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Church That Lost Steeple Due to Storm to Get Boost From Dance Performance

By Victoria Johnson | November 27, 2013 9:14am
 Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church
Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church
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Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church

AVONDALE — Though Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church is still reeling from the loss of its steeple and the related costs, a friend has come forward to help them out.

The Joel Hall Dancers will donate part of the proceeds from a matinee performance of "Nuts & Bolts Excerpts" on Sunday at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., to help the church recover. Church officials have said the steeple's removal had put Concordia more than $100,000 in debt.

"We were like, 'No, we're not going to abandon you — we're going to help,'" said Joel Hall Dance Center Executive Director Valerie Bushey.

The center had already been in talks with the church to make it a satellite center for dance lessons, so for Bushey, who lives just six houses away from the church in Avondale, it was both of personal and professional interest to help the church out.

"Personally it was impactful seeing the steeple come down, so I talked to the board of directors and they said, 'We have to find a way to help,'" she said. "We added the [Sunday matinee] show a day or two before the steeple thing happened, so it was like, 'Oh, this is meant to be.'"

Bushey said 86 of 218 seats were still available as of Tuesday evening. If the show sells out, proceeds from 100 of the tickets will go to the church. Otherwise, proceeds from all ticket buyers who identify themselves as being there for the Concordia fundraiser will go to the church.

The $40 benefit tickets can be bought here (make sure to select the Dec. 1 show and the $40 tickets), and someone at the door will ask patrons if they are there for the fundraiser.

As for the show itself, Bushey described it as a "jazzier" version of "The Nutcracker" with original music by Tchaikovsky, as well as Duke Ellington's "Nutcracker Suite," and further modernized with house music.

She said "Nuts & Bolts" to "The Nutcracker" is kind of like what "Wicked" is to the "Wizard of Oz."

"It's like, insane. It's really fun. It has a whimsical nature but you'll identify scenes from the original 'Nutcracker,'" she said.

Church secretary Katrina Fricke said though the church is struggling, she and other church administrators appreciate the support they've gotten from Joel Hall and the like.

"We are so incredibly grateful for Joel Hall stepping in and doing this for us," Fricke said in an email Tuesday. "It's an honor that they would go out of their way to help us out in our time of need.

"The same goes for the community. We've gotten so many emails and phone calls from community members who may never have stepped foot in our church or have been there once or twice. They want to help. We are now finding ways that they can help."

The church has set up a PayPal account for donations and has other plans in the works for fundraisers, including a bake sale Dec. 7 that will include also include candies, crafts and Christmas gifts.

Fricke said the church is still looking for vendors for the sale and invited anyone interested to email her.

In the meantime, the church will host a special Thanksgiving service at 10 a.m. Thursday, and Fricke said church leaders have been working to come up with more ideas on how to pay down their daunting debt and perhaps one day replace the steeple.

"It's going to take active fundraising activities and events to help us foot the bill," she said.