"We are blessed with a vital and growing church, the willing hearts and energies of many parishioners young and old. But what else is God asking us to do for each other and our community?" As we look at our many ministries, your vestry is asking, "what more can we be, and do our facilities enable those new ministries?"
Some things we want to be:
- Accessible to everyone, including elderly and disabled (we are currently not)
- As vital and alive in our physical spaces as we are in spirit
- Able to provide a home for new outreach in the future
- Fully utilize space we already have for ministry and community service
Through the generosity of a few focused parishioners led by Peter Tarlton, St. John’s completed a full architectural survey of the building and grounds in 2015. With this report, the Vestry was able to draft a Strategic Plan to maintain and improve our historic buildings.
Implementing this plan will increase the overall safety and accessibility of our building and grounds and enable St. John’s to be open to all to participate fully in worship, music, education and expand our community relationship building and events. Our mission includes “Welcoming All”. Currently the spirit is here, but our buildings can sometimes get in the way. With these projects complete, we can truly “Welcome All”.
The plan was broken down into three areas:
- Area 1: Increase safety
- Area 2: Improve Accessibility
- Area 3: Address deferred building maintenance projects and beautification
Area 1: Increase safety: Hardscape and Parking Lot
Timing: Summer 2016
Area 1 became an immediate need due to the increasingly unsafe condition of the grounds. If not done, our parking lot would have created ongoing safety issues and financial burden, as well as access to services and programs would have been limited. We repaired all the crumbling retaining walls, leveled and paved the sinking parking lot, replaced the leaning stairs around the back of Thaxter Hall, and installed new hand rails and sidewalks.
Payment: St. John’s borrowed $195,000 from the Episcopal Diocese of NH. It is a 5 year repayment plan at 3.5% interest. Additional income achieved through a new management partnership on the upper parking lot and increased annual stewardship proceeds will enable us to repay the loan and cover the balance of the project costs without withdrawing from the endowment.
The Vestry believes that to accomplish the next two Areas and repay the balance of the loan from Area 1, we will need to launch a Capital Campaign in 2017. We began interviewing fundraising consultants to develop a feasibility study to determine the project priorities and the funding capacity of the parish, and in September, we hired Leslie Pendleton with Episcopal Church Foundation.
ECF’s Capital Campaign Process has three distinct phases:
Phase 1 - Discernment: Discernment will help us listen, share, dream and connect around what God is calling us to do in the future. Then we can identify what resources are needed to answer that call.
We will have these conversations through small “cottage meetings” held at parishioners homes in the weeks following the annual meeting. Trained volunteer facilitators will lead the discussions to capture thoughts, ideas, dreams and passions for the future of the church. The notes from these meetings will be compared and summarized to determine common areas of interest and energy. The results will be communicated back to the full parish.
We want to hear from everyone. Sign up sheets will be available at the Annual Meeting as well as invitations sent by email.
Phase 2 - Feasibility Study: Once we have identified projects needed to fulfill our vision identified in Discernment, we will conduct a survey of the entire congregation to formally assess our readiness for a Capital Campaign. The Study will answer the questions: Does the St. John’s community understand the need for a campaign, do we agree and support it, and if so, how much will we contribute financially to realize the vision?
Phase 3 - Solicitation: The Ask: The Feasibility Study will determine if there is enough financial support to cover the expense of the projects determined to be priorities. If so, parishioners will be asked to pledge over 1 to 3 years.
John Tabor and Gerry Simpkins, our Senior and Junior Warden, have taken on the leadership of the Campaign. Connect with either of them if you have questions or would like to participate in a deeper way in the campaign.
The first Phase of the Capital Campaign is Discernment.
Discernment will help us identify our needs, involve others in the prayerful consideration of those needs, and communicate a collective vision for our ministry.
In 2010, we sought input from everyone in our church community through a survey and in study circles. As a result of those study circles new ideas and directions for our church were identified and implemented.
Your vestry and clergy think it is time to reach our again to see how we are doing on the changes recommended five years ago, and what new ideas we should pursue. We're also look at our physical building needs and a possible fund-raising campaign around them. Such long range thinking would require input from everyone in the church, especially about all the missions we want our church to accomplish "on the hill".
We're calling December and January a "time of discernment". At the end of January, we will invite all parishioners to participate in a small group gathering to talk about our future together at St. John's. It would be no more than 90 minutes of your time, and many of your friends in the congregation will be hosting and leading the discussion. It's an "informal formal process", and a chance to listen, to hear, and be heard.
So much has happened since 2010! We identified the need to change service times (DONE!), create a welcoming process for newcomers (DONE!), improve our church school and choir rehearsal space (DONE!), strengthen our youth programs, and more.
But we need your input on what we think God is call us to do in the future - and how we prepare and plan for that. As our church has grown and changed, have we as a church matured in our wisdom and ability to support new programs? How can we be more accessible to all? What should we do in and with the community around us? These are all questions we can't wait to talk about, and encourage you all to start thinking about!
You'll hear more in the days to come!