What does it feel like to be new at First Church? From a study done in 1999, a survey taken by me over my years here, a survey taken by the Facilities Planning Team in 2017, by discussion in a Welcome Team meeting in 2018, and from a study done by Randy Sater from StoneBridge in 2020, we have a good idea. And many of you are newer and remember your arrival here, so you might relate to this consideration very personally.
It’s both inspiring and challenging. The inspiring part is that new people consistently become excited by our values, by our worship, by our message, by our music, by our ministries with and alongside the hurting, and by this Methodist style spirituality. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had my heart warmed by people giving their perspective on this ministry as newcomers with new eyes.
The challenging part is almost all physical stuff. We hear from people that they don’t see the beauty of the church expressed in its appearance, that they can’t find their way to or from the parking lots, or can’t find their way around the facility once they get inside. That bathroom accessibility matters to many. That the some of our upstairs facilities or stairways look dingy and dilapidated.
Those inputs are the reason the Trustees many years ago began to develop a long-term project list. And why the Facilities Planning Steering Committee (FPSC) have looked for funding to improve address these concerns. Toward that end we raised $500,000 beyond our COVID-strained budget last year to begin the Sanctuary repairs. We’ve considered possible selling of portions of our parking lot, or of selling a duplex the church owns for other work on what we now call the Welcome Projects list.
How far along are we? Well, the Sanctuary repairs are set to begin soon, funding is being discussed right now at the Bishop’s office, and we are firmly on the path of designing solutions to many of these issues.
Ultimately, the purpose of any of these projects is just this: Welcome. To open doors and say “Yes, we’ll do all we can to nourish your Yes to God and to a life of living out the love of God”.
Because? Because we’re Love First.
Bless you each