The First Lutheran Church of West Okoboji, Iowa gives its parishioners the option of worshipping inside their main church or by worshipping outside from the convenience of their vehicles as Rev. Perry Aalgaard and Associate Reverend Brian Jack deliver their summertime weekend messages from a drive-in outdoor stage-like church deck several feet above the ground.
Opening and closing this stage is a Schweiss bifold liftstrap door that offers a shaded canopy above the minister's head. The custom-made bifold door is 35.4 ft. wide by 14 ft. tall and features an automatic strap latch system.
Attending drive-in services at Okoboji, Iowa is a popular Memorial Day through Labor Day attraction. One service there brought in 265 cars from the popular state resort area with room for more.
The new two-level outdoor worship center, built and specially designed by Miracle Truss® Buildings of Spirit Lake, Iowa totals over 2,600 sq. ft. with a ceiling height of 26 ft.
“We did a heavy-duty header and jam system that was designed specifically for the bifold door. That also encapsulated some really beefy tie-backs that essentially go from the top of the framework of the door back into the building for extra support that keeps the endwall from pulling away from the building. It was all specifically designed with the door in mind. One thing unique about Miracle Truss®, when we do large bifold-style doors we specifically design the entire building around the door; we don't just build a building and then figure out a way to make the door work.”
- Corey Secrest, President
Miracle Truss® Buildings
A heavy-duty header and jam system was designed specifically for this large Schweiss bifold door. Some beefy tiebacks are shown here going from the top of the framework of the door back into the building for extra support.
Having wood studs every two feet allows the owner or contractor the ability to finish off the inside, add doors or windows, insulate, or make changes to the building at a later date. Different type roofing or siding material can also be installed.
According to Pastor Aalgaard, who has been at the pulpit for the past decade, the history of this “drive-in” church is quite remarkable and dates back nearly 75 years.
“There were some men from the congregation that wanted to reach out to the tourists coming to the lakes region area. They went to the local drive-in movie owner and asked if they offered to clean up the drive-in after Saturday night would he let them conduct a worship service there. They pulled in a hayrack and set up a microphone. Since then we've been running continuously. This is the third location we have been at; last year we decided to build a better facility for the drive-in services,” said Aalgaard.
As vehicles arrive, they are handed a church bulletin and a sealed container pod containing communion wine and a wafer. The worship service and music are transmitted through speakers and can also be listened to over the car radio. They were preaching out of the new 2,600 sq. ft. building before it was finished.
Visitors can listen to the worship service form a signal transmitted over their car radio or by a speaker system from the church. The summer through fall drive-in services are held from Memorial Day through Labor Day beginning at 8:30 a.m. followed by a service inside the larger parish church one hour later. The currrent size of the congregation is 1,800.
“Seating capacity inside the regular church building is 400. For the drive-in car services, the record we posted was 265 cars on one Sunday. That was during the 2020 Covid year and it was the first Sunday we figured out how to do an outdoor communion,” noted Aalgaard.
He explained that when the cars arrive they are handed a bulletin and a sealed communion pod container that incorporates a wafer in one side and wine on the other.
Pastor Aalgaard said he found out about Schweiss Doors while visiting a local farmer who recommended a bifold door. A visit to the Schweiss Doors website completed his search.
“The people at Schweiss were good to work with. The door works very nice, you push the button and it goes up, and you push the button and it goes down,” said Aalgaard.
“Schweiss makes it easy by supplying prints for the door. Our group of engineers takes Schweiss spec sheets and literally incorporates that into our engineering design. We didn't even need to talk to anyone at Schweiss because everything was already down on paper like you guys professionally do. You are very high quality - the best in the business.”
- Corey Secrest, President
Miracle Truss® Buildings
Corey Secrest, President of Miracle Truss® Buildings heads up a company whose mission and passion is to provide the highest quality clear span web steel truss buildings on the market.
Miracle Truss® Buildings use a simple, strong clear-span web steel truss method that comes in four easy bolt-together pieces that are test-assembled at the factory and are designed for the do-it-yourselfer. Their company now operates throughout all 50 states, Canada and overseas. They offer a 50-year frame warranty, a variety of dozens of colors and each building is engineered to use customer options for large door openings, skylights, upper panel lights, roofing, siding and trim options.
Miracle Truss® Buildings are overbuilt and designed for the do-it-yourselfer. Four truss pieces arrive at the building site where they are bolted together and tipped into the air where the legs simply bolt to the top of a concrete pier through pre-drilled holes in the column baseplate.
Secrest noted that Miracle Truss® is the building manufacturer; they don't erect the building, that is done by an independent contractor, as is the electrical, plumbing, etc. The church began this building project in early spring. CHC Construction of Sibley, Iowa erected the building.
“The church is very unique; it's a completely one-off custom design. A parapet, or protective front edge on the roof, is just for looks, but gives it a neat appeal. Where the door is located, the stage, all frame out in steel, is actually cantilevered past support that keeps the endwall from pulling away from the building. It was all specifically designed with the door in mind. One thing unique about Miracle Truss®, when we do large bifold-style doors we specifically design the entire building around the door; we don't just build a building and then figure out a way to make the door work,” explained Secrest.
Secrest said they didn't contact any other door companies before settling on Schweiss. He noted that the church door was referred to Miracle Truss® Buildings by the customer. Over the span of over 25 years he has been in the business, Secrest said he has used Schweiss industry-standard doors for many of their building needs and has never had an issue.
“Schweiss makes it easy by supplying prints for the door. Our group of engineers takes Schweiss spec sheets and literally incorporates that into our engineering design. We didn't even need to talk to anyone at Schweiss because everything was already down on paper like you guys professionally do. You are very high quality - the best in the business,” added Secrest.
Secrest compares his company to Schweiss whose bifold and hydraulic doors are “overbuilt.”
“Just like Schweiss, that's how we do things too; we overbuild our buildings. We don't want to be known as the cheapest building out there. We want to make sure our client base and prospects know that we are building a high-quality product here and that your doors are in the same lane as we are on the highway, just with a different product line,” concluded Secrest.
The First Lutheran Drive-in Church at Okoboji, Iowa has been offering drive-in worship services for nearly 75 years starting out at a local drive-in movie theatre with the pastor preaching from a hayrack.