This past Sunday, I started my message with a quarterly update on our progress regarding the “Our Turn” initiative. Like last time, if you want to watch the video of what was said, we have that available online as a resource for you to use in order to stay informed. As I said during our first update in March, we will include a quarterly statement with these updates so you can track your progress based on your commitment made last year. Each update will continue to focus on two key areas of interest: giving progress and how things are developing on the construction timeline. There have been some exciting and important developments that we’ve been waiting to share with you.
Now that we are five months into the new fiscal year, we are gaining more clarity on the progress of the congregation when it comes to the subject of expanded giving. When it comes to the subject of giving, there is a lot to be optimistic about, and a few things we need everyone to pay special attention to in order to stay on track with the $2.3 million pledged during the campaign. Here is some key giving data for you to process (with commentary):
- When comparing January-May giving in 2016 vs. 2015, we are roughly $220,000 ahead of where we were this time last year (that’s essentially $44,000 more each month in contributions)
- This is good news, particularly for those whose primary contributions were coming through expanding their proportional giving by increasing their giving percentage
- The actual additional dollars given in 2016 available for the “Our Turn” initiative are $150,000 due to the increase in our operating budget from 2015 to 2016
- There were some necessary increases to the 2016 budget we had to start slowly building into the operating budget in order to be prepared for the “new reality” once we move in to a larger facility ministering to more people
- To date, we are actually $71,000 favorable on the budgeted expenses side in 2016, but some of that is due to having two open staff positions that will be filled soon
- The staff realizes that any additional dollars spent impacts our bottom line and they have done a great job of managing the tension of continuing to use money to minister to our congregation and city while being as cost-conscious as they can possibly be
- Since the beginning of the “Our Turn” initiative in December 2015, we have been able to devote $800,000 to the Sunwest Campus expansion project
- If regular or proportional giving remained at the current level, we would need to see $550,000 in “one time gifts” in order to reach the pledged amount of $2.3 million by the end of 2017
- $250,000 of the $550,000 is coming from a small group of people who are communicating with us on a regular basis on when they will be able to fulfill their commitments
The takeaway from all of this giving data is that we’re doing great on the regular contributions front. The area we need to focus on is the additional “one time” gifts that have been pledged. The earlier we can receive those gifts, the stronger position it puts us in with our lending institution. I know that some people may be waiting on bonuses at the end of the year in order to make their contributions, but for those who have a one-time gift available and can make the
contribution sooner than that, it would be helpful and beneficial to the process. I would also encourage you to communicate as much information on this front as you possibly can with Joey White (firstname.lastname@example.org), as this will help us in strategic planning as we move forward.
LENDING AND CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS
There have been some encouraging developments when it comes to the lending and construction side of the expansion project. First, we made a conclusion in April to go with Bank of the West as our lending institution and are excited about our partnership with them. They had the most competitive rates and seemed to be the most in tune with understanding where we are as a congregation and what we need from a lending partner. We are in the underwriting process, which means they’ve agreed to be our lender, but they must do their due diligence before finalizing the terms of the loan. We expect the terms to be finalized in the next month or two. You need to know that Joey White and Kelly Merritt have done a fantastic job getting everyone the information required to make a sound, informed decision on this front.
On the construction front, there are a few things worth noting. First, in April the elders officially tasked members of the congregation to help us with the construction process by creating a construction team. JD Dethrow, Stacey Smith, and Marshall Stewman are serving in this capacity for us, and we are already so grateful for their contributions. Joey and this team have bi-weekly meetings with our architects and general contractor. The construction team is also tasked with helping us identify other members of the congregation who are experts in their field that can help with the project. So far, this has included members helping with landscape design, interior design/finishings, and design of the outdoor baptistry.
Another noteworthy development on the construction front is that we have officially received the design development documents from our architect, which allows our general contractor to get a more clearly defined picture of construction costs. After receiving this bid, we will see if the scope of the project needs to be altered based on the budget we have in place.
Finally, an item worth praying for on the construction front is regarding the plans for an outdoor baptistry. The design of this feature on the building is incredibly unique, which means there aren’t a lot of other outdoor water features like it in the Waco area. There have been some concerns expressed by the city when it comes to safety regulations and our ability to make sure this feature meets all of the necessary requirements. We have a meeting with the city in the near future, at which we will talk through this aspect of the project and show them some examples of other municipalities where similar water features have been implemented. If you could keep this in your prayers, we would appreciate it. This is a feature of the original design that we loved. We want it to serve as a “front door” to the city, and it is something we are really hoping can be fully implemented.
As you can see, a lot of ground has been covered in a short amount of time by our team. Your staff, elders, and various members of the congregation have been working hard to make sure we keep this project on track and moving forward. In just a few short months, we hope to see dirt moving and visible signs of construction. Until then, please know that we are pressing forward and excited about what is in store for the days ahead!
If you missed the update on Sunday, check out the video below.