The Shepherd of the Prairie building story begins with the founding of Shepherd of the Prairie itself when Pastor Ken McKnight started fellowship meetings out of his home in December 2000. Soon more room was needed and 2001 saw the opening of a church office in Hoppy’s Barber Shop in Huntley in June and the start of Sunday worship services at Chesak School in September.
In May of 2003, the church office moved to the basement of Citizens First National Bank. June marked a key step toward a permanent home for Shepherd of the Prairie with the kickoff of its initial capital campaign. In December, Shepherd of the Prairie signed a contract to buy 8 acres of land on East Main Street in Huntley. It was a momentous decision. It is a superb location to minister to the community of Huntley and a wonderful site on which to build a church. In January 2004, a Building Team was formed to start the process to make Shepherd of the Prairie’s permanent home a reality.
In June 2004, Pastor Mark Boster accepted the call to Shepherd of the Prairie presiding over his first service in August. In June 2005, worship services were moved to the Cosman Center. In October, preliminary plans for a 12,233-square-foot building were shared with the congregation. In May, the building site at Main and Manhattan was dedicated and the initial capital campaign completed. A subsequent capital campaign kicked off in June. These campaigns ultimately provided the necessary funds for a down payment on a loan to build our permanent church home. The Building Team selected Carlson Architecture in March and Shales McNutt as the construction manager in August. Now that our new building is complete, we know these were excellent choices. In July 2006, a master construction plan was presented to the congregation. It consists of five phases eventually resulting in a 70,000-squarefoot facility. Shepherd of the Prairie had started on a path to a permanent home. There would be challenges along the way, but there would be no turning back.
In June 2007, title for the Main and Manhattan property was passed to Shepherd of the Prairie and mortgage payments begun. In August 2007, The Building Team was reorganized. Pastor Ron Voss, the Northern Synod Mission Church Consultant, attended the new team’s meeting in September. It was a fateful night. Pastor Voss had led six mission churches in completing their first building. With Pastor Voss’ input the team formulated its goal statement:
Building on all the previous work of so many people, the team set out to achieve this goal. To meet the affordability goal, initial plans focused on a 9,000-square-foot building. However, as contributions continued to grow, plans expanded to a 12,000-square-foot building. To afford the larger facility, the team proposed the concept of Faith Items. “If you turned the building upside down, whatever falls out is not included in the building budget.” We would build the building on faith that furnishings for it would be provided.
In January 2008, the congregation approved the plan to proceed with a 12,188-squarefoot building without furnishings. On Aug. 21, 2008, the Huntley Village Board unanimously approved our plans pending final review and issuance of a building permit. We celebrated a formal ground breaking ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 24, and expectations were high to get started. But it would be almost two more months before excavation began on Oct. 21, 2008. After years of planning, the “brick and mortar” phase had begun — FINALLY!
With the much later start, construction tasks were hampered by a brutal winter. But schedules were adjusted and readjusted and work continued through the winter. When it was clear substantial completion would be done by July 2009, we scheduled our first worship service in our new church home for Aug. 23. Pending final inspection from the Village, we had achieved our goal to occupy our new church by September 2009!