Thursday, January 29, 2015

Glory details…

Our annual church budget is about $145,000; not huge, but given our size, it’s not tiny either. Together, we make more happen than any observer would likely expect! But supposed we more than doubled that amount, and not simply it to pay more bills, but to change the lives of neighbors in need? Plus, it strengthened our budget too?

I’m referring, of course, to the building project I wrote about last week. I mentioned that we’re approaching a decision point, following meetings with contractors. Some of you wanted further details before a congregational meeting. That seemed sensible. So here’s more, with final details to come.

First, the expansion’s scope. Basically, we’re looking at 8 or so additional rooms- some new construction attached to the west wing, some renovation of that space. Everything will be “dual use,” meaning what’s used by the child care center during business hours is accessible to church programming after. Plus, our kitchen will be renovated, probably expanded.

Consider what that allows… No longer are kids and youth crowded out or crammed into hallways. No longer are adults battling for enough space for classes or meetings. No longer are ministry ideas postponed due to no room. Instead, we’d have sufficient space for better activities now, plus significant room for development. Also, we’d have a dedicated fellowship hall again, a better kitchen, enhanced welcoming and gathering areas. Music ministry space would enlarge, moving closer to the sanctuary. In other words, we’d finally have room to grow.

So would Yellow Brick Road child care, which brings us to the project’s financing. We received a proposal last Monday estimating $784,000. We’re glad for hard numbers, finally! They’re also larger than we wanted, so we’ve asked the builders to cut costs, while our and YBR leadership explore further savings ideas. Ultimately, we think it’s possible to get to $500,000-$550,000. Plus, those numbers represent more than new space for kids and programing. They also achieve several long-discussed church goals.

For instance, heating and cooling would be extended throughout the building, meaning increased energy efficiency, plus AC in the sanctuary and fellowship hall (finally!). We’d tackle other deferred maintenance, like kitchen cleaning/updating and replacing deteriorating windows. We’d solve the serious problem of how YBR’s operations accelerates depreciation and unsightliness in our hospitality centers and bathrooms. Some issues would remain, but we’d make significant progress.

To pay for it, we’d apply to Church Extension, our current loan holder. Assuming they back the project, and once it’s complete, we’d collect increased rent from YBR to cover the increased mortgage. We’d sign a 20-year lease so we both have long-term security and commitment, which would carry us beyond the 15-year repayment period. Also, current YBR contributions to our budget would continue, stabilizing that essential income for decades. Finally, to afford their portion, YBR will open 17 new spaces, hopefully all given to kids from low-income families on IOCP and county scholarships. Those scholarships represent at least $10,000 annually invested in a struggling family’s future. So it’s like our budget more than doubles in perpetuity, solely for outreach purposes, because we’re willing to risk opening our building to young families surrounded by service and love.

Please know that one possible challenge will be securing the 10% down payment Church Extension requires. We’ve agreed to provide at least half, considering how much benefit we’ll receive. Because YBR has paid architect fees thus far (over $10,000), we’re looking at needing $30,000-$50,000 cash-on-hand to secure loan approval. That may seem like a lot to come up with, and soon. Can we do it? It could mean repurposing some funds collected for previous facility improvements. As well, we may need new pledges and donations from Plymouth Creekers and friends. Will you help with that? It’s a big ask, I know. But I suspect that the more we ponder the stunning impact of what could be, the more we’re willing to give to make it happen.

After all, there’s glory in these details. We’d have a church that literally screamed, “We care about families! Bring yours here! Let’s grow together!” We’d worship, learn and fellowship in more attractive, comfortable places. We’d have more energy and capacity for reaching out, and a more stable budget and facility outlook. Plus, we’d literally change the odds for many families and kids needing help to beat bad odds. And that’s worth risking for. We built this church, after all, for something enormous: Ushering in God’s Kingdom among us. With your help, we can take a huge step on that journey.

Please let me know your concerns or hopes, and any financial support you’d like to provide.

Grace and Peace,
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