Pastor found most materials himself PASADENA

CHURCH IS BUILT ON A SHOESTRING

January 15, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

The Rev. Harold William Netzer hates preaching about money. He figures he's mentioned "giving" fewer than 10 times in his 28 years as pastor of The Bible Church of Lake Shore in Pasadena.

He barely mentioned it six years ago when the independent congregation decided to build a new sanctuary. But last week, the members added a 12- by 16-foot mural behind the baptismal, the finishing touch to their new place of worship.

The sanctuary cost about $125,000, but is worth four times that on the market, Mr. Netzer said. And the congregation did it all without going into debt.

"God can make provision for your needs, that's for sure," Mr. Netzer said.

In this case, the 120 members of the congregation provided the money, and Mr. Netzer, a tool and die-maker by trade, prowled auctions, basements and attics for the materials he needed.

For 25 months, he worked finding materials and building the church. "I like to build things, I enjoy that," Mr. Netzer said.

He found the seven laminated wood trusses that arch across the new ceiling at a Boy Scout camp and paid a fraction of their original price.

Neighbors told him that the new owners of a former Franciscan monastery in the state were throwing away old pews. Mr. Netzer hurried to pick them up.

He purchased four tons of glass for $100 at a sale, then paid $400 to have the glass moved to the church site. Now the glass fills eight double windows, each 6 feet high, making the new sanctuary light and airy. "I've been giving away glass ever since," he said.

OC Even cutting costs had to be done right, though. Mr. Netzer was

adamant that in staying under budget, the church must not try to "chisel" businesses to lower their prices. He had noticed clergy members expecting discounts from the religious book store where he worked during college and he resolved never to do that.

The mural came from an idea in the minister's mind for years. A local sign company directed him to Forest Stiltner, a local free-lance artist.

Mr. Stiltner, a former drug addict who converted to Christianity 20 years ago, said he has been "attracted to religious art" ever since he "saw how lovely and righteous the gospel is."

For Mr. Netzer's church, he drew and colored a sketch for the minister's approval, then spent 93 hours painting three crosses, an open tomb, and a replica of Christ standing in a waterfall.

The acrylic painting dominates the sanctuary interior with its large figures and deep hues. "I think it's very beautiful," the minister said.

Although the sanctuary is complete, Mr. Netzer said he isn't finished yet. He noted that even if all five churches near the intersection of Maryland Route 100 and Mountain Road were filled every Sunday, only three percent of the population in the area would be attending church.

"We'd like to build up to 180 people here, and then go down the road a mile and start another church," Mr. Netzer said. "There's plenty of room for everyone."

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