Hello members and frequent visitors of Christ our Hope!
So our survey results are in, and I want to show them to you and give some interpretation.
There were multiple categories, but really we could boil it down to three categories: Support, Non-Support, and Undecided.
28 people returned their surveys by the deadline, which is a good sample size for what we are doing. The results were as follows
75% Support (21 support, with 4 showing reservations with their support)
18% Non-Support (5 non-support)
7%- Undecided– (2) but they did provide questions that would help with their decision
These results tell us many things:
A large majority of the parish at this point can be shown to support this decision by the Vestry, which is very important for the Vestry, and me, and the bishops.
There are legitimate concerns, which is natural for a process such as this one. Not everyone is privy to everything that has went on, and not every concern can possibly be addressed. But we do believe that in the 7 weeks of this process with this building, we have addressed some of the most basic and important concerns that must be considered in a transaction such as this. And we are going to give even more information now in this blog.
We see this as one of our last chances to address some concerns, before the final vote this next Sunday. There will be a chance then as well to ask some more questions, but the vote is upon us. The Vestry and your rector have worked hard to get you as much information as we could, and would still be glad to speak with anyone one on one through e-mail or phone.
But below are some answers for some of the questions that were presented to us:
1. Is there handicap accessibility?
The easy answer to this is yes. The facility is ADA compliant, even without any improvements. It has the needed entrance ramp, and the needed facilities. However, we would like to make ever more improvements in this area, and we hope to include this in part of our renovations.
2. What about the small size of the sanctuary?
This is a concern for the Vestry and the Building Committee as well. However, we do have plans to make the current sanctuary to hold at least 35% more people than we have on a regular Sunday attendance. Even when we have had large services, such as Easter or Christmas, we usually do not get above 100. And we believe we should be able to get more than this many chairs into the sanctuary.
That being said, we do believe the size of the sanctuary is still an issue, but we believe it is something that we have time to work on through the years. This is also the reason for our criterion of having a building and property that can be easily improved upon. We believe this is such a purchase. And even if we grow very quickly, we have thought of ways that we can fit into the building while we make improvements and build up the Sanctuary Fund.
If, however, we grow too fast, then we consider this in some way a blessing from God, and believe he will provide various ways for us to adjust and to minister the gospel that is bearing fruit in such a quick growth for our church.
We actually have a layout plan for the sanctuary, and an architect may provide some design possibilities along with the various other designs he is going to provide for the renovations. So, please keep this sanctuary fund in prayer, as it will be a focus and drive for our church in the years to come.
3. Will there be a fenced in playground for children?
The answer to this is: The plans are in the making. As of now, there are ideas to place an outside, fenced-in-playground near where we may move the nursery. This will provide the nursery near and easy access to the playground. This will have to be budgeted in, or possibly a future project we work on once we move into the building.
4. How will our ministry as a church really improve by this move?
The answer to this is that much will change by this move that will allow for improvement, focus, vision, and clear goals. And all of this will help free us up for more effective ministry to the community and for the kingdom of God.
Just think of all the benefits to moving to our own place:
- We will not have to put so much attention on a building search
- We can fit and improve our building and property to fit our needs and ministry aims
- Having our own land brings up so many opportunities (especially such a large and various piece of land as this):
- Farmer’s Market
- Community Garden
- Parish Cemetery
- Prayer Gardens and prayer walks spread out throughout the vast property.
- Bon-fires and community barbeque’s etc/
- We will be able to settle into a community and claim that community as ours, knowing, as a parish, we are here for a very long time, and until the Lord calls us elsewhere.
These basic changes truly should give us possibility of better and improved outreach and connection to the community once we have settled in and found our place. Not to mention how this whole process of finding, purchasing, and moving to a new building affords many opportunities to bond and grow together as a church.
Also, there actually are plans in the making, which will take some time to develop, to begin doing some ministry to our new area. So, please be in prayer for our future ministry and outreach, because much of the answers to our exact ministries will come in time as people step up to take part in what the Lord calls them to do, and as new people come to take part that have different gifts and callings.
I would be glad to speak with any of you at anytime to share some of the short-term and long-term plans for ministry. And in the next year, ministry and outreach development was going to be a focus– and this new building has acted as a catalyst to helping us find our place and mission as a church. But the truth is that in the end, we must minister as a body, and if we do not move together to serve the community and the church, then we will struggle to be effective. So it will us all contributing and working together.
5. Isn’t the location off the beaten path?
The location is not located in the middle of a business area, or right on the doorstep of a ministry opportunity such as being located across the street to Wright State.
But I believe there are two ways to look at this:
- It is only 3 minutes from Wright State, 5 minutes from Beavercreek business district, which is large, and 5 minutes from the city of Fairborn. So, really, in our day and age of vehicle transportation, this is not really off the beaten path, but actually right in the middle of a very developed area, but tucked in quietly in a nice neighborhood.
- Being in the middle of various neighborhoods, makes us a true parish church. Parish churches are often out of the middle of the hustle and bustle, especially suburban churches.
So, though it would be nice if we were possibly one or two minutes closer to a main road such as Col. Glenn, this really is a matter of perspective. Some people might consider it perfectly located for its purposes for ministry and being a parish neighborhood church. And there are many people that might like the quiet and serenity it brings. We will have to simply try harder to make ourselves visible to the community so that they will know we are there, even if they don’t always pass by our building in their daily commute.
6. Aren’t rolling hills less desirable than a flat piece of land?
The simple answer to this is: yes, (unless you might want to have a small cemetery on a hill).
If we are talking only about real estate, then rolling hills are not as valuable a piece of land as a flat lot.
They also could cause problems with irrigation (although this does not seem to be too much an issue here), and could cause some safety issues when people are walking or running on the rolling terrain.
However, remember that the only part of the land that has the rolling hills is only the middle acre or so of the property. There is at least 4 acres on the top of the rolling hills that have beautiful and flat land, that is ready to build something on right now.
Also, the parking should be nice and flat after it is completed; and the property the church building rests on has been made to sit comfortably on a flat piece of land above the rolling hills. So, we believe that most the property is ideal.
And as for the rolling hills, it is possible that with landscaping projects, excavation projects, and maybe even development projects, that we can actually make this land more level or more usable, and this will eliminate some of the negatives to the rolling hills.
7. What about the current occupancy limit, and how will this effect us?
The occupancy limit in the sanctuary is undiscerned currently, but we have spoken with two architects concerning this, and they have told us what the occupancy likely is, and how to discern it through records and our own description of our situation of worship. We actually have some role in shaping the occupancy based on how we are using the building.
We are estimating that the occupancy will be between 100-120. We might only use between 80-100 chairs each week, but can add possibly up to 120 for certain occasions.
Now, let us think about our current size as a church so we can get a better picture. Our Sunday morning attendance is about 62 on average. If we add the 10 that come for Saturday services, we have an average weekly attendance of 72.
So, on Sunday mornings, if we continue to have 62 or so people show up each week, we will have plenty of space and empty chairs. Then, if we add 30-40 people in the first 2 years, we will have to use the maxium capacity, but we would still technically fit. By then, we might be able to start building up toward a Sanctuary Fund at a quicker pace, since we would have grown nearly 50%! We would still fit, and there are things that could be done, such as two morning services, or expanding the sanctuary if needed. The truth is, this is unlikely to happen so quickly, so we have reason to believe we will fit in this sanctuary for years to come. And if does, we welcome the Lord sending people to us at his timing and pace.
One more point is important here: the building we are currently in is simply too big for us. More than 40% of the chairs are empty on Sunday morning, and much of the parking lot is as well. We could almost double are Sunday attendance and still fit into the current building. So, really we are moving to something that actually fits us. In the new building the chairs might be 65% full and the parking lot fairly packed, but there is still room for growth, and the building and property give way for vast improvements and expansion.
8. Why are we moving to an area where not many of our parishioners live?
There are many ways to answer this, from church statistics, our own history, and our current situation.
To begin with, most of our parishioners do not live very near to our current building, with none of them really within walking distance. It is true there is a continent that lives not far away in Forest Ridge, but once we move, there will be a contingent that will live not far away in Fairborn. And also, the Forest Ridge people will still drive below the average drive for most parishioners as they will be driving around 12 minutes. So we actually consider this location of the new building still fairly close for most our people.
Our church is actually very normal when it comes to modern day churches and how the people are spread out. After this move, most our parish will drive between 5-20 minutes, and then a few families will drive between 20-30, with only one family going above the 30 minute mark. These statistics are quite common for our time. So, in modern church terms, our members will be a relatively close distance to the parish.
But, and this is very important, we believe because of the location of the new building, that many new people might come from around the surrounding neighborhoods, and this would actually make a parish with people who are very nearby, possibly within walking distance or close bicycling.
And finally, if any of our current members would ever be interested in either retiring near their church, or simply moving to be near their church, we believe this location provides many ample opportunities.
We are not excited about the location being 10 minutes away from our current location, but believe this is adequate and understandable for a building search and relocation, because church building/property is hard to find.
9. What about our current work with the Riverside community, especially Hope4Riverside?
First, we want to encourage anyone who is still part of the Riverside community to support the drives for Hope4Riverside and to support your community.
Secondly, because so many of our members are involved with the mentorship program, we would be glad to continue to support it through advertisement and possibly even financial support, if so decided.
Thirdly, we believe every school district and community needs help and the gospel. We are glad Christ our Hope was able to contribute to Riverside for these many years, but we look forward to finding new ways to minister to our new communities of Fairborn, Bath Township, and Beavercreek. And we hope for the people of the parish to participate however possible, and according to their callings and gifts.
10. Why are we moving now?
The reasons here are many.
- Upon deep and wise research, we have come to believe we have found what we have been looking for and praying for, so why not now? Should we ignore what God might be providing?
- The longer we stay the more we pay on rent, and the less we save for a sanctuary. So, staying is not neutral, but actually costs us and needs to be explained also.
- We have the finances we need to make this purchase and move. Being that our finances are in investments, there is nothing guaranteeing we will have these finances in the future.
- We cannot settle into a place or use a building as we need until we own our own place. We will always be in transition. This stunts are ability to minister, which can improve upon being planted securely in a community (See question #4 above)
- Another church is interested in this property, so we couldn’t simply sit on it, and the time to act was immanent.
I also would say that the question has one big assumption that I think must be considered. The assumption behind the question is: That we are currently in a great situation, so why would we want to move now? But, as our presentation showed a few weeks ago, we do not assess that our current situation is ideal, and we are hoping to move out of it eventually, if not as soon as we can find a good place that fits us. And we believe we have!
11. What about upkeep and maintenance of the new church?
This is a great question, as it will surely be an added expense since one benefit of renting is having lower maintenance and upkeep expenses. But remember, that we will be saving so much in rent and property taxes (well over $30,000 a year) that much of this will be more than mitigated.
Also, I believe having a building to upkeep, and a land to caretake can bring us closer as a parish. It offers yet another opportunity for some people to serve the church, or for the church to support local or parish owned businesses that help us in the upkeep and landscape. All of this works to build a strong community, and I think it will be worth any added expenses for upkeep, expenses that would be the case for any move to an owned building.
12.When will we move?
Because of the coming winter, and the possible renovations, and the demands of the Lent and Easter, it is likely we will not move until after Easter and likely May or June. This should give us ample time to continue to develop our administration, planning, and ministries. Part of this will be developing teams such as interior design team, moving team, and ministry planning team.
13. Could this move effect the unity of the church?
Of course it could, if we let it. A church move is actually a profound thing for a community to go through, and there is much opportunity for hurt, strife, or even a split. Churches have split for minor and even trite things, so we certainly understand the risks.
But, we believe the move actually offers opportunity for us to strengthen in our unity, to find how we fit together as a team, and to grow together in our vision for ministry and outreach. The truth is, if we cannot survive a move, then how close were we as a church to begin with? Because of this real possibility of division, we should be extra diligent to avoid the things that bring such divisions. We must strive for unity, and show our support for one another, and how dedicated we are to being a church together.
The good news is: we are in control of this, and can choose to remain together and to love one another, even if there are disagreements or tensions.
But I think it is important to understand that there is already a strong unity for this move. As shown in the survey above, it can be shown that all parties are in support of this move: Both bishops, the rector, the Vestry (unanimously), and now the Parish through this survey is showing a 75% support, which is a consent in any important voting format.
So as of now, there is no reason to believe there is any division forming or a cause for a split. Everything has been done appropriately, information has been given, and the vote is an opportunity for the parish to give their final voice.
If after everything happens, the parish decides to consent, and we move on with this purchase, it is up to all of us to strive for unity, and to support not only the leadership, but the parish who has together made this decision.
And for the people that do not support, 5 vocal as of now, I can only hope. that if the vote does go for supporting the purchasing of the building, you would continue on with us in the move and that you will come to rejoice in this move with the rest of us in what the Lord has given to us.
Because in the end, that is what we are seeking: the Lord’s will. Isn’t it wise to believe that if there is strong support on all sides that this is the Lord’s leading? And I believe everything as of now is pointing to this. The last step in all of this process is your vote this Sunday to support or not support the purchase.
I hope you feel many of your concerns have been addressed, and that you have had adequate opportunity to get the information you need to support your leadership’s desire to purchase this building.
We have shown you the building, explained the process in detail, given various presentations of the building search, the criteria, the ministry opportunities, the financial details, and the various decisions at various stages of this process. In this last 10 days leading up to this vote, we have provided a survey with an opportunity to ask your main questions and concerns; we sent an e-mail to further clarify the details; we have personally responded to various e-mails or phone calls with questions; and now we are responding to various questions from the survey. This Sunday, the Vestry will be available at the meeting before the vote, and you will again have the opportunity to voice any final concerns before the vote.
May the Lord guide us in his way.
Sincerely and in Christ,