Dear Friends First steps update: November 2013
Our church has taken the first few baby steps toward expanding our physical footprint in Gainesville. Expansion will allow us to live and move more fully into our vision, “Encounter and Share Jesus Christ.”
During this last year we have had 6 planning meetings with our architect, Jim DePasquale of the DG Group in Richmond. These involved all of the leaders of the church and its ministries, and a town hall meeting with the whole congregation to report on progress. Jim mentioned that he has worked with over 150 congregations and has not encountered one other church which packs as much ministry action into as small a space as Church of the Word!
About 60 neighborhood families have children at our own Little Lambs Village Preschool (LLVP). Community groups such as: the Girl Scouts, AA, grief and loss support, and a local homeowners association use our space. We also host a small Korean congregation. This fall we have impacted the lives of several families through the Alpha Parenting class. Seven families went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class and in the first couple of months shaved thousands off their debt burden and finally learned to use the tools to get their family budgets under control. The building is also used for women’s fellowship, youth and children’s events, music practice, play practice, outreach events and special events both from the church and from the community. An amazing use of just 5,000 sq. feet!
The purpose of this letter is to report back to you on our progress, and specifically to share the interim design concept on the enclosed paper. Our chief discovery is that our 2.7 acre property should allow a modest expansion, more than tripling the size of our current space and allowing for dedicated worship and ministry areas. We need to stress that these concept drawings are not approved, and probably will be revised as we continue with the next stage of the development. But we think that, if built, it will meet the needs of our congregations as it expands its outreach to the community. The vestry’s policy has been to pay as we go for any development, hence the “First Steps” campaign. We see three major steps ahead of us.
First step, complete the ‘first steps mini-campaign’, to raise $100,000 seed money.
We’ve established the “mini-campaign” to raise $100,000 quickly so that we can fund these necessary exploratory studies. We are looking for 100 individuals to each donate $1,000 to our “First Steps” campaign. Several have already stepped up to the challenge, and we are grateful for your generosity. We’re praying that members of our congregation (past and present), and friends with a heart for the gospel, will also step up to this challenge by pitching in themselves and by asking their friends to help us out in this time of need, challenge, and adventure. Can we count on your support? An appreciation gift is ready for the first 100 to help us step forward. All you need to do is fill out the enclosed card and mail it back in the enclosed envelope. Your gift is tax deductible and we would love to hear back before the end of 2013.
Second step, pay off our mortgage, which is currently about $480,000.
Unfortunately, the Episcopal diocese received most of the VDOT compensation we were entitled to because of the road construction. They took nearly $2 million from us in an April 2011 settlement. The result has left us with extensive repairs to the impacted property and no funds to pay off our mortgage as we had planned. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” This mortgage debt has been hanging over the church since we bought the building in 1993! It is time to retire the debt. We are looking for large significant gifts to get rid of this encumbrance quickly so we can move on to the next stage of our development. We would be happy to sit down with significant donors to explain our plan in more detail. The scripture promises, ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.’ Joel 2:25.
Third step, raise funds for the construction of the expansion.
After we complete first steps, we will have more accurate estimates for our construction costs. By then we will have completed the vertical aspects of the building and had more detailed conversations with Prince William County. The master plan shows approximately 17,000 square feet of new construction and renovation to our existing 5,500 square foot blue building. The main features are:
- Increasing the sanctuary seating to about 210 people (doubling our current capacity)
- More children’s ministry space to be shared with Little Lambs (up to 5 classrooms)
- A cluster of offices for parish administration
- A small south facing garden bounded on 3 sides by the building
- An 85-space parking area and new entrances to Logos Way and Charis Drive
- A wide concourse connecting all of the new construction to the refurbished old (blue) building
- A large, covered narthex for hospitality/flex use
- An enlarged kitchen, opening to the narthex and parish hall
- Remodeling of the existing building for use as the parish hall and youth ministry space
We will know more about the cost and timing of this project after our First Steps phase is complete. We will be depending upon every member of our parish in supporting this building as much as possible, and receiving generous help from outside donors, perhaps those who have supported the Episcopal Church in the past and now feel, like us, that responsible giving must be to authentic Christian communities.
Finally, we all know that a church is not a building. It is more than bricks and mortar. It is the people of God, and how they serve their community for Christ. Our purpose in considering an expansion of our facility is first and foremost to do a better job of serving our flock and reaching out to the surrounding neighborhoods. We believe we’ve approached the limits of what we can do with our current building. With God’s help, we will reach in faith toward a bigger vision for service. And this can begin with a larger facility that will allow us to grow and do more for the Lord. We hope you share this vision.
Pastor and Vestry