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Peace Lutheran Church

Peace Lutheran Church
Kokomo, Indiana
August 28, 2006

The church was built as a part of a Roman Catholic campus including a rectory, convent, K through 8 school, and auditorium. Outgrown by the original congregation, the complex sat empty and on the market for years.

The positive elements included the site, four acres on one of Kokomo’s busiest streets, acres of parking, and the quality of materials used in the original construction. Indiana limestone, slate roofs, copper gutters, and downspouts. Pennsylvania slate was used as flooring throughout the church and St. Meinrad’s stone covered the walls of the interior.

The negatives included the fact that the church was designed and built in a traditional format styled as a Gothic, Country French parish church with the typical sanctuary located in the apse (too large and too removed), a long, relatively narrow nave (again, too large), and a walled-in narthex (too small). It also contained all of the unique elements that define a Catholic church, statue niches of marble, built-in stone holy water fonts, confessionals (2) recesses built into the stone-clad walls that had held the Stations of the Cross and all the stained glass windows had been removed leaving only the clear glass of the storm glazing. The task was made more difficult in that the church was meant to seat 500 plus and the tiny Lutheran congregation would rattle about like a pea in a whistle in the cavernous space available to them.

The solutions included the design, fabrication, and installation of a wooden reredos, screen at the proscenium arch creating a chapel space in the apse, locating the new chancel in front of this screen, designing and fabricating new chancel furnishings, including altar, pulpit, and font. Seating was reduced by eliminating dozens of pews and then reconfigured using a combination of the existing pews and new chairs. The space gained by the elimination of pews serves as the gathering space and is further defined by placing the new font at the juncture of open space and seating. Ceilings were freshly painted and enhanced by the addition of some accent colors, lighting enhanced, a powerful and very visible new cross was designed, built, and installed at the rear of the apse.

New stained glass was designed and installed taking the palette from the colors in the St. Meinrad’s stone.  They flood the interior with a warm, ever changing light during the day. The Station voids are filled with textured wooden panels embellished with wall sconces, the confessionals have become storage areas by retaining only one of the doors (for access) and paneling over the others with architecturally embellished and detailed panels that match those used to close up the statue niches.