No easy answers for Living Within our Means

As part of our Future Search 2024, we’ve been researching four potential paths, leading up to our upcoming congregational working session on April 20. At the end of March, we shared an update on the path called Merge, Sell, Partner, or Rent Space to/from Another Church(es). This week, we’ll share a bit on the path, Live Within Our Means.

You may recall this path is about finding ways to address potential current/future expenses, mostly related to our education wing. This would reduce the financial risks that might prevent us from operating as a church in the long term. We’ll share more detail on this in our meeting, but to lead with the headline: there aren’t any easy answers in this area. An FHC task force met with a contractor to scope out tearing down the education wing, and learned those costs were likely greater than the cost of just fixing the issues with the wing. The contractor’s recommendation: an education wing teardown just wouldn’t make sense.

We’ve also investigated selling a portion of the parking lot to fund investment in the building, but this is challenging due to the storm sewer under the property that would require remediation (and therefore, more investment than we would gain in selling it). The city is pursuing some possible ways to reduce/eliminate those costs for us, but this will be a long-term process.

Long story short: Preserving the education wing for the long term requires investment of around $375,000, both in the roof and the clerestory windows to keep the water out (i.e. “sealing the envelope”). Then additional investment on top of that would be necessary to make that part of the building ready to meet our modern needs, e.g. HVAC and electricity.

Ultimately, going down the path of “Living Within Our Means” will require FHC to raise funds to address these needs–perhaps via a capital campaign, or a loan, or a combination of the two. But there isn’t a feasible way to avoid some investment in this area in a long term. The bigger question: What mission/vision might we want to pursue that would offer a framework and motivation for the congregation to invest in this space?

–Bryan Seyfarth, moderator