The event was part of the capital campaign, supposedly an opportunity to hear about the campaign and to comment on it. Apparently other gatherings have been held with select parishioners. I was not selected. My guess is that this event was designed for people like me who were not invited to private meetings but still might be interested in what is being planned. (No one has explained this, so I may be completely wrong.)
A tri-fold brochure was distributed, whose cover can be seen at the left. The entire brochure can be seen here. The brochure doesn’t offer much more than parishioners have been told so far, but Lou’s presentation did give more details.
The official kickoff event for the capital campaign will be October 15, though some people will be solicited for big contributions before then. The celebration for the completion of the campaign will be December 4. Pledges will be sought in parallel with the annual stewardship campaign, though Lou said that the stewardship campaign comes first—no one should reduce a pledge to the stewardship campaign to contribute to the capital campaign. Pledges to the capital campaign will generally be fulfilled over a three-year period.
In the question-and-answer period, air conditioning the church again proved controversial. I asked if the job could really be done for $200,000 and was told yes, that cool air would be piped up through the floor. Some people argued that air conditioning is not needed. Lou, however, said that he thought air conditioning was the most important part of the campaign, that younger people expect a church to be air conditioned. Having church attendance go down in the summer is not a good thing, he added. I’m not sure that air conditioning will keep up attendance in the summer—people do go on vacation—but, basically, I think Lou is right.
I said that parishioners should be given a list of what the $250,000 Property Maintenance Fund was intended to finance. Lou tried to duck this one, saying that unforeseen maintenance needs could not be predicted. I argued that much of what is in the campaign is deferred maintenance that should be funded in our annual budget. I asked when we will begin doing that, and was told that we simply have not had the money in recent years, but we will try to budget adequately for maintenance sometime in the future. What I didn’t say is that if we haven’t had sufficient funds to maintain our physical plant, we should have found the money elsewhere in the budget. If I’m not mistaken, St. Paul’s has a smaller congregation and a larger staff than it has ever had in the nearly quarter century I’ve been at St. Paul’s.
Several comments were made about the $50,000 overhead of the campaign. Lisa Brown said she has been impressed with the woman from the Episcopal Church Foundation who has been working with the church. (ECF gets $30,000 for its assistance.) $6,000 is allocated to “miscellaneous expenses,” including postage and celebrations. Also included in the overhead is $14,000 for the feasibility study done last year. This is confusing to me, as that money was taken out of the Property Fund. If this money is being put back in the property fund, it is funding another $14,000 in maintenance. This needs to be clarified.
I want to mention a couple of specific projects. Lou, for the first time in my memory, suggested that an automatic door opener would be installed on the handicapped restroom. I first identified a problem with the handicapped restroom door more than a year ago. I hope we do put an automatic door opener on the facility, but I would like to see this commitment in black and white.
Finally, I asked about the plan to achieve handicapped access in the front of the church by eliminating the front steps. I said that parishioners need to see an elevation of what this will look like before we approve the plan. I also suggested that the diocese needs to approve the changes, according to Canon XXXI, Section 2:
It shall be the duty of every Parish of the Diocese to lay before this Commission [on Church Architecture] the preliminary sketches of any new Church, Chapel, parish house or rectory, or of proposed changes of importance in any such existent buildings, and no such work of erection or changes shall be undertaken until the plans shall have received the approval of the Commission. The counsel and advice of the Commission shall be given in writing to the parish requesting the same within one calendar month after the receipt of the plans by the said Commission.Curiously, Lou, who serves with me on the Committee on Constitution and Canons, did not seem aware of this provision.