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Church Facilities Conversation

We would like to invite everyone in our church family to come together in the Auditorium on the evening of Wednesday, June 23rd in order to talk about our church facilities.
For the past 14 months, our church Café has not been in operation on Sunday mornings, thus providing access to the gym for our Children’s Ministry program.  This availability has been a significant benefit to Pastor Chris as he leads our Children’s Ministry program.  Pastor Brady has also made use of the gym from time to time on Sunday mornings for Student Ministries.
As we are getting closer to the re-opening of the Café, we realize that there are numerous ministries that would appreciate access to the gym on Sunday mornings.  This awareness caused the Church Board to begin examining not just the use of the gym, but our church facilities as a whole, discussing how we can make the best use of the space that we have.
A meeting of the Planning & Development Committee (consisting of the Church Board, Finance Committee, Grounds & Maintenance Committee, and staff) was called in mid-May where a number of options were explored in an effort to make better use of our space.  The P & D Committee believes that there are several steps that can be taken – in phases – that can help us make better use of our facilities. 
Before taking any of these steps, the P & D Committee would like to share with you some of the options they are exploring, and then look to receive your feedback and your suggestions.  We will be holding a congregational meeting on Wednesday evening, June 23rd at 7:00 P.M. in the Auditorium.  We hope that you will be able to attend and take part in the conversation.
Here are some of the possibilities that the P & D Committee envisions as part of the…
 
FIRST PHASE:
  • Relocate the Mailboxes.   In the early 1990’s it was decided that the mailroom would be located just outside of the Multi-Purpose room (where services were held) in order to make it convenient for our congregation to receive their church mail.
The mailroom remains at that same location to this day, currently consisting of 8 units (6 wide, 2 narrow) that contain over 500 mail slots.  For the past 14 months, these mail slots have rarely been used as most of our households have been receiving their church mail electronically.  However there are 129 households in our congregation that do not have internet access or email, and so for the past year, important church information has been sent to these households through the U.S. Mail. 
We believe we can eliminate a majority of the mailboxes due to the fact that many in our church family are accustomed to and prefer receiving church news electronically. We are recommending that we take the two narrow units (which contain 160 slots) and move them to the Auditorium level, most likely along one of the narrow walls in the cloakroom. This will ensure that those129 households who do not have the internet will continue to receive church news. In addition to these 129 households, there may be a number of households in our congregation who are able to receive information electronically but still prefer keeping their church mailbox.
Making this change would have several benefits:
  1. It will make getting mail much more convenient for those who need or would like a mailbox.
  2. It frees up the current mailroom for other purposes. 
  3. It would continue to move us in the direction of less paper waste.
  • Move the Café to the Mailroom and Lower Foyer.  Once the mailbox units and other items are removed from the mailroom, this room could serve as the “Hub” for the Café.  This room would be in close proximity to the church kitchen.  The Coffee Island would be placed in the center of the room so there would be access from all sides.  Our other Food/Beverage Islands could be placed just outside the mailroom where tables and chairs are currently stored. 
At some point in the future the wall between the mailroom and the hallway leading into the gym could possibly be removed and open up this area even further.  Support columns would need to remain in place and fire doors would need to be moved to the other end of the hall.
After rearranging or removing items in the Lower Foyer just outside the current mailroom, some of our round café tables (large and small) could be set throughout this area for those who wish to sit and talk.  Secondary seating areas could be considered as well.  The new Coffee Station outside the Auditorium provides a viable option for those who prefer standing while conversing.
This entire area (Current Mailroom/Lower Foyer) currently has carpet that is in relatively good condition.  Options include keeping the carpet in place until such a time that it needs replaced (due to food and beverage spills), or going ahead and replacing it with laminate flooring prior to the Café’s reopening (which we envision taking place in August). 
There are several benefits to this recommendation:
  1. It frees up the gym on Sunday morning for Children’s Ministry and Student Ministry. 
  2. It would breathe new life into an area that has seen little use as of late.  As people enter through the main entrance, they would observe a church experiencing “Community Life” through the doors to their left.
  3. The Coffee and Food Islands, tables, and chairs could remain in place throughout the week.  It would not be necessary to bring in a crew on Saturday night to set everything up in the gym, nor do we need everything to be torn down, taken away, and stored at the end of the services. 
  • Build a Receptionist Area just inside the Main Entrance.
Back in the early 1990’s the decision was made to put the offices (pastoral and office staff) on the second floor. While this made sense at that time, the reality is that upon entering our church our guests have a way to travel before encountering an actual person.
The suggestion has been made to take a portion of the area near the fish tank and construct an enclosed office where one or more of the office staff could work during business hours. We envision creating an office window just inside the Main Entrance where guests would be greeted personally by someone from our office staff.
Here are some of the possibilities that the P & D Committee envisions as part of the…
SECOND PHASE:
  • Renovation of the Chapel (both levels).  Several months ago Pastor Brady shared with the Church Board the desire to find a permanent home for Student Ministries where our youth would not feel isolated from the rest of the church.  Brady submitted a proposal where a second “Multi-Purpose Room” (in addition to the gym) would be created, and could be used as a permanent home for Student Ministries.  This could be accomplished by renovating the Chapel. 
In order for the Chapel to become a Multi-Purpose area, it would require the removal of the pews.  However, in order to ensure that we could continue to use the Chapel for classes, weddings, and funerals, we would purchase quality padded chairs that could be set in rows in place of the pews.  When used by Student Ministries, these chairs could be removed and set aside, creating a large open space.  In short, the Chapel would become a second multi-use area that – with the exception of Sunday mornings – could serve as the home for Student Ministries. 
Included in this proposal would be improvements to the lower level of the Chapel (including the renovation of our secondary kitchen), and this is where Student Ministries could be take place on Sunday mornings. 
Here are some of the possibilities that the P & D Committee envisions as part of the… 
THIRD PHASE:
  • Renovate the Mezzanine, creating two classrooms.  It is possible that the two classes that traditionally meet in the Chapel and Chapel Wing could eventually choose to meet in these new classrooms on this upper level.  Access would be easy with a wide stairwell or elevator access.  This would also free up both levels of the Chapel to be used by Student Ministries on Sunday mornings.
  • Use the Lower Level (beneath the gym) for Long Term Storage.  Perhaps the best option for this “out of the way” area of the church is to use it for long-term storage.  Because the Mezzanine has become an area for storage, its renovation would require that we find another long-term storage area.  On the Lower Level, there are numerous small unused classrooms along one side of the hallway, and each room could be designated as long-term storage areas for specific ministries.
While some of these options could be done without much expense, some aspects such as the renovation of the Mezzanine could require significant funds.  At this time we do not envision a major building project in our future, and so we can talk about the possibility of using some of the $250,000 that currently resides in our Building Fund.  There may be other options that you would like to suggest for consideration.
 
We know that this is a lot to digest, and so please read through this several times over the next few weeks in order to discern advantages and any challenges presented with each recommendation.  We look forward to your input during our meeting on Wednesday, June 23rd!