Written by Harold Tessendorf, Chair, Facilities Master Plan Committee
As I prepared to write this update about the master plan committee, I sought counsel from a diverse group of church members. Words of wisdom that I took away from those conversations included “stewardship”, “building infrastructure for community”, “mission” and “hard decisions”. I heard about the bold ways that earlier generations of this church have re-configured our campus to faithfully combine mission with the needs that they saw.
Per its charge, the Master Plan Committee has begun to generate options about how our church generation (yes, that includes each of you reading this column!) might best use our entire campus to faithfully further the church’s mission, all the while remaining a viable, invaluable part of the wider community we call home. This involves experimentation and thinking creatively and positively about our future. Much of the committee’s early focus has fallen on the Washington Avenue building, some parts of which are currently used during the Sunday School and church hour, and on Wednesday nights. After involving all stakeholders, the church council approved our committee’s request that we move these classes to vacant spaces in our other buildings, beginning in October. This will allow us to see whether we can repurpose the Washington Avenue building and space without interfering with our regular worship, education, and mission activities. An anticipated benefit includes lower utility bills and budget savings. It also allows our committee to look at other parts of our campus so that we can generate an all-inclusive list of options to bring before the church council and – conference for discussion and decision.
Collectively, we are the current stewards of a church approaching its 200 th anniversary. In the past, this congregation has made bold decisions during times of ministerial transition. These included the decision to ordain women as deacons and to make major upgrades to the sanctuary. This congregation made those bold statements of faith so that potential candidates knew who it was and where it wanted to go. Talking about the future use of our entire church campus will involve “gentle yet clear” discussions, compassionate ears, the willingness to entertain bold ideas while also considering the numbers, and the courage to entertain and make hard decisions. But I am confident that this community of faith will draw on the inspiration of those who preceded us when it does so.
– Harold Tessendorf