Town Hall Update

Town Hall Update

Last Sunday’s Town Hall meeting was nothing short of a huge success especially if you consider that we used all of our available tables and chairs. More than 240 participated in the conversation about the future of our congregation and heard engaging presentations about a possible campaign to fund needed updates to our facility.

first phase rendering
First Phase Rendering

The Town Hall began with a stated purpose of the event, which was to update the congregation on a “Potential and Possibilities Study” conducted by Horizons Stewardship Strategist, Don Smith. The meeting also provided information regarding the work of the Building Committee that was established at our September 11 Church Conference. Furthermore, our meeting updated the congregation on Vision 2020 and the work to reach our mission field.

We were reminded that our vision “is to be a church that embraces all generations in a life-changing Christian journey to change the world.” We heard updates on key accomplishments in 2016 in our Stepping Stones to the Future. We then heard from our Ministry Strategist Don Smith regarding his discoveries about the possibilities for raising funds. His key findings included:
  • A high level of trust for our staff and lay leadership for leading the church in a campaign.
  • A large number of people unsure of the congregation’s commitment to raise the funds, yet a substantial percentage of people believe we can do it. Don Smith noted that it is not an uncommon dynamic for a pre-campaign environment. Because the campaign strategist facilitates a successful campaign eight times each year, Smith noted that “prior to the launch of a capital campaign, sometimes the strategist believes in the congregation before the congregation believes in itself.”
  • 77 percent of people surveyed are supportive or very supportive of a capital campaign to address our facility priorities.
  • 82 percent of people surveyed believe they have received adequate communication about the details of the facility needs and plans for this project.

Don Smith responded to a recurring question regarding Dave Ramsey’s philosophy of paying off debt before anything else. He applauded every effort to pay off debt, which we have been doing for years. He also reminded us that the point of offering Financial Peace University (FPU) was to invite us to “live like no one else so that we can give like no one else.”

It has been three years since the church-wide FPU initiative. The good news is that our average pledge is $5,200 for our church; however, only a small percentage of our households actually tithe. Smith reminded us that if every household in the church tithed, we would have no debt and we would not need to have a capital campaign to raise money for the renovations we need. Yet, until our congregation as a whole lives into the principles of FPU, it will be necessary to continue to use debt strategically in order to fulfill the ministry vision that we believe God has for First United Methodist Church of Allen.

At the conclusion of the report, Don Smith estimated that we have the capacity to raise between $2M and $3M in the capital campaign currently scheduled for this spring.

Following the campaign research report, Chair of the Building Committee Jeanie Schulmeister gave an update on the work being done in this committee. She presented a possible Master Plan for our church campus, giving us a long-term picture to move toward. She also presented what the Building Committee has developed thus far with GFF Architects that would include demolishing the current youth wing, remodeling the classrooms next to the gym into a new youth wing, and expanding the existing first floor children’s area to integrate all of the children’s area into one secure area. The preliminary design also includes an expanded hospitality area on the northwest side of the labyrinth and provides a main entrance. (To gain a better idea of what was reported, please stop and look at one of the four poster displays around the church.)

The Town Hall report also included a 2016 giving update, which celebrated a year-end surplus of almost $27,000. December giving was extremely generous and allows FUMC Allen to begin 2017 with a positive cash flow. The Finance Committee is finalizing the 2017 budget, which will soon be considered by our Administrative Council.

On January 22 at 12:15pm in the Sanctuary, we will convene a Church Conference to consider a motion to conduct a three-year Capital Campaign to raise the funds to address our building priorities. If approved, the Capital Campaign would commence this spring under the guidance of Don Smith of Horizons Stewardship.

Please note that we will only consider approving one Capital Campaign, but there is a strong sentiment among church leaders that this would be the first of two consecutive three-year campaigns over six years to address our building priorities and retire our church debt. Based on Don Smith’s projection for an upcoming spring campaign, most of our leaders believe we have the capacity to raise $6M between the two campaigns to modernize our facility and pay off the debt. A more detailed financing plan will be presented once we see how much is pledged and raised in the first campaign assuming the congregation votes to move forward.