First Lutheran Church in Decorah will be closing access to its sanctuary and fellowship hall this week due to building stability concerns.

As part of a standard review by structural engineers, it was determined this week the roof framing and stability of the brick masonry sidewalls are substandard, and it was recommended the building not be occupied until the walls can be stabilized.

Effective immediately, the church sanctuary and the fellowship hall, which is directly beneath the sanctuary, are closed. This will also affect adjacent areas, such as sidewalks and parking, although it is not yet know to what extent

The educational wing, which houses the church offices, is not affected. Ministries such as the Decorah Free Clinic and the Decorah Food Pantry are expected to continue uninterrupted. The Decorah Community Meal will need to be relocated.

“First Lutheran has been blessed with a beautiful and historic building for the past 150 years,” said Pastor Chad Huebner, lead pastor at First Lutheran. “Our priorities are safety and planning our programming for the month of December. We are also working to form an action team to address the building concerns as quickly as possible.”

An informational meeting for the congregation is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. in the fireside room to address any questions and concerns. A web page on First Lutheran’s website will be established to provide up-to-minute updates of our activities in response to this situation.

Immediate plans are to cancel scheduled Wednesday Advent services during the month of December, as well as Saturday worship at 5 p.m. An alternate worship location for Sunday mornings and Christmas services will be announced as soon as possible.

“We are concerned, but we are confident that God will provide us what we need to address these issues,” said Huebner. “Our priorities are safety and timely communication. We appreciate everyone’s patience and prayers as we work to resolve this issue.”