February 24, 2012
Dear Member of the Centenary Congregation,
This year Centenary will embark upon some ambitious plans that over the past two years have been the subject of much conversation, prayer and excitement. We would like to take this opportunity to share an update on two very important initiatives.
Beginning the week after Easter (April 8th), Memorial Auditorium will undergo a dramatic renovation. It will be closed for approximately three months (until the end of June). This renovation was recommended by the Board of Trustees and approved by the Church Council in 2011. We will “sound proof” this area allowing for concurrent events to take place in both the auditorium and the sanctuary. In addition, we will remove the storage areas on the west side of the auditorium and relocate them to the back end of the stage. The stage will be enhanced through refinishing of the wood floors, built-in stairs, handicapped access and improvements to the lights. A permanent wall will be added to house a state of the art console for sound, lighting and audio- visuals. A more inviting reception area will be established for those who enter our church from 4 ½ Street, which acts as our front door entrance six days a week. Additionally a handicapped ramp will be installed at the entrance and new carpet, lighting and painting is planned for the entire area. Security arrangements at the temporary entrances are being developed and will be communicated as soon as feasible.
The cost of this entire project is estimated at slightly under $1 million and through the generosity of three bequests from families in the church, it is ninety percent funded. The remainder will come from the Centenary Fund.
Second, our beloved sanctuary will also be enhanced. This work will be done in two phases. The sanctuary renovation was approved by Church Council in May 2010. Phase One of the renovation will include all the remaining elements funded from the previous capital campaign. New chandelier light fixtures will be installed in both the sanctuary and the narthex to improve the lighting. The acoustical material that covers the walls will be removed. We will also adjust and, as necessary, augment the sound system to accommodate the spoken Word, congregational singing and musical offerings. The pews in the nave and transept areas will be refinished along with the wood floors in the nave. Finally, the ceiling and the walls will be cleaned and the walls will be repaired and repainted in the current paint scheme.
Phase One will require the sanctuary to be closed for a period of three to four months. We anticipate beginning this work July 1, 2012 and concluding no later than November 30. Funding for Phase One, also priced at close to $1 million, is already half funded from the previous capital campaign. The remainder will be borrowed and eventually repaid from the next capital campaign, some time in the next year or two.
Phase Two will involve the renovation of the chancel/pulpit area. Dr. Ralls, the Facility Study Team and other church lay leadership have determined that before beginning Phase Two, a time of conversation, prayer and discernment is needed regarding possible changes. Dr. Ralls is seeking to appoint a study task force with a wide cross representation of church membership to study how we best worship and what space needs are required. It is our hope that a decision can be reached in early 2013. Until we complete our discernment process, we will not be reconfiguring the chancel/pulpit area. Before any work begins for the chancel/pulpit area, the congregation will have the opportunity to have a full understanding of the need for flexibility and liturgical use of that area.
Furthermore, the architect for the project has assured us that Phase Two can be accomplished with little, if any, additional closure of the sanctuary.
Deep reflection and deep prayer have led us to embrace these two new projects. Though they will require much patience in the short run, we believe that they support the vision for Centenary and will help support our ministry for many years to come.
If after reading this letter and the Question and Answer enclosure, you have additional questions, please feel free to contact any one of us. Join us in prayer as we move forward into these exciting times for Centenary United Methodist Church.
Yours in Christ,
W. Mark Ralls
Chair, Church Council