Your Session sat for its regular monthly meeting earlier this week.
We finally reached a decision on the plaza after months of study, discernment and deliberation.
To recap, the plaza is the hardscaped area in front of the church that faces Virginia Avenue. It’s an irregularly shaped space and a blind spot exists in the corner where trash, broken glass, needles, human waste, and other items have been deposited for years. Church staff has had the daily chore of cleaning this area. Because it’s hidden from view, it’s also a safety and security hazard that we want to remedy.
The simplest and most effective solution is to extend our current perimeter fence with gates that can be locked after hours. Unfortunately, it’s also an expensive solution. There are also concerns that more fencing might be seen as creating a barrier between the church and the community, and that it feels at odds with our desire to be an open, welcoming space for all.
Faced with a large but necessary unbudgeted expense, last year the Session commissioned a task force to study – with the expenditure of perhaps a little more money – a larger project that, besides a fence and gate, would improve the aesthetics of the plaza or create more church program space. Collaborating with the original church architect, the task force ultimately determined that nothing more could be done without addingsubstantially (in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars) more cost.
The Session voted this week to commit a firm budget – larger than the original fence and gate, but less than any of the other proposals — to this project. We will address the hygiene, safety and security problems first, and if budget remains, apply it to making this space a welcoming, inviting space that better communicates the mission and ministry of our church. As final plans are drawn, we look forward to sharing and discussing them with the congregation. In the meantime, please feel free to bring any questions to any Session member.
This is a solution, we realize, that will likely not fully satisfy anyone, but is our best attempt at Solomon’s prescription to “divide the baby in two.”
Thanks for reading. See you next month.