Lutheran seminary will undergo its first renovation in 50 years

Photo by Emi Zibaei

The Waterloo Lutheran Seminary on the Wilfrid Laurier University Campus is receiving a nine million dollar renovation in the upcoming months. The renovation consists of several new features and an update of the entire building, minus the chapel.

The Seminary is a community space as well as a federal institution on the Laurier campus, which includes seven different programs of study, currently home to the philosophy department and hosts Sunday worship, as well as community programs such as “Chillin’ With Dogs.”

“The Seminary was built in the early 1960’s, at that point in time we had one program to train primarily Lutheran pastors and in those days the students were all males … over the last 50 years we have turned into a much different school than we were back then,” said Mark Harris, principal-dean, professor of functional theology and director of Leadership in Ministry.

“It’s not just that the building is 50 years old, it is technologically outdated and has asbestos. As the school currently exists, the Seminary no longer serves the needs of both the Laurier students and Seminary students.”

In regards to the actual renovation itself, the Seminary will be completely gutted except for the chapel, which is just having the ceiling fixed.

With various renovations going on around campus, the philosophy department, currently located in the seminary building, will be relocating to the Peters Building which was the previous business building.

The goal of the renovation, according to Harris, is to create a community environment.

“The nine million dollars basically covers hard costs and soft costs; seven million dollars covers hard costs and two million dollars of hard cost,” Harris said.

“The physical renovation of the space [beside] the chapel which [will] remain the same. The entire space will be gutted inside and [the] addition [that is] put on Bricker Street which will allow a street level entrance,” Harris said.

According to Harris, the biggest chunk of the budget is going towards bricks and mortar, which is the tools and supplies needed to make the actual Seminary.

“The two million dollars in soft costs is the technology going into the building furniture going into the building and those things,” Harris explained.

Laurier does not have a lot of green space available on campus. The largest open green space, other than the football field, is the quad beside Veritas Café.

According to Harris, the courtyard in the Seminary is going to be redone with decking and chairs for people to gather during the warmer months and for those who are looking for some quiet study space outdoors.

It would be available to Laurier students and members of the community.

Along with creating a new space for students to congregate in the sunshine, the Seminary is also in the process of applying for a name change to Martin Luther University College.

“The term Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, while it reflected who we once were as a primarily denominational school, no longer reflects who we are as a diverse multi-faith community,” Harris explained.

When it comes to the initial programming and courses offered at the seminary, there isn’t going to be a lot of changes.

“We’re not adding a whole lot more to our programming but we will be able to better accomplish what we’re doing now. We’re simply limited by not only our classroom space and gathering space but also by technological limitations,” Harris explained.

According to Harris, the Seminary is using this renovation as a way to give back to the Laurier community and will use this as an opportunity to allow for development within the area.

“While the Seminary is taking this renovation on our own, we are not receiving university funding or provincial funding. This is entirely an undertaking on our own. We hope that this is our contribution to the ongoing life of the entire university,” Harris explained.

With the addition being added to the Seminary facing Bricker, there is a goal to be a more aesthetically pleasing building which allows for the building to become a bridge to the community.

“We really value our partnership with Laurier. We are a federated school of Laurier, so in many things we are highly integrated with Laurier … we have [a] facility we want to share,” Harris said.

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