Next steps

by Pastor Carol McEntyre on September 28, 2022

Can you hear it? The buzz of conversation! It is still lingering here at the church from Sunday’s listening session.
This was the beginning of our work with Station 19 Architects and the evaluation of our building and new
dreams for the future of ministry in this place.
This is not the first time our congregation has begun this difficult task, but I believe we are at the right place to
see this through. In the last 30 years, we have had at least two separate efforts to lay out a strategic vision for
the future of our buildings and ministry needs. First, in the early to mid-1990s, a team gathered to address the
renovation in the Sanctuary including refinishing the pews, purchasing new cushions, and addressing accessibility
in the education building. That team brought forth an impressive multi-phased plan for our facility. Phase 1 of
that work resulted in constructing our elevator lobby, reshaping our entrance to the education building, and
laying the groundwork for future dreams. But the project did not move beyond phase 1.
In the late 2000s, a long-range planning team formed to revisit our facility needs and ministry directions.
Again, this team worked extensively to provide options that would update our facilities and address our needs
and concerns. Unfortunately, these plans were not pursued with the financial situation in the late 2000s and
other concerns. Shortly after I became your pastor, we picked up some of the work they had done and were
able to update our Fellowship Hall and create a beautiful space. We also got another estimate to redo the
pews in the Sanctuary, but we didn’t have any broader conversation about right-sizing the sanctuary or
connector building. Eventually, a Sanctuary refurbishment was left out of the project.
In 2018, the Church Council had several conversations about the possibility of adapting the Sanctuary to fit
our current needs, recognizing that our worshipping congregation is much smaller now than it was when the
Sanctuary was built in the 1950s. We also discussed the possibility of addressing the accessibility issue in the
Sanctuary. At that time, we were introduced to Station 19 Architects by our friends at First Baptist Jefferson
City, and members of the Church Council had a three-hour onsite exploratory meeting with them. Then, in
2019, during the church-wide All In Visioning process, the church named “explore what it would take to address
the accessibility issue in the Sanctuary” as a specific action item for the future. Finally, in 2021, when the
Child Development Center permanently closed due to the pandemic, church leaders committed to engaging
in a church-wide discussion about the future use of that space. All these conversations and realities lead the
Church Council to reach out to Station 19 this year to help. Discussions about changing sacred spaces are
challenging, and we recognize that we need help navigating what is possible and what could be. However,
I am optimistic that we can and will find a way forward. I believe that as a faith-family, we can do this work.
Next Steps with Station 19: We are collecting all the notes from the listening session on Sunday and
those sent by email and will share them with Station 19. Then, on Thursday, October 13, Station 19 will
conduct small group interviews with church leadership and staff members. We anticipate that Church Council,
trustees, children and youth ministry leaders, music ministry leadership, and others will be involved in these
interviews to help capture the life and mission of First Baptist. Following these conversations, Station 19
will create a picture of our current needs, values, and missions and ministry work. With this information, they
will create a “Vision to Serve People” that will be presented in person at a church-wide meeting
on Thursday, November 3 at 6:00 pm. At this meeting, our church family can listen, ask questions, and
provide valuable feedback on Station 19’s initial findings.

Tags: renovation, sanctuary, visioning, updating, long-range planning, station 19

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