General questions about the Vision Campaign

Earlier this year, Pastor Doug shared a very powerful vision for the church that captured the giving heart of the Epworth congregation and challenged us to think about what Epworth can become and accomplish in the next several years. The dollars we are raising through this Campaign will make it possible for us to dramatically improve our church facilities but more importantly these funds will allow us to make tremendous progress towards achieving the vision that Doug shared and we have embraced as a church family. This Campaign is not about the building, instead it is about the great work that we are doing to bring more people into relationship with God.

The Annual Giving Campaign or stewardship campaign that happens in October and November each year is the key driver of our operating budget. The operating budget is how we pay for all our day-to-day expenses, like our ministries, utilities, and staff. The Vision Campaign is a separate and distinct effort to raise the funds which that will support the one-time capital investments meant to enhance the value of the facility and enable new ministries.

For a church to run over the long-run, it needs to have a healthy operating budget as well as periodic investments via capital campaigns. The funds from a capital campaign can never be used for operating expenses.

One other difference is that the majority of dollars committed to the Vision Campaign will be collected over the next three years. With the Annual Giving Campaign, the commitments are only for the following calendar year. 

Our building was built in 1960. Two additions are over 25 years old. While our needs have changed, our facilities have not evolved to meet these needs.

The first major reason to evolve is missional. We pride ourselves on being an intergenerational congregation, but we have far fewer people (adults, teens, and children) under the age of 45 than over. If Epworth is going to continue to be a center for disciple-making and a leader in mission, we must open our doors wider to younger people. Attracting and retaining young families is key. The facility (especially space designed for children and youth) needs to clearly announce that we have created space that meets the expectation of today’s younger families.

The second reason to evolve is practical. We have limited space for extended fellowship, limited space for our current Adult Sunday School ministry, limited parking, a limited Memorial Garden, and no appropriate space for our increasing demands for medium size gatherings. The building plan addresses these current needs while offering flexibility. Security for young children is very important today as well as accommodations for older people and those with special needs that were not thought about 50 years ago.

Not at all. Epworth’s worship attendance has been trending upwards over the past few years, but membership has been trending downward. One of the largest drivers for a dip in membership has been the number of deaths we have experienced over the past years. This reality calls for us to find ways to retain visitors coming through the door, keeping Epworth as a leader in mission here in Lucas County and around the world. Fresh facilities are one piece in helping us in this quest.

All institutions, whether for-profit or non-profit (think hospitals, public schools, museums), undertake building improvement and expansion projects that communicate to new comers that the organization is up to date. Renovated space communicates that we take seriously the basic expectations of persons within the community we serve. There are no examples of larger, growing congregations within the Toledo area or the West Ohio Conference that have not first taken the step to bring their facilities up to date. This project will not ensure we attract more people. However, it will greatly increase our ability to retain more of the regular visitors that step through our doors each and every week.  

Questions about the finance and protocols of the Vision Campaign

All Vision Campaign funds will be maintained in a separate checking and savings accounts that will be used exclusively for the Vision Campaign expenses and not for annual operating expenses.

Estimated costs at this time are $7.5 million. This amount will changed as we prepare and complete construction plans and bids are solicited from contractors. In order to fulfill the approved vision, the Building Committee determined the entire project would need to be completed and it could not be phased. If we are not able to secure pledges to cover the estimated construction costs, a short term mortgage will be required.

Prior to commencing a capital building project of any size, the West Ohio Conference, our governing Methodist church body, requires all churches to raise not less than 1/3 in cash, have not less than 1/3 in pledges (typically 3 year pledges) and not more than 1/3 in project financing.

Yes, the plans were approved the Maumee Watershed Building and Location Committee on February 25, 2015. Our district is enthusiastic about Epworth’s vision and this building being a tool to help fulfill our preferred future.

Assuming the Vision Campaign is successful and the Church Conference authorizes the Building Committee to proceed in early 2016, it will take approximately 4 months for the architects to prepare final building plans and solicit contractor bids so we estimate construction will be able to start as early as June, 2016.

If you have a gift that you like to offer before the formal collection in November, you are welcome to do so. Gifts can include cash, stocks, bonds, property, precious metals, jewelry, or other valuable items. You can also choose to leave a legacy gift for the on-going upkeep of the build through your will or trust. If you have a specific question, please don’t hesitate to contact Peter Machin, our Director of Finance and Church Operations for a confidential conversation.

The Epworth Foundation is an endowment originally created in 1947. The assets of the Foundation are divided into two segments: restricted funds and unrestricted funds. Restricted funds are carefully maintained and managed by the Foundation Trustees in order to insure that the funds are used solely for the purpose (restrictions) intended by the donor at the time of the gift. Unrestricted funds are donations that have been given to Epworth and placed in the Epworth Foundation without a designated use (unrestricted).

Both restricted and unrestricted funds are invested and managed by the Foundation Trustees using a formal investment policy intended to maximize long-term appreciation and earnings. Principle and interest of the unrestricted funds can be utilized for “capital improvements, catastrophic events, acquisition of real estate, creation of reserves for future purchases, expansion or replacement of fixed assets and to establish accounts for specific purposes, missions, acquisitions, and building management activities with the approval of the Board of Trustees and Administrative Council” (Foundation By-laws). All of the Epworth Foundation funds are reviewed annually by the church’s accounting firm.

In October of 2005, with the direction of the Administrative Council, a portion of Epworth Foundation’s unrestricted funds totaling $696,173, were used to purchase the house and land adjacent to the church. This land is known as the Wesley Property for the purpose of future expansion. At the time of the Wesley Property purchase, it was the intent of Epworth to replace the funds borrowed from the Epworth Foundation when possible. To date, a portion of the funds have been replaced leaving a balance of $553,757 yet to be replaced.

The current Vision Campaign’s objective is to raise approximately $7,500,000. 100% of the funds raised in this campaign are intended to be devoted to the proposed building project. It is possible that the Epworth may need to supplement the Vision Campaign funds raised with a mortgage to fully finance the construction project. If mortgage financing is used, it is likely that within the next 5-10 years a follow-up capital campaign will organized to pay off the remaining balance of the mortgage. At that time, it may be appropriate to earmark a portion of the funds raised to replace some or all of the money that has yet to be paid back to the Epworth Foundation.

Questions about the building

The Building Committee plan does allow for future membership growth. The improved facility is designed to take care of the majority of the anticipated congregational needs over the next 20 years. The proposed plans create multipurpose space that can be used daily for a variety of ministries and events to fulfil our vision. The proposed construction plans add an additional 20,000 square feet to our current building.

It is anticipated the Bride's Room will be in the new multipurpose meeting rooms where the current Cloister Garden is just off the Narthex. These three new rooms will also serve as spacious and expandable Adult Education rooms.

There are needs of the congregation that are broader than just those leveraging the education areas of children. This design plan fulfils needs for all members of our congregation, including new ADA restrooms near the sanctuary, an expanded Memorial Garden, enhanced facilities for junior and senior high students, and a multipurpose Family Life Center with significant improvements for Contemporary Worship, athletic events and church dinners. A new common gathering area adjacent to the Narthex for all members between services will also provide significant multipurpose meeting space for community events throughout the week.

It is anticipated the 5th and 6th grades will be relocated to the second floor where the current Sunday School rooms are located.

There will be two large ADA restrooms outside the Sanctuary where the current Lounge is located. The restrooms on the second floor in the current Sunday School wing will be remodeled and expanded. Each of the elementary classrooms will have their own restrooms. New men’s and women’s ADA restrooms are planned where the current Lounge is located adjacent to the Narthex and the Sanctuary. Additional ADA restrooms are planned in the upper Sunday School level where restrooms need to be improved and brought up to ADA standards.

Yes, there will be additional parking on the South property. Due to increased building usage and as part of the plan, more parking will be added to the south lawn of our church.

Our architect, The McKnight Group, has assisted us in estimating the annual operating (HVAC) costs of our proposed new facility. Overall, for an increase of 44% from 45,000 sq. ft. to 65,000 sq. ft., the energy cost will increase by 13%.

Questions about how Epworth will work after the successful campaign

The space we have designed will accommodate small, medium, and large groups. We will finally have flexible space that will enable us to offer all types of ministries our current facility struggles to accommodate. Following the Capital Campaign and its results, the staff and lay leadership of the church will be gathering to envision new ministries to offer once the building project is complete. In the end, we will have space to accommodate a whole host of ministries we can’t even envision today but will become reality 10 or 15 years from now. The Building Committee’s plans are to build or modify our current facilities to allow most rooms to be multi-purpose rooms that can be used for a variety of functions. This would include the Family Life Center which will be used for Contemporary Worship, athletic activities, banquets, and many other events.

With an added space for worship, concurrent worship becomes a future possibility. No final decisions concerning specific programming will be made until after the Capital Campaign. The pastors and Worship Committee will make this determination. All ideas will be welcome. Running different styles of worship services concurrently is common in most large churches today.

Pastor Doug spoke in the Vision Address about the need to partner with outside organizations like the YMCA to bring new people on our property. We have already begun this work this year. In early 2016, Pastor Doug will be gathering the laity and staff leadership for a retreat to envision a whole new set of program initiatives for the next several years that will be possible in the new space we are creating. Congregational input will be sought in this process. More details to come.