GRACE NEWS Special Edition – May 2011

Approximately 75 people attended the “Options for the Future” informational meeting held on April 12. At the meeting, consultants from Bexson Construction provided some preliminary design ideas for two new church options –a “new site” option and an “existing site” option incorporating the current sanctuary. An information package has been widely distributed that summarizes three variations for the “current site” option and cost information for a “new site” option. Paper copies are available from the church office. If you would like a digital copy of this information, please send an email request to graceunited.news@gmail.com or call the church office at 780 875-8959.

Coming to a Consensus

Choosing the “right option” is important but doing so in the “right way” is just as important! For this reason, Central Board and the Options for the Future Committee want to make certain that whatever we decide about our church facility, it leaves our congregation “united” and excited about the future. We want to make sure that all options are fully explored and everyone has had an opportunity to “hear and be heard”. As such, Central Board is planning several initiatives in the next couple of months.
These initiatives are being planned and timed in the hope that an “option” can be decided upon before the end of June.
Once an option is agreed upon, fund raising can begin. When it is clear that the preferred option is financially viable, then we can move ahead with formal approvals and detailed planning.

What Initiatives?

1. This special newsletter will provide every individual and family with basic information on each of the options. Information about the “existing site” option is not being repeated in this newsletter because it is available elsewhere (see above). But more detailed costing is being provided in this newsletter concerning the “new site option”. Information and discussion about a “renovation option” is also included.
2. Sunday-after-Worship “coffee” discussions are being planned for May 29 and June 5 in the Upper Hall to allow more discussion on the options and the many related issues. (See below)
3. A “coffee and discussion” session is planned for Thursday May 26th at 7:30 p.m. This is a special opportunity for those who are new to the Grace family or who are “new” to the issues and options and who would like to know more about how we have gotten to this point in our history. (See below)
4. An “every family” telephone consultation is being planned for early-to-mid June. These conversations are intended to seek feedback, answer questions, clarify misunderstanding and determine the degree of support and enthusiasm for each of the three options. (See below)
5. Assuming that a clear “option preference” emerges through the consultation process, arrangements will be made for a congregational meeting following the service on Sunday, June 26. The congregation will be asked to express formal support for the preferred option identified.
6. Once a preferred option is chosen, the Fund Raising and Stewardship Committees can begin to plan how we will make this investment in our future.
7. When it is clear that financial support is not in doubt, formal approvals will be sought from the courts of the United Church of Canada and detailed planning can begin.

“After-Church” Discussion of Options
After worship on Sunday, May 29 and again on June 5 during “coffee” in the Upper Hall, five discussion “stations” are being organized at which people can learn more about the “options” and related issues. More importantly, you will be able to raise questions and share your views with others. Questions raised and comments made during these “station” discussions will be recorded and shared with the wider congregation.
The five discussion “stations” will be:
➢ The mission of our church congregation.
➢ Financial information and issues related to the options.
➢ A discussion of the renovation option.
➢ A new church on the current site, using the current sanctuary.
➢ Building a new church on a new site.
Please plan to get involved in these important discussions on the future of our church.

May 26 - “New to the Issues” Coffee and Discussion Evening

Some of our church family members, while not continuously involved in the life of our church, are most willing to assist with special events and fundraising events such as the Fair Booth, Garage Sale, Salad Smorg and the Time and Talent Auction.
Others in our “family”, while only worshipping with us on special church celebrations are, nonetheless, very interested in and supportive of Grace United.
And there are yet others in our family, while raised in the United Church tradition, are not currently active in our church.
If any of the above describes your relationship to your Grace family, you are especially invited to come to this evening event to learn more about the “options for the future” of your church.
It will be held in the Upper Hall on Thursday May 26th at 7:30 p.m. and is intended only for those in the “Grace” family who are new to the facility issues of the church.
The views and opinions of all of our church family members are desired and valued as we look to the future. Please plan to attend.

“Every Family” Telephone Consultation

Central Board has accepted the suggestion that the best way to ensure that each person has had an opportunity to express his/her view on the future of our church is to ask them for it! So after the above described information-sharing and discussion events have taken place, every effort will be made to contact everyone in the Grace family by phone to learn which of the options is favored and to see if there is a consensus option that most can support. If so, the congregation will be asked to endorse the “consensus plan” on Sunday, June 26. Once the congregation has made its decision, formal approvals can be sought and detailed planning can begin!
We will need about 20 people to assist with the phoning project. If you are familiar with the options and would be comfortable answering questions that people might ask of you, please contact the church office by phone or email before May 20. Your assistance would be appreciated.


The Options

Questions and comments following the April 12 meeting suggest that people would like to see more information made available to everyone in the “Grace family”. The following information and discussion is intended to inform, not to shift opinion toward or away from any option.
While factual information is important, subjective issues and considerations that cannot easily be measured in monetary terms are at least as important. These include but are not limited to the following:
➢ Relationship of church mission and geographic location.
➢ What is our “time horizon”? Ten years, 30 years or more?
➢ How important is the issue of parking?
➢ How important is having “single-purpose” space vs. multi-use space?
➢ Sanctuary design and worship style.

The New Site Option

The cost-estimates provided by our consultants for the “new site” option were higher than many expected. At our request, Justin Young of Bexson Construction has provided the following additional cost information.
Included in the April 12 estimates are these “site costs”.
Site clearing and preparation $45,000
Shape Yard $22,000
Approach Aprons $8,000
Caste in place curbs and gutters $15,000
Natural Gas (rough est.) $13,000
Electrical service (rough est.) $35,000
Water and sewer (from property) $15,000
Storm sewer system $70,000
Paving $220,000
Fencing and landscaping $20,000
Misc surveying, engineering etc. $15,000
Total of above $478,000

The above figures are based on similar-sized projects that Bexson Construction has done. The new building costs provided on Aril 12 were based on actual church construction cost experience provided to our consultants by a Saskatoon architect. These figures did not include any allowance for interior furnishings or equipment except for a commercial grade kitchen.
Discussion: Building on a new site would eliminate any design constraints imposed by incorporating the existing sanctuary and the size and shape of the current property. There would be no need to seek alternate worship and administrative accommodation during construction. Provision could be made for any desired number of parking stalls.
The issue of what to do with the current church property should the congregation move to another site can be viewed as a major problem or a valued asset depending on one’s viewpoint. It appears that we will be making our decision without knowing which it is.
Current assumptions about the size and cost of a “new site” option are based on some multi-use space (sanctuary and hall for example).

The “Current Site” Option

Much of the information contained in the handout (referred to earlier) outlines three design variations for a new church on the current site. This information will not be repeated here except to clarify that the cost information included A/C and lighting upgrades for the sanctuary and $40,000 for repair to the existing brick exterior and windows (including the east-facing window in the mezzanine).

Discussion:
This option retains the current “downtown” tradition and utilizes the current sanctuary. One variation involves a single-storey structure (necessitating multi-use of some space) while two other variants involve second-storey space to permit single-use space for current needs.
Incorporating the existing sanctuary into the “current site” option accounts for a major part of the lower cost of this option. The other major cost saving involves land-servicing costs (see new site option).
Renting space (10 spaces in the Streetscapes lot) and the additional on-street parking on the west side of the 50th Street (between 46 and 47 Street) has eased congestion but does not provide sufficient parking when the church is full to capacity. Securing additional property west of the current church for use as additional parking has not been successful to date. Available parking on the existing property would be reduced from six to three spaces by this option.

The “Renovation” Option

Personnel from Bexson Construction and their mechanical systems consultants have become familiar with our current structure and its mechanical systems as they prepared design variations and cost estimates for the “existing site” option. They also provided information to the “Options Committee” a year ago regarding the cost of possible renovations.
“Even if a small renovation is completed, the code states that the remaining portion of the facility has to be upgraded” (to the current building code requirements). “This includes fire alarms, handicap accessibility and building exits etc.” …” If you are renovating, it is highly advised to upgrade the mechanical and electrical services.” Quotes taken from email correspondence with Justin Young, P. Eng. Bexson Construction.
Recommended renovations included:
A new roof to the Upper Hall and office areas. $120,000
Window replacements on Upper Hall and west wall of office area. $10,000
Door replacement on west wall facing back lane. $4,000
Insulation and cladding on north and west walls of existing structure. $75,000
Mechanical upgrade including A/C for existing building. $116,000
Fire protection, including upgraded water service, and alarm system. $102,500
Complete basement renovation including new washrooms. $200,000
New kitchen addition including new equipment. $275,000
New east window above the mezzanine $10,000
Sound and media system allowance $70,000
Sanctuary redecorating and minor upgrades $100,000
Total for above renovation work $1,082,000

Weighing the cost savings of this option against the functional limitations of the current “non-sanctuary” facility is at the very heart of our “Options for the Future” dilemma.

Can We Afford a New Church?

Every member of the Grace United Church family will play a role in determining the future of our church building and thus the future mission of our church. By becoming aware of the options available and voicing your opinion on which direction you feel should be chosen, you will help us come to a consensus on which way to proceed.
What option we choose to proceed with will also be determined by the financial commitment made by each and every one of us.
Grace United Church has recently become the recipient of two bequests. The bequest left by the Estate of Carol Eggan is a designated bequest for stained glass windows. A large undesignated bequest has been left to Grace United Church by the Estate of David Jones. At present a policy is being drawn up to govern how we deal with such bequests. Although, some of it will be put toward financing the building project, some of it may be spent on funding specific programs (i.e. Youth Ministry) or certain Mission & Service projects of the church.
It is the time to seriously consider how you can become part of the future of our church, which we are so proud of. Some may consider to set aside an amount monthly from a pay cheque or investment, others may think of some fundraising projects they will look after, others may wish to pledge a yearly or one time amount. Whatever you are capable financially of giving to this project, it is important and will make a difference. We all have the opportunity to feel very proud to be contributing to the future of our church home – Grace United Church.

Building a Church Builds a Church

We can all think of truly rewarding events, projects or initiatives that we’ve worked on in years past. United Church congregations are filled with unselfish and community-minded people. But it has been over two generations since Grace United people have had the opportunity to work together on a major project. We have an aging building with important limitations. While we may differ on what should be done to improve the structure, no one is suggesting that nothing needs to be done.
Regardless of the option chosen, we have an opportunity to use this project to open up our congregation to engage and involve more individuals and families who want to make the “New Grace United” their church home and church family.
There will be literally hundreds of decisions to be made, regardless of the option chosen. And we have hundreds of people in our church with interest and expertise in everything from building design to energy efficiency to electronics to decorating. Failing to capitalize on this opportunity to build involvement and fellowship would be a tragedy.

. Notice - On May 15 the Choir is leading the Worship Service. And during the service, the choir will honor Gladys Jack for over 55 years in Grace Choir. We invite everyone to bring a friend or neighbor for this special service of music.


Have you given Grace Church your email address?

Approximately 120 individuals and families are receiving the email copy only of this "special edition" newsletter thus saving work, paper costs and approximately $70 in postage. If you received a "paper copy" of this newsletter it is because we do not have your email address at Grace. If you do not mind getting your newsletter via email, please make that request to graceunited.news@gmail.com