Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, October 17, 2016

Playing building catch-up - Rector's Rambling for October 16, 2016

For another week we have the proposed plans available for your perusal and comment after the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM services.  This is for the project to renovate the undercroft (the area underneath the church) and the 1971 office building attached to the back of the chapel and church.
So far we have gotten some great feedback and ideas from parishioners about the proposed projects.  Although some are beyond the scope of this particular project (air conditioning the church sounds great, and we are getting some bids to see if it is plausible, but it is not a part of this project), most of the thoughts shared are helping the vestry and building committee to see clearly how we may move forward.
Meetings are being held with members of the vestry and committees to look at the particular financial aspects concerning a possible project.  Decisions are being made to be mission oriented with prudent financial stewardship in mind.
In many ways we are playing “catch up” for maintenance deferred.  When I arrived in 2001 we had $380,000 worth of stone and roof repairs to do urgently, and had 60 people in the pews.  We had several large gifts to start the project and then managed to pay off a $150,000 loan within five years.
Now we are dealing with a building (office) and undercroft that were built/last updated in 1971 and are now desperately in need of major work.  This is not just cosmetic work (which is also overdue), but structural as well as functional.
The office building leaks every time it rains, despite having had roofers out a dozen times to fix what is a flat roof engineering problem.  Plumbers are working on fixing the rainwater back up into the undercroft hallway, and waterproofing of the exterior walls is being addressed.
But in addition to these necessary fixes to preserve the fabric of the buildings, we are looking to find ways to better utilize them for mission and ministry, our primary function, which will involve renovations and updates.  The question we are pondering is just what work we should do to glorify God, and how we should pay for that work.
This is worthy of our prayers as St. John’s moves forward in faith, seeking the Lord’s guidance for these projects and beyond.