Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Parish Forum - The Future of the Hall: Background Information

On Saturday December 7th we will be coming together to discuss the future of the hall at St. Philip's church at a Parish Forum that will run from 9:30 - Noon. To their credit parishioners at St. Philip's have succeeded in financing and restoring the tower, however we need to deal with the even bigger issue of the hall. The primary reason we need to address this issue is the fact that the roof needs to be replaced in the coming years which is estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We need to explore our options, but before we do that we need to evaluate our needs and our mission as a faith community. In what is colloquially known as the "kitchen meetings" the issue of the hall has been addressed in the past. Beyond the fact that the roof needs to be replaced there are several other issues we should consider. Here is a brief review of some of the issues we may want to incorporate into our planning.

We need to consider that the church hall is:

1. Functional Obsolescence

- Accessibility: No handicap access (and it is impossible to make the basement accessible)
- Fire code: Basement does not have 2 exits that meet fire codes
- Security: Access cannot be easily monitored (has resulted in thefts)

2. Missional Obsolescence 

- Small kitchen (poor layout, stoves not vented, no dishwasher)
- Mice have lots of points of access
- Mold is always a danger due to water infiltration from the roof
- Hall cannot accommodate multiple users leading to scheduling conflicts
- No designated Sunday School/children's space (guild room is not suited for this purpose)

3. High Operating Costs

- High heating costs due to inefficient system and lack of insulation
- Rental income barely covers operating costs 

According to our internal bookkeeping it is clear that the hall consumes a lot of resources and in its current configuration it is unsustainable over the long term. A rough approximation of hall expenses include:

- 80 percent of janitorial costs
- 75 percent of oil heating costs (we heat the hall about 60-65 hours per week, while the church is heated only 20 hours per week)
- 75 percent for electricity (we have the lights on in the hall around 65 hours per week, mostly for renters)
- 30 percent of insurance costs.

Hall maintenance is another expense that we need to consider. The annual maintenance bill for the slate roof is between $1500 to $2000, and it costs approximately $500 for yearly furnace maintenance (our service contract covers does not cover parts).

Beyond the obvious necessity of repairing the roof we need to consider what needs to be done internally to make the space more functional. There are many benefits from a modern commercial kitchen, which includes but is not limited to improved social events and fundraisers. Other uses for the hall could include an area specifically designated for child care.

It will be difficult and of questionable utility to raise the hundreds of thousands required to repair the roof on the hall if we do not address the issues raised above. Building a new hall is one option but we will need to find a way to make it a revenue generator so that it can pay for itself rather than simply accrue unmanageable debt. Regardless of which path we take we will need to be creative about the way that we secure funding.

All members of St. Philip's church are encouraged to join us on Saturday December 9 so that we can begin the process of exploring who we are as a faith community and what that translates to as far as the hall is concerned. 

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