Town Hall Meeting Report

Town Hall Meeting Report

Make plans now to attend the Charge Conference on September 11 at 12:15pm in the sanctuary

FUMC Allen held a Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, August 21, following morning worship. More than 135 people enjoyed a light lunch, fellowship, and an update on Vision 2020 and our Stepping Stones to the Future.

Pastor Todd Harris reminded those who gathered of our vision:  FUMC Allen seeks to be a congregation that embraces all generations on a life-changing Christian journey to change the world. He then shared Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” He continued,A vision is imagining and seeing the future that God has for FUMC Allen.  Without a vision, the people perish, and if we head towards a future with no vision, we could end up anywhere.”

Pastor Todd also referenced Ephesians 3:20 that states “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” He reminded us that our work in the Town Hall meeting is to imagine the future as we envision it and to ask God to be at work in us to meet that vision.  “The Town Hall meeting is about visioning, dreaming, and imagining a different future,” said Pastor Todd.

Purpose of Town Hall Meeting

Lay Leader Kim White reminded us that the stated purpose of the Town Hall meeting is “to cast vision and give information to set the stage for a September 11 Charge Conference, an official gathering of church members to vote and make major decisions.  Today, we will provide information, ask questions, listen and record your comments in hopes of moving forward with modernizing our facility at the Charge Conference.”

“Why consider building now? What have we considered and why?” asked Jeanie Schulmeister, chair of the Building Committee Task Force.  She reminded us that Vision 2020 has been underway since its approval at the 2014 Charge Conference. Various groups have been at work to make significant strides on the Stepping Stones.  One of our stepping stones is Modernizing Our Facility, which has looked at various facility needs and ways to update our facility to 2016 standards and create a facility that is visitor friendly and inviting.

Schulmeister shared that one of the reasons we need to discuss facility needs is because of declining church participation, namely worship. Building alone will not reverse our current worship trends, but work on an aging facility can create a space that draws people towards participation and worship.  Our facility is not visitor friendly especially if you have several children.  She challenged those gathered to imagine what it is like to have to drop off your children in various parts of the building.  For example, if you enter the East entrance with three children, you’d conceivably have to go to three different parts of the building before a parent could begin looking for a class to attend.

Participants also learned that though worship attendance has declined, FUMC Allen continues to experience an increase in household giving.  Schulmeister showed how our church demographics do not reflect that of our growing community, particularly in young adults.  Allen’s young adult population is rapidly growing while that of the same demographic, 18-35, is declining at FUMC Allen.  We are also experiencing a decline in the number of children in the nursery.

What are the needs of our facility?

The Building Committee Task Force has identified the following needs, which they have summarized to five major priorities:

  1. Expand  HOSPITALITY SPACE that includes main entrance, welcome center, and informal gathering areas
  2. Design and remodel CHILDREN’S SPACE for an inviting and integrated place that is safe and secure
  3. Provide dynamic YOUTH SPACE
  4. Maintain warm and welcoming MEDIUM-SIZE MEETING SPACE for worship and fellowship
  5. Update our SANCTUARY to 2016 standards

Where we are today?

Town Hall participants learned about the research underway to identify a capital campaign consultant should the congregation vote to move forward with hiring an architect to address our priorities.  Rod Morehead, chair of the Capital Campaign Task Force, shared the priorities of this task force and the following historical information regarding FUMC’s capital campaign and historical debt load:

  • Current church debt: $1,900,000 (116 percent of annual operating budget)
  • In only five of the last 35 years has this ratio of total debt to operating budget been lower than 116 percent (see chart in the presentation linked below)
  • Debt servicing: $196,000 out of our $1,760,000 annual operating budget (11 percent )
  • Debt servicing of 11 percent is below the DFW average of 18 percent and Texas average of 25 percent (all denominations)

Morehead said, “If the church were a family making $100,000 year, the equivalent is $116,000 mortgage balance (116 percent of annual income) paying $917 per month mortgage payment (11 percent)”

Capital Campaign History

YearCampaignPledgedReceived$ Received x Annual Budget
1988-1991 Building Foundations
(Purchase Land, Pay Debt, Save)
$440,000 $316,930 1.0 x
1992-1995Catch the Building Spirit
(Phase 1–Sanctuary, Parking, Renovations)
$859,500 $773,794 1.9 x
1998-2001Arise and Build
(Phase 2–CLC: Gym, Adult/Nursery Wing)
$2,275,961 $1,948,564 2.3 x
2001-2004Building to Share
(Phase 3–Children’s Wing & Labyrinth)
$2,331,443 $1,775,856 1.5 x

FUMC Allen’s last capital campaign was 14 years ago.  “We are at the lowest debt load in 30 years,” said Morehead.  “We believe we could raise at least two times our annual operating fund. Morehead reported that capital campaigns are truly spiritual experiences that can result in raising the capital needed to build and modernize our facility to reach our potential as a community of faith.”

What are our priorities?

After hearing these reports, the Town Hall turned its attention to discussing the priorities for our facility to include a conversation about our challenges and opportunities. Given the five identified building priorities–expanded HOSPITALITY SPACE to include a main entrance, welcome center, and informal gathering areas; inviting and integrated CHILDREN’S SPACE; a dynamic YOUTH AREA; a MEDIUM-SIZE MEETING SPACE for worship, fellowship, and study; and an updated SANCTUARY to 2016 style standards– each table was asked to discuss the following questions:

  • How would you rank these priorities?
  • What would you add to the list of priorities?
  • What do you believe are the greatest challenges for our congregation as it relates to accomplishing these priorities?
  • What do you believe are the greatest strengths and resources of our congregation as it relates to accomplishing these priorities?
  • Given this conversation, how would you now rank these priorities?
  • What would you add to the list of priorities?

Each table had 20 minutes to discuss the questions and then give a report.

After 20 minutes of table discussion and their presentations, Pastor Todd closed the meeting with the following reminder: “The building of this gym we sit in was once believed  impossible. The sanctuary in which we worship was once thought to be impossible.  Most everything at one time or another was believed to be impossible, but if we as God’s people dare to have God-sized vision, the impossible becomes POSSIBLE.  When God’s people dare to be guided by the Holy Spirit and dream the impossible dream, the impossible becomes POSSIBLE.  So let us dream the impossible and dare to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and see just what happens.”