Friday, May 16, 2014

Our Future…

I’ve had the earth on my mind as of late. Our community garden will open soon. A member donated a new dishwasher to us so we can waste less and care for Creation more. To do that, by the way, we all must bring coffee cups to church, which we’ll use during fellowship (instead of Styrofoam). And to make that happen, we’re setting a fun goal for June 1, that every Plymouth Creeker brings an “ugly mug” to worship. Whomever’s submission is deemed the most wonderfully “ugly mug” gets a free bag of coffee or box of tea from our earth-friendly, free-trade Equal Exchange store. We’ll then hang the mugs on our coat rack and place in the dishwasher after using. The child care center will replace for us once clean, and our waste will decline, and the earth will say, Wahoo!

And not only our waste will decline, but so too has waste from the child care center already. They’re daily making use of it, lowering our facility’s environmental impact dramatically. It also lowers their operating costs, ensuring they can focus better on their kids and teachers. When the church is a good partner with God’s Creation and our neighbors, we do God’s work. Simple as that.

Which brings me to another way I’ve been thinking about the earth: the church’s long-term relationship with our child care center tenant. As you know, Yellow Brick Road has operated in our facility over the past seven years. During that time, their business has grown and improved, as has their working relationship with us. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. YBR keeps costs for families well below their competitors because they rent with us. That allows some families who otherwise can’t find quality, affordable early learning to do exactly that! At the same time, PCCC could not sustain our current budget without YBR’s contribution. That means the worship, choir, small groups, outreach, fellowship, funerals, etc. wouldn’t take place if not for our YBR friends.

But the relationship comes with costs as well as benefits, which understand better now than ever. We each have growth pressures we struggle to meet with the other in our spaces. PCCC incurs significant facility depreciation costs as 40+ young ones joyfully run around daily. In a couple years, their lease will end, so we’re thinking about the future now. And as that’s occurred, a solution has emerged that I wanted to share with you.

Namely, we need to build; a new wing for primarily child care center use. It will be available for church use when necessary, but will mostly house YBR’s operations. The Board considered this idea at its March retreat, and it appeared good stewardship of God’s gifts and mission to us. Plans are still under discussion; a buildings team is working with YBR to achieve what’s best for both entities. FYI, some of the current arrangement will remain, like the nursery and toddler classroom.

But gone will the Sunday slog of chairs and tables out of the sanctuary into fellowship hall. Gone will be kids daily running up and down our main hallway and narthex. Gone will be our rarely scheduling weekday/night activities for not having enough space. Bathrooms will be cleaner. Clutter will decrease. And we’ll build something as green as we can make it.
Financially, you’ll want to know that YBR intends to pay for the expansion, if we take out the loan. This is risky for both sides, so will include a 15+ year agreement to be good partners together. And that’s a positive thing! When good ministry is happening, we should sustain and grow it, be that quality early learning for kids in need, or loving, free-thinking, open-tabled church. Indeed, that’s the main thing I learn as I ponder the earth- When we have a chance to enhance its long-term good, we take it. That betters the world. It’s responsible. It serves God!

Grace and Peace,

P.S. - And, of course, I want to hear your thoughts as we go about this process. It’s still very early on, which is why I’m bringing it up now, so our collective wisdom can make it the best it can be!

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