I have traveled some for work this past week, noticing that just about anywhere I go these days in ‘church-related circles,’ people have heard about our recent decisions related to our church’s physical footprint! It quickly comes up in conversation, and I’m asked often: “so what’s going on with the buildings?”

“So what is going on with the buildings these days?,” you too might wonder! You remember that in June, our congregation heard a presentation from the Special Committee on Facilities and MIssion that represented a year and a half of focused work around our facilities and their sustainability. A number of listening sessions followed, and together, we voted overwhelmingly as a congregation to affirm the four main points of the Special Committee’s proposal: restore the exterior of the church’s historic Sanctuary building; reduce our overall size and cost by tearing down Buildings B & C and close our Children’s Center; renovate our remaining building to host all the church’s needs within; and reimagine our grounds with the addition of a 4200-square foot atrium and multi-functional space, as well as an outdoor chapel in the footprint of our existing chapel.

In July, we voted as a congregation to hire Ruben Swint as our capital campaign consultant. Since then, Ruben has completed 27 interviews of individuals and families within the church to inform an initial assessment of our readiness for the capital campaign, and has reported his findings back to our Deacons, Special Committee, and Finance Committee. The groundwork for our bold campaign is already being laid, and we are moving well towards a February/March 2018 campaign with great anticipation!

In that same July meeting, we voted to hire Joe Bircher of Walter Robbs Callahan Pierce as our architect. Joe and his team have been hard at work, tirelessly readying their team for the next phase we’ll undertake together called ‘schematic design.’ Because of the scope of the work that lies ahead and the interconnectedness of the various parts of our buildings (the roof, the boiler, the HVAC, the plumbing, you name it!), Joe’s team has unanimously recommended to us to bring in an experienced contractor as soon as possible in a process of preconstruction called “construction manager at risk.” A traditional process would have the architect design the space, draw up construction documents, bid out the project to a number of contractors, then hire a contractor to do what the architect has drawn. By contrast, the construction manager at risk process involves the contractors from the very beginning, working hard to alleviate early whatever surprises might lurk behind walls and under floors, thus keeping the project’s costs in full conversation with the project’s design.

It appears that our project is perfectly suited for this method of design and construction, and so the Special Committee will come to you next Sunday with that recommendation! Joe and his team recently shepherded the Special Committee through a series of interviews with three tremendously talented local contractors. Each one brought significant expertise and interest to our project, and gave us a glimpse of what the months ahead might look like as we get started. After a great deal of conversation and discernment, the Special Committee is recommending to you that First Baptist enter into a “construction manager at risk” process and utilize the expertise of Frank L. Blum Construction to do the work.

Blum comes highly regarded in the community and in First Baptist. As the contractor on our Ammons-Lolley Commons project, they did an excellent and thorough job of renovation. They are hard at work on all sorts of projects in downtown Winston-Salem, and have done nearly 100 church projects similar to our own. They came to the interview process thoroughly prepared, and the Special Committee feels confident that they can handle our project extremely well. The experience and excellence they bring to their work, along with their engagement in downtown, makes them the selection and recommendation of the Special Committee to you! Blum charges no cost for preconstruction work, and we the church reserve the right to bid out the project as we are ready to begin. However, the hope of the Special Committee is that the church will review the work of Blum in preconstruction, consider the cost of the project once it is determined, and affirm their selection as the contractor for the actual construction itself.

In our Quarterly Church Conference next Sunday, October 15, you will hear this recommendation from the Special Committee and be asked to vote on it. Should this recommendation be affirmed, this will move us squarely into the ‘schematic design’ phase of preconstruction, where the specifics of the buildings will be discussed and determined. Much to come! Stay tuned — you will be kept up to speed every step of the way!

Even as our church prepares for future construction and renovation, our Deacons have taken on the substantial task of coordinating the assessment of all our ‘stuff,’ accumulated over decades and piled into every nook and cranny our 114,000 square feet has to offer! We have tended to hold onto things, partly because we have the room to store it in our existing buildings. As our footprint decreases, we’ll need to throw away, give away, sell, or store the items and artifacts in our buildings. I give thanks for our Deacons for heading up this effort! And who knows — perhaps we’ll have a massive yard sale in the near future!

Another task our Deacons are coordinating is a celebration of our facilities, full of remembrances of the incredible ministry contained within and blessings for our future space. They are already hard at work to plan a memorable weekend (likely sometime this spring) that will encourage us and give us a meaningful way to mark this ending.

Whew! As we say around here, “there’s a lot going on!” But deeper than that, God is hard at work in our midst, summoning us into a faithful, creative, hopeful future ahead!

Together in the work of Love,

Pastor Emily

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