pang, and the entire Pang and Hermanson families.

The next time you find yourself admiring your Trinity HOME, take the time to thank one of these creative people…and if you come across a great sale on a quantity of gorgeous decorations, give a shout-out to one of these visionaries! †