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A Letter From the Pastors

As children, many of us learned the song,

The church is not a building,
The church is not a steeple,
The church is not a resting place,
The church is a people.

The church is not a building, but God’s people do need some place to gather. From the very beginning, God’s people have always created holy spaces to symbolize God’s presence and to strengthen their life together.

The first thing Noah does when he and his family get off the ark is to build an altar, a place of worship. When Abraham follows God’s call to the promised land, he also builds an altar, a reminder of God’s gracious promise. God instructs

Moses to build a tabernacle to symbolize God’s presence with the people on their journey. King David asks to build a more permanent house for God, but God says that David’s son Solomon will be given that privilege. The temple in Jerusalem becomes the center of the people’s life together, and pilgrims from many faiths still visit the Western Wall of the temple mount as a place of memory and prayer.

The followers of Jesus continue to worship in their local synagogues and at the temple, but they also gather in homes for singing, prayers, study, community and service. As the church grows the people build places for the whole community to gather. Some are simple and some are spectacular. They are beautiful symbols and functional buildings.

At Westminster, we are blessed with a wonderful place for our community life. This place was provided for us by those who have come before us, and now the time has come for us to do our part.

As your pastors, we see the breadth and the depth of the various ministries and mission that take place in our building. We are excited to announce the "All In: Building Westminster's Place of Community" campaign. We invite you to take part in a two-year, two million dollar initiative to make significant repairs to our facilities, including replacing our failing pews and rotting woodwork and gutters, and foster a more welcoming and functional space with updates to our Sanctuary, Educational Wing, and Offices.

These improvements will strengthen our mission and ministry and be a blessing not just to us, but also to our community and to all who will follow us in serving God as a part of Westminster.

Yours,

Ernie, Butch, Sam, and Caroline


+ WHO WE ARE

Today, Westminster's thriving community has approximately 1800 members and has committed to changing lives through worship, practice, and community.

WORSHIP

Westminster maintains a solid reputation for strong, meaningful worship. We strive to build on the courage and innovation which made Westminster one of the first PCUSA churches in our area to implement a vibrant contemporary service, while letting the Spirit lead us in new ways. We are currently blessed with four thoughtful and articulate preachers, incredibly dedicated and talented musicians, and passionate lay leaders willing to lift the service to new levels of excellence.

PRACTICE

Westminster takes seriously its commitment to practice through faith formation and missional outreach. We offer an array of opportunities to grow in faith, including Sunday Night Life, Church School, Small Groups, a vital Youth Ministry, a thriving Children’s Ministry, a growing Contemplative Ministry, Bible Studies, and more. We also have a rich history of missional relationship with our community which we believe is a crucial part of our calling as God's people. We partner with thirty local and ten national and international organizations throughout the year to embrace faith through service.

COMMUNITY

Westminster embraces its role as a warm, open, and inclusive faith community. We take care of each other through a wide array of ministries that offer meals, letters, prayers, prayer shawls, visits, support groups, and much more. We love each other well through fellowship, faith, and fun. We also strive to continually evaluate how we can be welcoming to the broader community. Hospitality at Westminster is not just a southern practice—it's the way we live out our faith day-to-day.

+ WHERE WE ARE GOING

Westminster has always been a church beyond our walls. Our incredible dedication to missions and service is one we are proud to continue. Our “All In: Building Westminster’s Place of Community” campaign is not a departure from that focus but, instead, a continuation of our commitment to God and service.

It has been more than 30 years now since we have done any significant repairs and improvements. We now have several important needs (in order of priority):

  • Sanctuary Improvements
  • Sound System and Hearing Assistance
  • Exterior Gutters and Trim Repair
  • Bathroom Improvements and Accessibility
  • Children’s Wing Improvements
  • Office Repairs and Improvements
  • Main Kitchen Improvements
  • Adult Education/Community Rooms Improvement
  • Security
  • Deferred Maintenance
  • Boiler Contingency Fund
  • Parking
  • Youth Kitchen Remodel
  • Chapel Hallway Bathroom Improvements and Accessibility

We are convicted of the importance of this fundraising effort not just by the broken gutters and worn-out pews but also by the calling God makes of each of us to worship, to serve, and to come together in Christ's name.

+ How will the money be allocated?

Sanctuary and Building Exterior

  • Sanctuary Improvements (new pews and chairs, flooring, chancel, space for band, choir risers, projectors front and back, center aisle and door, side door, enclosed breezeway, lighting, walls and colors)
  • Sound System and Hearing Assistance
  • Exterior Gutters and Trim Repair
  • Contingency and Transition Costs
  • Benevolence of 10%

Estimated Cost: $1,200,000

  • Education and Office Buildings
  • Bathroom Improvements (handicap accessible, family/gender neutral, upgrades)
  • Children’s Wing (skim coat concrete walls, painting, flooring, furniture and equipment)
  • Office Repairs and Improvements (skim coat hallways, move four lower offices upstairs, subdivide some offices, new flooring and ceilings)
  • Contingency and Transition Costs
  • Additional Benevolence

Estimated Cost: $500,000

Other Repairs and Improvements

  • Main Kitchen Improvements (equipment, painting, flooring)
  • Adult Education Wing
  • Security
  • Deferred Maintenance
  • Boiler Contingency Fund
  • Parking Improvements
  • Contingency and Transition
  • Additional Benevolence

Estimated Cost: $300,000

Potential Projects as Funds Allow

  • Youth Kitchen Remodel
  • Chapel Hallway bathrooms
  • Outdoor Gathering/Recreation Space
  • Sidewalk along Westminster
  • Westminster and Redington House Repairs, Improvements or Removal
  • New Endowments for: Mission, Building, Annual Budget

+ Frequently Asked Questions

How soon will the projects begin? The woodwork repairs will begin as soon as we find the right contractor. The Sanctuary renovation is scheduled to begin July 22. We don’t yet have a timeline for the education and office building work.

Why are we moving so fast? Church leadership (staff, lay leaders, Session) have been seeking God’s wisdom on next steps for Westminster for many years. It became apparent that improvements and repairs were crucial to eliminating barriers to living our call to be a faithful place of worship, practice, and community.

Our last major campaign here at Westminster was the Adventure in Faith campaign in 1986-87, which was held to build the Sanctuary. The last semi-major work done on our building was in 2001 when we refurbished our church school classrooms. Almost two decades later, repairs are unavoidable. But more importantly, the Session and staff feel we have greater clarity and excitement about Westminster’s future. We strongly feel now is the time to act.

Why is the congregation just hearing about these plans? Unlike an annual pledge drive, a traditional campaign typically begins with a quiet or leadership phase, where the goal is to raise at least half of the goal before going public. We have also been working to finalize details and to prepare publicity materials in time for the launch of the congregational phase.

How long will we be out of the Sanctuary, and where will we worship? The current plans are to be out of the Sanctuary for approximately 14 weeks. During construction, we will worship in the Fellowship Hall.

Are our musicians supportive of these changes? Yes. The Sanctuary Improvement Team worked closely with our musicians to ensure that the new plans work well for both worship services.

Will we gain or lose any seating in the Sanctuary? We will gain a few seats. Our goal was not to lose any seats but also not to increase the seating to a number that would require expensive changes to bring everything up to code.

What about the multipurpose building that has been discussed? The multipurpose building is still a part of our long-term plans, but our priority is to take care of the Sanctuary and current facilities.

Is there a reason that we did not have a mission auction this Spring? The campaign has a 10% benevolent component. Some of this benevolence money will be used for our mission fund. We also canceled our trips to Nicaragua last summer. In light of both these things, the Outreach Committee decided not to hold a mission auction this year.

What if I don’t think I can make my annual pledge and give to the Building WPC campaign? Your annual stewardship pledge comes first. Gifts to the building campaign should be above and beyond your annual stewardship giving. We hope that many of us might be able to, on a short-term basis, do both.

How long is the pledge period? Two years, from June 2019 to June 2021. For tax purposes, the campaign covers three calendar years. Some will choose to make their entire gift now, which reduces our need for a construction loan. Others may want or need to choose a longer payment period.

How can I find out more? Talk to any of the pastors, musicians, elders, or members of the building campaign team: Paul and Brook Wingate (co-chairs), John Cross, Tony Collins, Pamela Wilkie, Sally Royster or Craig Siler.

We will also be holding Building Tours throughout the summer as an opportunity to explore the many ways we utilize our building, the needed repairs, and the exciting plans for the future.