After four years of planning, Farmington’s Hope Lutheran Church is ready to take the next big step in its growth.

Evidence of that growth went up for all to see earlier this month in the form of a bright orange and white sign along Highway 3 at the site of a planned new church building.

That’s a long way from where Hope Lutheran was when pastor Dan Oberer came to town about eight years ago. Back then, the church’s congregation was just Oberer and the three other members of his family. They held worship services at Farmington Elementary School.

Growth came slowly but steadily. After a few years the church moved to a commercial space on Fourth Street. These days the congregation has about 70 members.

“It’s been methodical,” Oberer said of the growth. “It hasn’t been, you open the door and there are 200 people waiting for you.”

Now that congregation is ready to take the next step. The church has bought five acres of land in Empire Township. There are no designs yet for the building, but Oberer expects a “modest” structure, Something the congregation can expand as it continues to grow.

Oberer said church members from 12 years old to 60 and older will be part of the planning process.

The building is only part of that process. Oberer said the church wants to find ways to use its land that will benefit the rest of the community. That might mean providing a spot where the church could hold a blood drive, or community space to meet some of the needs in the township.

“One of the things we’re going to be doing down the road is approach Empire, see what they can use,” Oberer said. “We have some space. Is there anything we can do together here? The possibilities are endless.”

The congregation will continue planning its new home throughout the winter. Oberer hopes to break ground as soon as the weather allows it next spring. He said he’s already gotten some supportive phone calls from people who have seen the sign.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for five years,” Oberer said. “It’s almost like a wedding. All this planning and now it’s finally here and you’re excited about it.”