The last few months at St. Nicholas have given us tremendous blessings in growth. Whereas our average Sunday attendance in 2010 was 80 (inclusive of both services), we’ve had a number of Sundays where attendance reached into the 90’s and one Sunday that went over 100! Folks are noticing that our Sunday School room is packed with children, our nursery has been full, and even our Adult Forum room has been at capacity. This is not to mention our 11:00am service which has us adding extra seats and using overflow space from time to time.
Needless to say, we are getting frequent questions about building a new building. The Strategic Planning Committee has been working on the process of developing our plans for growth. Below is a typical planning process for a new building. Of course, every church and process is unique, especially for those of us who have never done it before, so while this is a typical process, it can certainly happen differently in real life.
1. The Vestry creates a Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) to handle the process with the SPC reporting regularly to the Vestry on progress. Nick Simpson serves as chair of this committee and is happy to receive feedback or answer any more in-depth questions you might have. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and phone number is 706 594-2884.
2. The SPC evaluates the building and grounds we currently have. A topographical survey is done to determine the “lay of the land.” This survey will later be given to an architect. We just received the finished topographical survey this week.
3. The SPC takes a “needs assessment” survey of the congregation. This survey was done in December and January, to get an initial idea of what the needs of the congregation are in terms of our building. This survey gives an idea of how our buildings are helping or hindering our congregation.
4. The SPC begins to choose an architect who will create a master site plan for St. Nicholas. This site plan will determine our needs and create a visual of our future campus. The SPC recently narrowed down a list of 8 architect firms to 5 and has sent a request for qualifications to each of them. We are currently awaiting responses.
5. From the ones that respond, we will invite the architects to come and be interviewed by the SPC and the Vestry. The Vestry will make the decision on who to choose to develop our master site plan.
6. The architect will work with us to further determine our needs and will explore with us how to use our existing facilities more efficiently. This may include “town hall meetings” to get more input from the congregation. The architect will create the master site plan complete with plans and visuals.
7. The architect will also help us determine what our building budget should be, based on our current membership and financial situation. Once this is balanced with our needs, the architect will present a picture of what we can afford.
8. One project that may be immediate after we get the master site plan is the construction of a new sign. We have a memorial gift designated for this project, but have waited until we know what the master site will look like before we build it. This sign will be put on the corner of Mobley Road and Highway 116. As you probably know, the construction next door of the new Harris County Recreational Center is a tremendous opportunity for us. We have a prime location as Hamilton grows in our direction, so letting people know where we are with a new sign will be important.
9. Once we know what kind of building we want to build and what we can afford, we will begin a capital campaign. We will create a separate committee to facilitate the capital campaign. There is no definitive length of time for a capital campaign. But also know that we have an existing building fund and donations to it may be made at any time before we start on an official campaign.
10. Once we get a clear picture of how much we have raised in gifts and pledges, we can break ground.
It is difficult to set a time line on these steps as we don’t know what the Holy Spirit will do along the way. The coming months will be important as we each invite newcomers to be a part of our community, as we review our finances and pledge commitments, and as we deal with our space restrictions. We will have to channel our creativity into new ideas to best use our current space, as well as dreaming up our new facilities. We will need to be patient and understanding with one another all along the way. This is a very exciting time in the life of St. Nicholas, and we ask that you be an active part of it with your thoughts and ideas. As we work our way through the many steps of this project, we ask for your prayers and support and promise to keep you up to date on progress.