April 20, 2018

Forever First Capital Campaign

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An update on our Forever First Campaign by Marc Ridenour

Do you know what is AWESOME? Writing a newsletter article again after a 3-month hiatus! I have missed communicating with you all about what is going on around the House of the Lord.
In the early church it took 20 years after Christ’s death and resurrection before the first written texts started. Everyone who had been a part of the Jesus phenomenon lived within walking distance of Jerusalem and knew what had happened. It was thought that Jesus was coming back soon, so the brick and mortar buildings weren’t yet needed to house the people who were meeting under the name of “Christian”. Once the early churches
started showing up in places like Thessalonica, Rome, and Corinth there needed to be communications written. It was the Apostle Paul who sat down and started writing to the young churches that had sprung up throughout the land.
Some of you who read this article do not have the opportunity to join us at the buildings on a weekly basis, but still call First Church your place of worship. This update on our brick (stone) and mortar buildings is for you.
As a result of the Forever First capital campaign we have made our worship experience brighter, louder, clearer, and more impactful with a massive Audio and Visual upgrade for both locations. High definition TV screens, state of the art electronics, speakers, mixers, and software have brought our services into the 21st century of professional presentation. The upgrades that we set out to achieve are nearly complete. We will be addressing the most difficult and time consuming one of installing our new T-coil hearing loop in the downtown sanctuary in the near future.
Another portion of the capital campaign was to restore and preserve the oldest stone portion of the Historic church building. We have contracts signed for the replacement of the slate roofs on the two towers using a genuine Vermont slate that has a 100-year warranty. That work should start within 6 weeks, and take two weeks to finish. We will then move on to the stone restoration in late August. I was able to secure a grant from the Douglas County Cultural and Heritage Council that is helping to pay for us to completely restore our beloved bell in the south tower. It will be ceremoniously craned out of the tower, crated up, and shipped to Cincinnati to be polished, tuned, and rebuilt with new support parts, sealed bearings, and ready to ring for another 130 years. The grant will also allow us to restore a tolling feature that was disabled over 50 years ago. We are planning a big media event with a party on the sidewalk when we close down the street to crane our restored bell back up into its perch.
Unlike Paul’s writings to the early church, I do not have words of wisdom of how to conduct your selves on moral issues of the day, fair business dealings, or peaceful charitable living. I doubt you all would appreciate that, for you can surely reference your closest Bible to fill that need. Like Paul, however, I do write to you out of love for the church, for Christ, and encourage you all to continue to support one another and the church that we all call home.

Lawrence First United Methodist Church has enjoyed a rich past filled with many blessings and challenges. Those challenges have been met with faithful commitment for more than 160 years. We are now faced with some new challenges that will require a renewed sense of commitment.

What are the needs?

  • Debt Reduction – The original cost of our second campus was $7.7 million. Through faithful giving we have reduced that debt to $1.8 million. The goal is to reduce our debt to$1.2 million by June of 2021. Our interest payments will be approximately $180,000 over the next three years.
  • Tower Restoration – The 128 year-old towers of the Downtown building are in urgent need of restoration and stabilization. Stone pieces are literally falling off. Plans are moving forward to repair and replace the damages. The total cost is projected to be $170,000.
  • Audio Visual Upgrades – The audio visual systems for all three of our worship spaces need to be upgraded to provide a higher quality of worship experience. Many of our components are not only outdated but also unusable. New speakers, monitors, projectors, microphones, and LED video capability will resolve our current sound & video issues.The estimated cost of these upgrades is $250,000.

What is the plan?

The plan is to have a three-year capital campaign to respond to these urgent needs. Forever First, and a campaign goal of $1.2 million, will allow us to move forward on each need. Members will be asked to make a three-year pledge, over and above their operating commitment, to help us move into the future with confidence.

What if we exceed our goal?

If Forever First were to bring pledges totaling more than $1.2 million, the additional capital will be applied to the principle of our loan. All capital campaign gifts will be used only for capital expenses and debt reduction.