Downtown church plans expansion

September 21, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

Eager to update a half-century-old building, church leaders and parishioners at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church plan to break ground next week on a wing to house Sunday school classes and a burgeoning music program.

The groundbreaking marks the latest step in a long process to accommodate a congregation with members ranging from infants to nonagenarians.

“We have a lot of human needs that this building currently does not meet,” the Rev. Dr. Ann Lukens said.

Lukens and the church community plan to break ground on the project Sept. 26 in honor of the feast day of St. Michael, the patron saint of the church.

The parish dedicated the existing building in 1958, but the structure has failed to keep pace as the church added members and programs.

Plans call for additional Sunday school space, meeting spaces, a music room and restrooms. The expansion will also add a fresh façade to the downtown Issaquah church.

“We came up with sort of a bundle of things that we felt we really wanted to do — and it was quite faith-based, so another way of saying that, that God might be calling us to do,” Lukens said.

Construction on the project should start in early October, after city planners approve permits for the project.

“This will bring it up to date and make it exciting,” architect Joe Donahou, a St. Michael’s parishioner, said last week.

The congregation of about 150 people is eager to add space to socialize over coffee after services and provide a better environment for Sunday school classes.

“On any given Sunday morning, when maybe 30-something of those kids will be here, it would be like taking a three-bedroom rambler and putting 30 kids in it,” Lukens said of the current arrangement.

The expansion aims to place restrooms on the main level of the church and, in a nod to young families, add changing stations in restrooms. The process will also create separate nurseries for infants and toddlers.

Jason Anderson, associate for liturgical arts and youth formation, said the construction will add space for the choir and a planned youth music program.

“This will finally give that wonderful music program a space to warm up, practice, store music,” Lukens said. “They’ve been kind of shunted around from here to there, so this will give them a home base.”

Brian Olsavsky, chairman of the church Visioning Commission and a parishioner, joked about the church “keeping up with the Joneses” in light of the rebuilt Issaquah High School nearby.

The church raised about $860,000 — including a large donation from a late parishioner — to build the expansion. Members also prayed for the expansion plan to be successful.

“Everybody participated in the ways they could,” Senior Warden Lori Birrell said.

If you go

St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church groundbreaking and patron saint feast celebration

-10:30 a.m. Sept. 26

-325 S.E. Darst St.

-392-3215 or

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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