The church roof has been redeemed and renewed! After nine months of insurance adjustors, tarps, planning, price increases, and work delays, the roof has been re-insulated and re-shingled. We should have a dry and well-insulated church building going forward. Praise God!
As we were analyzing our building for the roof project, the property committee began talking about part of the Accessibility Project that the church has been discussing over the past few years. The simplest and easiest part of the wider project is to move the pastor’s study to the original sacristy (what we now use as our “counting room”) and move the church office from its current location in the narthex to the last two classrooms in the hallway by opening-up the wall between the two and creating a larger conference room/church office there. This move will allow us to open-up more fellowship space in the narthex for coffee, cookies, and conversation after worship and, just as importantly, give us space to put in an adequate ramp for wheelchairs, walkers, etc. from the narthex level of the church into the sanctuary. The short ramp into the sanctuary that we currently use is dangerously steep, difficult to navigate, and severely troubling for those who have trouble getting up the final two stairs from the narthex into our sanctuary. Removing the wall and opening-up the space where our church office and Pastor’s study currently are will give us a substantial amount of new space for fellowship after worship on Sunday mornings and give us enough space to build a far better ramp along two walls of the narthex into the sanctuary.
Since this is a significant change to our church property, our congregation’s constitution requires a congregational vote to proceed. We are planning to have an in-person meeting, discussion, and vote on whether or not to proceed with moving the offices on Reformation Sunday, October 31st after worship. No other business will be discussed, and we are planning to have a potluck meal in the fellowship hall following the meeting – the first meal we have shared together since the pandemic began.
There are some questions that have come up already in discussions about this project that I will answer ahead of time. First, is this a new idea for the Accessibility Project than what we have already discussed up to this point? No. We had always planned to move our church offices in order to allow for an adequately accessible ramp into the sanctuary, we are simply proposing that Faith Lutheran move ahead with this part of the project sooner rather than later. Second, is this a vote to add on to the church? No. We are only moving the offices and opening-up the space that already exists in our narthex. Third, where will Sunday School classes meet? Unfortunately, we have struggled to attract students and families to attend Sunday School classes the same as when they were built (almost 50 years ago!), but we have found that the fellowship hall is great for Christian education classes using a one room school-house model of learning which is more appropriate to our current numbers. For instance, we are using the basement for our 3F – Faith, Family, and Fellowship classes on Tuesday evenings and have already found that the space suits our time well. Fourth, how much will this move cost? Since we are not building anything, only renovating existing space, we estimate that the costs for this move will be between $3,000 and $5,000, and we expect to do a lot of the work utilizing volunteer labor. Gratefully, we have already had members and friends donate generous amounts to our building fund and we have more than enough money on hand to cover this project so we will not need to raise any more funds for this part of the Accessibility Project. Lastly, will we need to replace the roof again if we decide to proceed with the rest of our Accessibility Addition at a later date? No. The roof portion we just replaced will stay the same if we vote to proceed with a building addition down the road.
You can find the floor plan for the proposed changes to the church on the back side of this page. If you have questions, comments, or concerns before the meeting, please reach out to Pastor Seth directly at (406) 546-7323 or Gordon Granley at (406) 261-5418. Additionally, we understand that some members may be interested in participating in the discussion and vote but do not yet feel comfortable attending in-person. We are planning to hold this meeting fully in-person and will not be hosting a hybrid online/in-person meeting like we did in January. In order to vote, members must attend in-person, but we will share written comments at the meeting from members who do not feel comfortable attending in-person so that their support or critiques of the proposed move will be included in the discussion. Those comments can be submitted directly to the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to working with you all as we discern how to move forward with this stage of the project!