News for the Church, 4/16/21

Good Morning Church,

It’s a wet, rainy day out there– just what spring needs to grow the green in the grass and the yellow in the daffodils! I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to stop in at the church lately, but the daffies and the blooming forsythia bushes are breathtaking. It’s definitely worth stopping by to walk the grounds. 

This week I have one major topic to discuss with you– the heating system in the Center.

Center heating renovation

The day has come for us to acknowledge what’s before us and to take action. 

The Community Center’s heating system was installed back in 1969 (something a number of you might remember) and it has served the church well for these last 50+ years. Until the recent past, that is. The last handful of years the heat has continued to serve, but it has not done so willingly. This is something that Ron has continually had to deal with on an emergency basis in winter, with each subsequent year finding the problems harder and more frequently needing fixing. The zones that were installed all those decades ago no longer function, the fin tubing and circulator pump for the office area are insufficient at their job, and other problems exist because of the layout of the space. This is why it’s often freezing cold in both the office area and Trillium’s rooms and can be uncomfortably cold in the Center itself. Because no one likes to be cold, short-term, band-aid solutions have been applied for years– mostly with electric heaters, which have contributed to increased electric bills. 

Last year we got estimates to take care of the problems correctly, and decided that Merkley Brothers offered a fair and reasonable estimate. The work is going to cost $17,000 however, and so we applied for a grant last fall, hoping to find financial resources from outside of our congregation. Unfortunately for us, however, we were not selected to receive the funding. Not wanting to be deterred by this, I have continued to look into identifying other possible grant opportunities, but I’ve come up short at every turn. No one offers grants to cover heating systems. They’re just not “sexy” enough for donors to want to contribute to. 

Now, $17,000– that is a serious chunk of change– especially for a congregation that is not living in a sustainable financial situation. Session has felt the weight of the rub of this for the last 12 months, but has finally come to terms with the fact that every year longer that we wait to take care of the problem, the worse things get. So the decision was made this last month to move forward with the project. It’s time to fix the problem that’s been put off for so long. 

Cynthia Coleman has indicated that there is $8,000 available to use on the project from the Shaw Fund– the building maintenance fund set up for projects such as these. That will be a huge help, but it still leaves us with another $9,000 to cover. We can take this money out of our assets– which we will do to the extent that we need to– but drawing down our principle is not a great solution. So… I am here once again to ask you to prayerfully consider making an extra donation to the church this year to offset the expense. 

You and I both know that we can’t continue to dig into our pockets every single year for major, costly repair projects. This is a frustrating underlayer related to the unsustainable nature of our current financial problem. But for now, we can’t “abandon ship” either, can we? Perhaps the day will come that we decide together as a congregation that we are not able to sustain this giant, old (beautiful) building. If and when that day comes, we will have spent a lot of time talking through the options, and we will make that jump together. But in the meantime, we need to honor the life before us– and— the building we both love and call home. I know that not all of us can afford to make an extra gift, and we need to honor that reality. But also, some of us can. Will you consider giving $100? 

Donating extra money to fix a failing heating system is not my favorite way to spend my hard-earned money, but I too will be pulling out my checkbook to make a donation. Will you pray about it, and consider joining me? 

Other facility needs

As a way of preparing your hearts and minds for the future, I should be up front and let you know that there is other substantial work that needs to be done to the building in the future as well. The soffiting on the sanctuary is beginning to rot, the roof as a whole still needs attention, there is water in the basement, and the T1-11 siding on the outside of the Center is beginning to disintegrate– to name a few of the big things. Some of these jobs can be put off (as they have been), but at some point, “the bill is going to come due,” as it were. My hope, as I look at the balance of our assets– holding that in tension with the life of our congregation and the call that God still has for us– is to continue to seek out grants to pay (or, at least help pay) for some of these major projects. We learned a lot from our first attempt at the Rock Charitable grant, and I feel confident that we have a solid shot of being selected for some of this work in the future. 

When we come back to the building in May, my hope is that once a month we can begin to gather together as a congregation to have town hall meetings to talk about where we’re at in life– spiritually, psychologically, financially, and physically. We are “alive and kicking” as a church family, but life is sweeping change up to our doorstep, and we’re going to have to pray, to talk, to debate, and to wonder together about where God is leading. 

I hope that you will choose to be part of this moment of transformation of our church. It’s going to take all of us coming together to make the Big Shift before us possible (whatever it ends up being). I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God can carry us through–that God will carry us through– if we are faithful to the call.

A new life: Lara Godoi

In other exciting (positive) news– Feryal Qudourah and Gui Gudoi– our music leaders throughout most of the pandemic, who are no longer with us because of recently moving to South Carolina– have had their second child. Lara Godoi came into the world this last Wednesday with a full head of hair, and will be joining her older sister Leila in singing and dancing to their parents’ music soon enough. Welcome baby Lara, and congratulations to you both, Feryal and Gui! 

Please also continue to be in prayer for Vernice Church, who is now home from the hospital after a recent experience with blood clots. She is recovering well, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine. (Cards are also appreciated!)

Dear hearts, the thing about life is that it’s constantly moving, shifting, and changing. Children are born and people pass away every day. Towns, trees, businesses, ideas, institutions, empires, stars, even galaxies — they come and they go. Nothing in this life is ever static. That’s how God built this universe that we call home. 

That said, people do not often enjoy the dynamic nature of life. Even though we live in a universe surrounded by it, we don’t like change! And because of this, much of our way of life is built around attempting to keep things “the same” as long as possible. But what would happen, if instead of fighting change, we embraced it? What if, instead of putting our energy towards keeping things the same, we shifted our attention to focus on finding “what works?” What if we chose to work with God’s ways of doing things, instead of our own? 

In his letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul talks about holding onto joy, even in the changing world that the believers there were living in:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

~Phillipians 4:6-8 

God’s peace and joy are to be had in this ever-changing landscape of life, and I hope that we, as a congregation, can find that sweet spot as we venture into our future. 

In prayer,
Pastor Katrina