Here’s a recap of what has been happening since the last update was published on March 14th.
April & May: Commitment Weekend
On the Sundays after Easter we celebrated the ministry God has given us here at St. Paul. God connects us with Christ Jesus, our Savior, through his Word and Sacraments. He connects us to each other as brothers and sisters in his family. He connects with our community and gives us opportunities to connect to the world around us with the gospel.
The first Sunday in May was our Commitment Weekend. God’s people here at St. Paul generously responded with over $4 million in commitments. Commitments continued to be made in the following weeks, so that as of July 22, 2018 a total of $4,177,080 has been committed by 148 of our families.
May & June: Building Committee & Finance Committee Meetings
Once we knew the total commitments, our Building Committee and Finance Committee got back to work, wrestling with the tough questions about what to recommend to our congregation as we keep moving forward together. Some of those tough questions included: Do we have the resources to build (and build well) both a sanctuary and an early learning center? If not, what should we prioritize at this time? What size mortgage can we realistically support in the future? Even if we are unable to build everything we would like at this time, what can we do to support and continue all the different aspects of our ministry here?
Hours of discussion helped crystalize answers to those questions, and by the beginning of July, the Building Committee and Finance Committee were ready to bring a proposal back to our church council and to our congregation for discussion.
July: Open Forums
Open forums were held on July 8th and 9th. Building Committee chairman Mike Shiels shared an update on the Building Committee’s work, including the fact that the Building Committee was planning to recommend moving ahead with the construction of a new sanctuary. He fielded questions at each forum. A short survey was sent out via email, to which 14 members responded with questions and input.
Building Committee Recommendation
Following the open forums, our Building Committee published its official recommendation. That recommendation is printed in its entirety at the end of this update. It includes the reasons why the building committee and our church council recommended that the sanctuary be the focus of construction at this time. It also lists the resolutions that would be included in a “Yes” vote from our voters.
Voters’ Meeting July 22nd
A voters’ meeting was held on Sunday, July 22nd following the late morning service. After about an hour of discussion, ballots were distributed and cast. 53 of our voting members were present. The vote was 47 “Yes,” 5 “No,” with 1 abstaining.
In the immediate future, our Building Committee and Finance Committee will follow up with the work approved by our voters (cf. the recommendation printed below). The main tasks are for our Building Committee to re-engage with the architects from Excel, and for our Finance Committee to negotiate the terms of our construction loan.
There are things you can be doing, too! Pray for our congregation and for those in the middle of the planning. This is going to be an exciting and busy year for us as we get to build a place where generations to come will get to know and worship their Savior. If you haven’t already, we’d love to have you make a commitment with us to support this project. Extra commitment cards are available by the display in the gathering area. Or, fill out the online commitment form on our website.
The following longer-term timeline was introduced at the voters’ meeting on July 22nd. All of these dates are tentative at this point, representing the pace at which we would like to move if God so allows:
July 2018 We begin working again with the architects at Excel
Oct/Nov 2018 We finalize the design
Dec/Jan 2018 We start bidding out the work.
Feb/March 2019 Our voters’ give final approval on definite plans and definite costs
March/April 2019 We begin construction.
Check the previous project updates for other FAQs:
What are the current plans for the sanctuary?
Our work with the architects was put on hold last fall after the renderings were completed. Since then, our capital campaign has helped determine the size of our project, and our congregation has voted on the scope. That gives us the direction we need to begin working with the architect again on a detailed set of drawings that, God-willing, will take us through construction.
As our Building Committee begins working again with the architects, they’ll have two main things in hand: 1) the renderings presented last September, and 2) a list of the changes, comments, and ideas compiled from our members’ comments and the Building Committee meetings. Last September the estimated cost of the sanctuary addition as drawn in the renderings was $6-6.5 million. In order to move the project to the target of $5 million, we will need to cut some of the square footage. Here are the three areas that are the most likely:
- We could leave the future fellowship hall (the room in which we currently worship) the same size as it is right now, rather than extending it. We might then also leave out the extra office space currently drawn along the fellowship hall extension.
- We could reduce the square footage of the gathering area.
- We could reduce the square footage of the sanctuary.
In addition, there have been many concerns about parking—regarding both the number of spots and their proximity to the sanctuary. Those and other concerns will need to be addressed. If you have suggestions, share them with Mike Shiels, our Building Committee chairman. His contact info in on the first page of this update. At this point it seems safe to say that the final building will not be the same as the renderings last fall, but will likely have many aspects that are similar.
How do we end up with a $3-3.5 million mortgage after construction?
Here’s a summary of what was presented at the voters’ meeting on July 22nd. These numbers are rounded to the nearest million for the sake of simplicity:
$2 million is our current mortgage
plus $5 million for the projected cost of our new sanctuary
equals $7 million is the amount we need
minus $4 million expected in commitments made by our members
total $3 million is the approximate goal for our new mortgage after construction
On July 22nd our voters’ approved a final mortgage of up to $3.5 million. That extra $0.5 million recognizes that we will need to keep servicing our mortgage during construction and that we will likely need to set aside contingency funds to react to unforeseen issues that arise. In the best case scenario, our final mortgage will be closer to $3 million, but we need to allow for other possible scenarios as well.
If we don’t completely pay off our current mortgage by March 2019, will that slow down the construction timeline?
The more we can pay down our current mortgage, the better our financial position to begin construction will be. If there is a balance remaining on our current mortgage when we are ready to break ground, we will likely use part of the construction loan to make the final payment. We would need to make sure in that case that our combined gifts and the construction loan would complete the building.
What if I want to revisit the commitment I made?
We know that a number details were still undecided at the beginning of May when we held our Commitment Weekend. Most significantly, we have decided to go ahead with planning a new sanctuary.
If at this time you want to revisit your commitment to “125 Years of Connecting” or if you’d like to make a new commitment, please contact Gerry Heckmann as soon as you are able. His contact info is on the first page of this update. Or, drop a new/revised commitment card in the church-shaped box by the display in the gathering area at St. Paul. The further we move along, the more we need firm figures about the resources we can expect to have as we all work together here at St. Paul.
Building Committee Recommendation
Sent out via email to our members on Friday, July 20, 2018.
Approved at our voters’ meeting on Sunday, July 22, 2018.
Dear Members of St. Paul and Coworkers in the Kingdom of Our God,
Please find below the recommendation that the Church Council will present to the congregation at the special voters meeting this Sunday, July 22nd at 11:15am This is the recommendation that Building Committee presented to the Church Council last week and was adopted by the Church Council. It contains a plan on how to proceed with our building program at this time and a financial plan to accomplish it. Prayerfully read it over and come to the meeting so that we can make a decision together for the future of our gospel work.
Last year the congregation gave the Building Committee permission to engage Excel Engineering to provide renderings for a master site plan for the space needs identified by our members for our growing ministries in worship and in early childhood. Estimates of the cost of the master site plan that Excel provided was around $10-12 million not counting the current mortgage of $2 million.
We set a goal of $5 million for our capital campaign hoping that we could build both a sanctuary and enlarge the early learning center at the same time. The initial response of the Capital Campaign was $4.2 million in cash and in-kind gifts.
At the time of the capital campaign we had not made any decision regarding what part of the new master site plan we would build first if we did not reach the goal we had set and we made no decision about when to end the Bountiful Blessings offering which is paying off our current mortgage and when to transition to giving for the new building program.
Since the commitment Sunday on May 6th the Building Committee, which includes a financial subcommittee, has been wrestling with how best to go forward in addressing both our worship and early childhood needs. Based on those discussions, the Building Committee believes that it is best to go forward at this time with building a sanctuary and, as soon as funds become available, to continue with building the early learning center. Some of the reasons for the decision are as follows:
Lending institutions were contacted and a financial plan was put in place which would enable us to address worship needs with a new sanctuary, a chapel, a larger gathering area, and a fellowship hall leaving us with a mortgage of somewhere between $3-3.5 million. (Recall that our current mortgage was originally $3.5). This financial plan takes in to account an in-kind gift that would enable us to cut the cost of the sanctuary by about $1 million.
Building a new sanctuary first would open up a number of activity and storage spaces which would help the growing early childhood ministry at this time.
Although the market analysis indicated that the early childhood ministry could help fund the building program, the start-up costs and the three-year window that it would take for the program to become self-funding would delay the building of a new sanctuary for a long time and increase our budget substantially.
Although the Building Committee believes that this is the most prudent way to proceed, it is the hope and prayer of the Building Committee that, should we receive another $1.5 million in commitments now, we could begin a phase-in plan for the early learning center as soon as possible.
Based on this information, the Building Committee and the Church Council recommend to the voters the following:
1. That St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church contract with Excel for architectural and engineering design services for a $5 million sanctuary, chapel, gathering area, and fellowship area. Fees not to exceed $300,000.
2. That St. Paul approve the use of the in-kind gift of $750,000 for construction management.
3. That we accept the financial plan adopted by the Building Committee which includes the following:
a. That with upfront gifts we try, with God’s help, to pay down as much as possible the current mortgage of $2 million by March of 2019.
b. That we give approval to begin negotiating as soon as possible the terms of the construction loan not to exceed indebtedness of $5 million.
c. That after construction we approve a mortgage of no more than $3.5 million.
4. That we officially begin the “125 Years of Connecting” building fund on August 1, 2018.
5. That we encourage members who have not yet made a commitment to do so now.
6. That, since we now have a direction regarding what we will be building, members who have already made a commitment inform Gerry Heckmann regarding any changes they would like to make to their commitment.