Many thanks to everyone who attended our recent town hall meetings to discuss our projected capital maintenance expenses and planning for the future of our parish. There were many good questions and I am grateful for the honest feedback that was offered. In the interest of keeping everyone informed, including those who were not able to be present at the meetings, the following is a summary of the discussions that were had among all three meetings.
At all three meetings, we briefly noted the maintenance expenses that we have undertaken in the past seven years. As I mentioned at Mass a few months ago, this number came to about $1 million. In addition, we provided most of the ordinary operating expenses related to buildings and properties over that same time period. We then provided a printed spreadsheet with all of the projected capital maintenance expenses of which we are aware will need to be done in the next five years or so. For all of the capital maintenance projects that still need to be done, we are projecting to spend $1.7 million in the next five years. In light of the massive number of projects that need to be completed, we hired a structural engineer to examine our three churches and the Ed Center in Paulding. We highlighted some of the most important projects that will need to be done, based on the structural engineer’s observations and recommendations.
These projects include, but are not limited to, tuck-pointing all three churches, repairing plaster and painting in all three churches, replacing the roof on the Antwerp church and the Payne church, repairing water damage on the Paulding church ceiling, substantial repairs to the structure of the Payne church roof, moisture problems on the Antwerp church foundation, and peaking the roof on the Paulding Ed Center.
At all three meetings, discussion ensued about what would be the most sensible pathway forward for the long-term financial and pastoral stability of our parish. Additionally at all three meetings, parishioners asked the long-term planning committee to research what the cost would be to build a new church and what the cost would be to consolidate to one of our already existing campuses. We will be working hard to gather that information, but this will take conversations with architects and contractors to produce actual costs for these proposals.
Another theme emerged at all three town hall meetings, but especially at our second one. This pertains mainly to the pastoral well being of our parish. It was noted by many at the second meeting that, if most our time, money, and energy are being poured into buildings and we are not able to really invest much into pastoral endeavors, then there is an imbalance. Of course, we always have to take care of our buildings, but we should also be intentional about taking care of souls as well. Some noted that the future of our parish depends on how well we combine our resources as a parish family and work together to not only spiritually grow ourselves, but also to invite those back to the sacraments who have fallen away from the Church. This is certainly important and cannot be overlooked!
Ultimately, what we need to discuss as a parish is whether our current rate of spending for capital maintenance projects is sustainable for a long time or only for a few more years. In fifteen or twenty years, will we be able to continue paying millions of dollars to repair and maintain three full campuses? It is important to note here that no decisions have been made at this point and nothing has yet been determined regarding our campuses. For this reason, I have put a temporary hold on all non-urgent capital maintenance projects until we have a plan in place. Time, then, is of the essence, because buildings do not wait. I mean, of course, that the longer we take to formulate a plan, the more the list of repairs will continue to grow.
We will have more town hall meetings once we do research into the abovementioned proposals of building a new church and consolidating to one already existing campus. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, etc., then please feel free to contact me or Dianne Jones at the parish office. In next weekend’s bulletin I will provide answers to specific questions that were asked at these three recent town hall meetings.
Blessings to you all!