Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin Lutheran Center renovation complete

[media-credit name=’CATHERINE SKROCH/Herald Photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]church_CS_416[/media-credit]A stage for live music, a coffee bar and a laundry room may not seem like typical features of a campus religious center.

But for the Wisconsin Lutheran Center, these accommodations will be available to students as part of the community, as the center has made more than $5 million in renovations to its chapel.

"We wanted to find a better way to communicate with the students on campus and make them feel more at home," Pastor Tom Trapp said.


Located on Gilman Street, the Wisconsin Lutheran Center will open its doors Feb. 26, celebrating the opening with a dedication and tours throughout the day.

Trapp said the new center will bring an adequate religious and social outlet for students.

"We were committed to having a place on this particular campus because many students stick around," Trapp said. "This is a place that could be a home seven days a week."

The chapel's community has been planning on such renovations for at least seven years and received funding from various sources, including many alumni donors.

Trapp said a desire to increase the number of active students in its community spurred the need for expansion.

"We have at least 300 active students [right now]," he said. "We'd like to double it to 600 active students, and our goal has been to double the ministry through the new building."

Part of the plan to get students involved will be the addition of six undergraduate student "house fellows," who will live in the center and plan ministry activities for students.

Initial discussions among the community planned just to expand the existing center, according to Trapp.

"Eventually, the best way we decided was to take it down and use the full property," he added. "Our previous building was way too small. … It was not adequate."

The result of the extensive construction is a two-story building that will also feature underground parking.

According to Trapp, the location of the chapel is ideal because it helps target the numerous Madison residents and students who shop just steps away on State Street.

Downtown Madison Inc., a city organization designed to address issues of downtown businesses, have shown support for the chapel's renovations.

"In any way we can, we've been supporting everything they do," DMI President Susan Schmidt said. "They do so much reach out to the students and they offer so many alcohol-alternative events."

In addition to upcoming construction for religious centers, the Pres House on State Street is looking to break ground in late spring for student housing apartments once the Presbyterian center receives city approval.

"We are going to create in the housing a unique spiritual learning community," Pres House Campus Co-Pastor and Executive Director Mark Elsdon said. "We see this as an extension of our mission to the campus."

According to Elsdon, the apartments will offer approximately 230 students an alternate lifestyle that does not center on excessive drinking and partying.

"Many are interested in a place that fosters healthy living and is not so centered around some of the campus partying," he added. "In large part, students are interested in a place to live to build community among residents and have discussion about faith-based questions."

If construction starts on time, Elsdon said the apartments will hopefully open summer 2007 and will lease by bed, not by unit, in order to free students from the limitations and complications of a unit rental lease.

Schmidt expressed her delight with the projects and added that the renovations of these two buildings add to the uniqueness of downtown Madison.

"I think that churches are part of the fabric downtown and stabilize that area even more," she said.

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