Week of February 5, 2014

Todd JonesMy Dear Friends,

In October of 2006, our congregation embarked on a capital campaign — Milestones & Cornerstones — that grew out of our Session’s strategic plan for First Presbyterian Church. It was an ambitious plan that reflected a comprehensive strategic planning process for both the church and Oak Hill School. The results of this campaign are the updated and expanded facilities that we all enjoy today. Let me remind you of the scope of this bold plan:

  1. A new Children’s Ministry Wing, which repositioned our youngest children’s space nearer to the Sanctuary and Courtenay Hall.
  2. New administrative and staff offices, as well as additional and much-needed, quality adult education spaces on the second floor of the new wing, along with an attractive new entrance and reception area for visitors to our church.
  3. Reworked and expanded parking, along with new curbing all around the campus.
  4. A new nursery and early childhood spaces where our former administrative offices used to be.
  5. The new 30,000-square-foot Enrichment Center to serve the needs of Oak Hill School, which also hosts our 10:55 Service. The downstairs of this facility has classrooms that serve the fine arts program of Oak Hill School and adult Sunday School classes on Sunday mornings.
  6. Courtenay Hall, the principle fellowship and dining space of First Presbyterian Church, was completely remodeled and given a much-needed facelift.
  7. A new Don Wade Pool was installed alongside a remodeled Cannon Youth Center, which houses our Scout Troop and Room In The Inn.
  8. The transformation of the old Oak Hill School library into The Gathering Place, a signature youth and young adult space for our church, and the Matt Hill Prayer Room. These facilities, the last of all the projects related to our campaign, were just dedicated on January 19.

In sum, we added 72,000 new square footage to our campus and remodeled Courtenay Hall, as well as retrofitted the former administrative suite and Oak Hill School library space for new ministry purposes in keeping with our strategic plan. The initial cost of this project was $20,000,000. Oak Hill School committed to pay $4,000,000 of this over a three-year period that began in 2008, a commitment they fulfilled. We raised $14,400,000 in pledges and gifts, and moved ahead. Over seven hundred families made pledges of gifts to the Milestones & Cornerstones campaign — widespread commitment by our congregation.

As the years passed, our Session made additional payments at the end of some years out of operating surpluses. Over these same years, we also voted as a congregation, at the Session’s recommendation, to purchase two parcels of land. In 2008, we purchased the home and almost four acres on Robertson Academy where our Executive Pastor now lives, believing that this contiguous land would be valuable for our future. We also purchased the five-acre lot and home next door to Tyne House in conjunction with Oak Hill School, which shared equally in the purchase, believing that this property will serve the long-term strategic needs of both the church and Oak Hill School.

We have accomplished much since 2006. The facilities we enjoy have greatly enhanced our ministry to children and youth, providing wonderful new and refreshed space for congregational fellowship and alternative worship services, as well as expanding and providing for more upto- date adult education space. The facilities we have added are beautiful, functional, welcoming and energy efficient. A word of heartfelt thanks is due to the people of First Presbyterian Church whose generosity turned our strategic plan’s vision into a wondrous reality.

I want to bring you up-to-date on where we now stand on the debt relating to these comprehensive improvements. Of the $14,400,000 in pledges and gifts made to the campaign and construction projects that followed, $1,319,000 went unpaid. This is less than 10 percent, and likely occurred because of the financial crisis that ensued in late 2008 and 2009. As of today, with all of our expanded construction projects complete — and with the unanticipated addition of almost nine acres of property to our campus — our total debt stands at $1,751,000.

We have this debt on a ten-year note, but our Session would like to eliminate it. Elder John Ferguson volunteered to Chair a committee to address the elimination of this debt. On the recommendation of John’s committee, our Session has decided to conduct a one-month campaign to retire this debt. We believe the time is ripe and our congregation stands in a place where this can be accomplished with the help of all of our members. You will be hearing more about these campaign plans over the next weeks in worship, in the First Edition, and in special mailings. Gifts will be applied immediately to reduce our indebtedness, and every dollar given to exceed this $1,751,000 will go into our Mission Endowment Fund, a fund that currently is used to support the vital work of the Center for Youth Ministry Training.

Everyone who is a part of our church enjoys the fruits of our new and improved facilities, and we are a stronger and more vibrant church because of these additions. The improvements belong to everyone — and so does the debt!

I hope that you will prayerfully attend to the presentations you hear and the letters that you receive over the next weeks, and will consider carefully the part that you can play in this effort to strengthen our church by eliminating this debt and freeing up money going to interest payments to expand our mission “To know Christ, and to make Him known, and exhibit His love through worship, education and service.” Together, with God’s help, we can do this!

With Love and Prayers,

Todd Jones

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