Building Project

Onalaska United Methodist Church is “Building to Serve” our congregation and community. The proposed addition will build a new narthex/lobby with a parking-lot level covered drop-off and entrance, new and larger handicapped-accessible restrooms, easier access to the lower level fellowship hall, and lots of room for storage or future expansion on the lower level. The existing narthex/lobby will be used for flexible purposes including overflow seating for worship and special events. This is Phase 1 of the master plan developed in 2016.

2018 Pledge Form (PDF) – print and return to church.

Electronic Giving – use electronic giving and choose “Building Fund” from the Giving Type menu.

Learn more about our building project:

Video  |  Mission  |  Information  |  Timeline & History  |  Capital Campaign  |  Testimony

Project Video


line drawing of 1971 Methodist church
The education wing (1959) and current sanctuary (1971) were connected by an underground tunnel prior to the construction of the center office and classrooms (1985).

The mission of Onalaska United Methodist Church is to be an inviting, welcoming, and accepting congregation so that all may become devoted followers of Christ.

The mission of the building project is to provide space that is…

  1. Inviting – attractive to people and groups in the Onalaska community and region
  2. Welcoming – pleasant, comfortable, and easy to use for members and guests
  3. Accepting – accommodating all people, including those with mobility challenges and disabilities
  4. Discipling – making followers of Jesus through abundant, functional space for worship, education, and fellowship
  5. Transforming – room for existing and new outreach and mission activities serving our community and the world
  6. Forward-Looking – providing room for new growth and opportunities as God’s Kingdom continues to be revealed


line drawing of 1907 Onalaska Methodist Church
This church served from 1907 to 1970, then was torn down to make room for the current sanctuary. High school graduation services were held here in the early 1900s.

Information and brochures can be downloaded here:

Floor and Site Plans – The most recent plans for the new building.

Pictures and Views – Some computer-generated images of the new building.

Using IRA QCD’s – Members 70.5 years and older may receive significant tax benefits by making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from their IRA.

Timeline & History

line drawing of 1866 Methodist church
The first Methodist church in Onalaska was built in 1866 where the current sanctuary sits. Church was an important center for community meetings and information.

Previous generations have planned well to serve the needs of the church and community. United Methodists have worshiped in Onalaska since 1856. A little white church (built 1866; remodeled 1907) preceded the current church. The current structure was built in four phases. In 1959 the education wing was constructed to serve our burgeoning Sunday School program. The sanctuary was built in 1971 to replace the old church. In 1985 the offices and additional Sunday School rooms were built to join the two structures. In 2001 a major renovation re-oriented the worship space, added the glorious stained glass window, and expanded the narthex/lobby area.

Since 2001, Onalaska UMC has been buying the houses and properties on the block in order to have space for expansion. Now it is our turn to plan for the future. The current project timeline is:

2011… Property Planning Committee formed to begin planning the next phase

2015… Church Council approved professional design study and feasibility study

2016 Spring… Feasibility study conducted by the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation

2016 Fall… Church member vote to approve capital campaign at October 23 Church Conference

2017 Spring… “Building to Serve” capital campaign conducted by The James Company

2017 Summer… Working group revises building plan to fit capital campaign results

2017 Fall… Church conference to approve building plan. Vote will be required to proceed with building project

2018 Spring… Construction begins

2018 Fall… Building completed and dedicated

Capital Campaign

We conducted a capital campaign, “Building to Serve,” in spring of 2017. The active phase of the capital campaign was completed June 4, 2017. We raised $835,000 (as of August 2017) and continue to receive additional gifts.

Our current building project is projected to cost $1.1 million as of September 2017. We continue to do fundraising and welcome gifts and pledges. The difference between pledged giving and the cost of the project will be covered by loans as necessary.

Many thanks to the capital campaign core group for their hard work: Jerry Arndt (campaign chair), Duane Lom (campaign treasurer), Mark Bertrang (lay leader), Wes Panzer (council chair), Rhonda Akeson, Ryan Geister, Doug Huggett, Earl Sanders, Dave Trapp, Nancy Quinlisk, Park Hunter (pastor), John Clark (campaign consultant). Additionally, dozens of other church leaders and volunteers helped with various events.