As a part of Jesse Garner’s legacy to leave First Church in the best position possible as we transition to Baron’s leadership, the Session hired an architectural and engineering consultant team to do a Facilities Assessment of our building.  This assessment looked at all aspects of the building – façade, roofing, mechanical systems, windows & doors, finishes, etc.  This comprehensive assessment makes recommendations for when replacement and repair of building parts and systems will be required, all in 5, 10, 15, and 20 year plans.  Each line item comes with an associated estimate of cost so that this tool can both guide schedule and capital planning.

If you’ve been a part of the First Church family for six or more years, you’ll remember that we’ve been through a series of building projects recently.  A Facilities Assessment report in 2008 alerted us to both deteriorating façade conditions and to code deficiencies because our basement was not protected by a fire sprinkler system.  The first repairs, started in 2010, were to address emergency repairs to roofing and masonry.  The next repairs and renovations (what we all remember as those included in the Preserving First Capital Campaign) installed a sprinkler system throughout the basement, provided for a larger, modern elevator, and rearranged rooms to upgrade bathrooms and offices.  This project also updated flooring materials, freshened up paint and lighting, and touched other parts of the building (boilers, electrical, etc.) that most people will never see.  It is the building that we all see today, and we are grateful for the upgrades that were made.

The Session and Trustees have been aware that these projects did not fully address everything that would need to be done to the building, but these projects did take care of the required work at the time.  We are now in another stage of required maintenance. The most pressing projects include masonry restoration, the replacement of an existing boiler, and roofing repairs. The cost for these repairs is estimated at $1.6 million, including the design fees and contingency funds.  We have also included funds for other items in the 1-5 year plan in this budget.   A list of Questions and Answers is provided to give you a better overview of the scope of the work and why we are doing it.

The Stewardship and Budget Committee of the Session would like to remind the congregation how fortunate we are as a church to be able to be good stewards of our building.  Across Philadelphia and beyond, places of worship are falling into decline and literally falling apart because church attendance and budgets are not able to sustain these old buildings.  We may be smaller and leaner than in previous years, but we have the amazing opportunity to continue to be proactive in maintaining our building.  We have the resources to support this effort, and we owe it to ourselves and our future congregation of First Church to continue being good stewards of our well-loved and cherished building.

Heather Coyne, Phil McMunigal, and Craig Boddorff
FAMP and Budget & Stewardship Teams