Sanctuary Renewal Update

Greetings Fourth Church,

I am writing to you today with our promised update about preparing the Fourth Church campus for the next generations. In this communication, you will find the plan for debt elimination and Sanctuary Renewal, a proposed timeline, and ways for you to be involved.

We are blessed to have a tremendous facility. Our 2008 education wing addition fulfilled many of our expanded ministry needs. However, we have not addressed our worship space since the 1970 expansion and it is showing its age.

The current Sanctuary Renewal initiative grew out of our need to address the old and inefficient HVAC system (which controls temperature and air flow). As we worked through the design phase, we realized this one project (installing a new HVAC system) impinged upon many other design decisions (lighting, Narthex and Chancel changes, accessibility needs), while also requiring a longer timeline than originally expected. At the 2020 Congregational Meeting, we proposed a campus renewal project to be brought to the congregation in June 2020. However, the pandemic changed all thoughts of moving forward with a building project, and Session decided to put everything on hold.

Now, with the blessing of your generous giving that exceeded our 2020 budget, and the country moving toward more normalcy, Session felt it was time to resume the project. The architects have been reengaged and begun plans for our project. The scope of the renovation project will be the Sanctuary, Narthex (back entry vestibule), and surrounding common areas. Along with addressing the HVAC, we will update the Chancel (front pulpit area and choir loft), refinish the pews, upgrade the windows, improve the lighting, change the flooring, add appropriate architectural elements, and repaint. We are also looking at ways to improve accessibility for the Narthex and to enhance the overall welcome the space provides, especially for visitors. Lastly, we want to improve the bathrooms that serve the Sanctuary.

As appealing as these plans sound, it is vital that we accomplish them without leaving a debt for the next generation. Therefore, our Sanctuary renewal campaign includes the elimination of the existing debt (currently $2.2 million) in addition to funding the Sanctuary update. For that reason, and in part due to the changing work environment in which we now find ourselves, our current plan does not include reworking staff office spaces.

In order to accomplish the Sanctuary renovation, we will need to vacate the Sanctuary for approximately six months. We believe the best schedule to be out of the Sanctuary is between Easter and Advent. Thus, our plan is to have work begin April 2022. Once we can no longer use the Sanctuary, we will move to the Upper Room for worship services (for which the pandemic has prepared us). Summer adult classes will be held in the adult education rooms as usual, while fall classes may adjust their schedule or location. Those details (and many others) will be worked out and shared with you in the coming months.

While we are planning an official kickoff in September, this summer we will hold town hall meetings to provide a forum to bring your questions and share feedback. The pastors and I invite and encourage you to attend these meetings, which are currently scheduled for June 20, July 11, August 1, and August 22. As the dates approach, we will provide more information. Also, we’re asking the congregation to begin thinking about how they can contribute financially to this project. This commitment is one we would all take on together, so our September meeting will provide an opportunity to commit to raising seven million dollars over the next few years.

As always, the most important way to be involved in this campaign is to join us in praying. We gather week by week to bring God the praise he deserves. And although the exact location is not essential (as our pandemic period has proven), one way of honoring the Lord is to faithfully steward the space entrusted to our care – the space, we trust, that will once again become the primary place to worship together. We see this as an important responsibility. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment as we undertake these plans. Pray that our church would be a warm and welcoming place and a strong witness even during construction. And please pray that the Lord would provide for our needs and that it might be for his glory.

Please feel free to reach out to me (cgray@4thpres.org or 301-320-1320) if you have any questions.

In Christ,

Corey Gray
Pastor of Administration

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