1. How will a larger sanctuary best support the mission of Asbury United Methodist Church?
For the past three years, we have consistently reached a point where the Sanctuary is full or near capacity on Sunday mornings at the 11:00 service. During those times, we have made space available for overflow by opening the CLC and broadcasting the service into the gym. This “overflow” scenario is a short-term solution at best, and has been a recurring issue at Asbury for much longer than the past three years. To successfully continue to achieve our mission, which states in part, “to remain challenged and equipped to grow more disciples for Jesus Christ” we simply must have more seating to accommodate a growing community of followers. Several key actions that resulted from our 2012 strategic planning process included additional ushers, a more welcoming parking process, new choir opportunities, more pastoral staff as well as other support staff needed to accommodate a greater number of people. A key action item within our strategic plan includes additional worship space to support our growing congregation.
2. If we build a new Sanctuary, what happens to our current Sanctuary?
Some of the space at the rear will be repurposed as meeting space. We will retain the bulk of the space as a 400+/- seat gathering space which should become the permanent venue for the Bridge, our contemporary worship offering, and will be available for other uses including Sunday night services/meetings, Wednesday night educational opportunities, larger space for children/youth special events and, of course, weddings and musical performances.
3. What about our current debt of $871,664?
This debt started at over $7,000,000. We have decreased it by $1,692,387 in the last three years. At the rate of paying at least $384,000 per year, it will be paid in full by the end of 2017. This would allow Asbury to open the doors of a new Sanctuary with the final debt payment on our existing mortgage.
4. How much debt would we incur for new construction?
We need to raise $14,000,000. We understand that we may not be able to raise the full amount initially. We are prepared to take on some debt to undertake this much needed project. For example, if we raise only $8,000,000, then we will borrow $6,000,000 to be paid off in approximately five years.
5. Is there a point that a church can become too large and impersonal?
Asbury will continue to focus on our core principles of welcoming all. The proposed new seating in the new Sanctuary is 1,200 to 1,600 (depending upon how much money is raised through this campaign) and will allow a larger group of people to benefit from and engage in a worship service each Sunday without being sent to the gym to watch a screen. We have found that can be very impersonal. As a church that values participation during the worship hour, a larger Sanctuary will allow for more people to participate as one unified body – be it through passing of the peace, singing the hymns or during Holy Communion. This unified experience, we believe, will generate an inclusive, personal feeling of being connected to others and to Christ.
6. Is this project a good use of money for God’s overall plan?
We believe in opening our doors to this community. We believe that worship is critical, formative experience in the life of faith. We believe that passionate worship should not be limited to those who can arrive early and beat the crowd – and, in fact, should not be limited at all. We believe the Great Commission calls us to act.
7. Why now?
God continues to bless this church – so much so that we consistently run out of worship seating. Asbury is uniquely situated to be able to reach out to those who have not found a church, who are looking for a place to feel welcome, and who want to be a part of a positive, growing spiritual group who recognizes the value of tradition yet welcomes fresh ideas. With the finances and attendance at Asbury on an extended upward trend, the land in place to build a new facility, current low interest rates, a growing children’s and youth program, and the desire and skills of our current preacher to lead Asbury in its growth, we are in a healthy place to take a responsible and faithful step forward.
8. We have been a unique church for Shelby County, Alabama – an inclusive, mainline, traditional church with a welcoming approach to new ideas and people. Will that change?
This project is not about “change.” Asbury is not seeking to be something different. Asbury is seeking to serve better. We simply want to be able to welcome the people God brings to this community for worship. New facilities will help us to better worship, disciple, serve and fulfill our calling. In some ways, our congregation is already changing. We continue to attract young families with young children. We will need space to continue to minister to them. We are the only large church in our area that is a traditional church with a contemporary option for worship. We are surrounded by large contemporary churches with few traditional options for worship.
9. Why not build a balcony in our current sanctuary?
Structurally, the addition of a balcony must be made before the foundation of a building is laid. Our existing facility was not built to accept or support a balcony. Additionally, a balcony does not address the need for other spaces, such as ministry space for our children and youth.
10. What is the plan?
The REACH campaign will continue until the end of the year. We will assess the financial commitments we have received and begin the phase of fine tuning the building plans by forming a building committee to meet with staff and congregation leaders to analyze in detail the specifics of what we need to build now. We will determine the final floor plan of what spaces will be designed and how the new building will complement the existing structure and where we need to alter some existing spaces. We will also look at the long range plan and assign projected or deferred needs to future phases. We will carefully coordinate the expansion of parking capacity based on the impact of the actual construction as it progresses. The building committee will need time to accomplish all of this analysis and to communicate our needs with the architect. We anticipate breaking ground as early as possible in 2016.
11. What Is Included In the $14 Million?
A. 29,730 square feet of additional space for such uses as:
- More children, youth and adult ministry space
- Choir and music rehearsal space
- Administrative and office space
B. 35,000 square feet of worship space (1,200 seats on the main level + 200 seats in a balcony (unfinished initially)
C. Additional parking (338 spaces) [we currently have 386 spaces]
D. New athletic fields
E. Renovation of current sanctuary, choir room and offices
F. An organ!
12. What if our senior pastor is moved before we finish this undertaking?
That is always a concern within the United Methodist clergy appointment system, but we will quote from Pastor Kip’s REACH kick-off message,
“I would not undertake this campaign, if I did not expect to see it through to completion.” and “If I put in all of the work of building this new facility, I definitely want to preach in it.”
13. What will be the affect of the new building on our operating budget?
The new facility will add an additional $460,000 to our annual operating budget. The greatest portion of this increase will be in utilities and in custodial/cleaning. We project the initial staff increase will consist of a single facility maintenance staff person.
14. What happens to money already given to the Reach campaign if the 6 million dollars is not pledged?
While we are confident that we will reach our goal, we do have plans that will allow us to “phase in” the new facility. This will provide the much needed sanctuary space initially and will defer some of the other needs until we are able to financially address them. The original target of $14 million was a preliminary estimate. By mid-January, our architect should have sufficient plans prepared that will allow us to obtain a more definitive cost estimate. We may find that our original target for pledges and financing can be reduced.
While we are confident we will be able to move forward with an expanded facility in 2016, here is what would happen if the project were to be canceled altogether. Each donor will be contacted to determine his or her desired use of the funds. These uses fall into three broad categories:
1. Funds returned to donor
2. Funds held in escrow for a future building
3. Funds used for another purpose – typically another capital project.
Again, we are still optimistic that we will be proceeding with our new facility in 2016.
Watch for more information and updates at reach.asburyonline.org.
“Without God we cannot. Without us God will not.” – St. Augustine