As part of our building renovation proposal for First Central Bible Church, we developed a list of the frequently asked questions. Below is a letter we mailed to the congregation answering those questions. Click on the link to download a pdf copy of the letter. You can also download a pdf copy of the PowerPoint presentation and the brochure which gives more details about the project.
Q: What was the process that brought us to this point?
A: In January 2016, Pastor Mark recommended to the elders that we consider renovating our sanctuary for more effective ministry in the 21st Century. The Elders agreed and asked Dave Guilbert and the Trustees to put a plan together. The Trustees, in turn, suggested forming a small task group that would be representative of our ministries. The elders concurred and appointed Dave Guilbert (Staff & Trustees), Doug McVeigh (Elders & AV), Dave Krok (Youth & Worship), Kevin Kelly (Trustees), and Carol Wheeler (C.E. & Women’s Ministries). The task group was given the charge of bringing back a proposal that the congregation could vote on.
After meeting several times, the task group felt it wise to bring in a church consultant who specializes in church renovation projects. At the June 2016 semi-annual meeting, the congregation approved the expenditure of funds for this purpose. The consultant met with the team during summer 2016. In addition, Dave Guilbert consulted the City of Chicopee Building Inspector to see if there were other issues in our facility that needed to be addressed.
After receiving recommendations from the consultant and the building inspector, we realized the project needed to become a building renovation rather than merely a sanctuary renovation. The task group also consulted an architect and structural engineer. In addition, the team talked to chair manufacturers, flooring experts, painters, contractors, and other specialists who would be needed for the project.
Over the past 18 months, the team has put in countless man hours researching and talking through a myriad of options. They presented the proposal to the elders who approved it before it was presented to the congregation last week.
Q: What is the purpose of the Development Fund? Can it be used for renovation?
A: In 1995 we put a large addition on our building. Building loans were obtained to fund it. The Building Fund was created to pay off this loan. The mortgage was paid off mid-2001. By a unanimous vote at the 2002 annual meeting, the Building Fund was changed to the Development Fund. In 2012, the Development Fund budget was reduced and people were encouraged to give their tithes and offerings more toward the General Fund and Missions Fund and less toward the Development Fund. In 2013 the Development Fund was removed from the General Fund budget due to budget constraints. It has remained a separate fund set aside for the development of the church facility.
In reading through the annual reports from 2002 – 2016, the following language was found that helped clarify the purpose of the Development Fund. This statement is included in the brochure that was passed out at the proposal meeting.
“The Development Fund was created to ensure that we can meet the future facility and development needs of our growing congregation. It was previously used to raze the United Methodist Church and turn the property into additional parking, renovate our parking lot lighting, and upgrade our exterior cement steps. As we grow, we will continue to have new and varied facility needs. While the fund cannot be used for minor repairs or general maintenance, it can be used to renovate our building to make it more effective for ministry in the coming years.”
Q: What will our seating capacity be? How will it be different?
A: Our current seating capacity is 289 people (Main Floor 197; Balcony 92). Using the proposed church chairs, our seating capacity will be 278 people (Main Floor 186; Balcony 92). If we kept our pews, we would have to shorten them to meet ADA standards (Americans with Disabilities Act) such as wider aisles. The seating capacity with the modified pews would be 241 people (Main Floor 149; Balcony 92).
One reason our current pews are not comfortable is that they were designed for a previous century when people were shorter and smaller. The proposed new chairs come with a book rack for Bibles and hymnals, a communion cup holder, and a pocket for giving envelopes and prayer request cards. The chairs are interlocking in order to form a solid row.
Q: What will happen to the organ pipes, baptistery painting, baptistery, divider wall, and pews?
A: The painting will be hung in the hallway between Gail Grant’s and Jack Gilbert’s offices. Every effort will be made to repurpose the other items. We will donate or give away what we can. We have had some preliminary conversations regarding the pews and discovered that the New England market is saturated with pews. If we are unable to find another user, the items will be disposed of.
Q: What is the timeframe for construction? What happens to worship, Sunday School, and children’s ministries in the interim?
A: The proposed timeframe is that we would do some preliminary work during the winter. Construction would begin the Monday after Easter 2018 and we hope to be finished by fall 2018. Our worship services would be held in the gym during this period of time. The Elders, Christian Education Board, and staff would flesh out the details for our C.E. ministries. While we have had some initial conversations about what we could do, we wanted to wait until after the vote to make detailed plans rather than presume the outcome.
Q: When will the vote be taken? What percentage is required for approval? What if I can’t be at the meeting?
A: The vote will be taken on November 12 following the 11:00 worship service. Paper ballots will be distributed prior to the beginning of the meeting. It will be a simple “Yes” or “No” vote on the entire proposal.
The proposal will be decided by a simple majority. In researching our church constitution, there are only two places where a specific percentage vote is required: (1) a two‑thirds majority is needed to change the constitution; and (2) a three-fourths majority is required to call or dismiss a pastor. All other matters, such as electing officers or approving our annual budget, are decided by simple majority.
Absentee ballots will be available on November 5 in the back of the sanctuary or from the church office from November 6-10. We encourage all to attend the meeting.
If you have any questions, please contact Pastor Mark Wheeler (email@example.com), Doug McVeigh (DMcV01@aol.com), or Dave Guilbert (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks for praying.