As we work and meet with various key players in the development of our property, we notice them inevitably making innocent comments like, “Remember that the ultimate goal in all this is to build a building,” or “At the end of the day, our goal is to build a building.” They mean no harm, of course, but we, as the church, have a responsibility to voice our reply: “With all due respect, building a building is not our ultimate goal; it’s to build the church, a people who share in the life of God for the life of the world.” Or at least we have a responsibility to remind ourselves of this in the midst of all the details and logistics entailed in such a project. A physical building is a means to an end. Let us never forget!
Nevertheless, there are still details and logistics to keep track of as we work to break ground on Phase 1 of our Mission Abbey. So where do things currently stand? With a goal to begin construction this Spring, here are some final hoops our teams are working to jump through.
First, we need to hire a General Contractor. We recently sent out Request for Proposals (RFPs) to about ten potential General Contractors, and expect to hear back from most of them by the end of the year. The Vestry along with the Construction Team will select about three of them for face-to- face interviews, which will likely occur in mid-January. During this time, our Finance & Accounting Team will make their final decision on which bank will help us with our financing.
Once we hire the General Contractor, he will work with the bank to finalize a construction loan, and then the bank will secure a pre-construction appraisal, which usually takes 3–5 weeks. The timing, then, should work out for things to start happening on our property sometime this Spring, depending on the weather, of course. In an ideal world, the building would be completed in a year’s time, but it is more likely to be completed in about 18 months or so from the day we break ground.
On the money side of things, our Vestry set the budget for our overall project at $3 million, which includes site development, the building itself, and its furnishings. Currently, we have raised in pledges a little over $1.4 million, and anticipate some additional pledges coming in over the next few months. To date, we have already received close to $200,000 from our pledge giving.
Our Finance & Accounting Team prepared budget projections to ensure that we can handle our future debt service without limiting our current ministries. To secure the loan, according to our bylaws, the Vestry cannot encumber any part of our real estate without a vote from our parish members, in which 70% approval is needed. This vote is scheduled to be a part of this year’s Annual Parish Meeting on Wednesday, January 29.
These are exciting times as together we pursue the vision God has given us to become a Mission Abbey, a place where we as a community share in God’s life (abbey) for the life of the world (mission). And as we pursue this vision, we give thanks to God that we are even doing the work of a Mission Abbey now, as we stir up those ministries that will only blossom to full flower in the years to come as we build Christ’s Church and seek first God’s kingdom.