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In the past month, our EOI project has started to come at us fast and furious.  For those who don’t know, this renovation project was approved by our membership in 2020 but for a variety of reasons, most notably Covid, progress was slow even as work continued behind the scenes by our excellent building committee.  When we finally received our phase 1 permit (in this 3-phase project), we were excited to get going.  Seeing construction crews arrive in the last month was gratifying and thrilling.  As the same time, we received an updated budget, which was reported to the congregation on February 25.

The initial budget in 2020 was $2.6 million (more like $3.1 once some additional costs were included).  The new budget number is $4.6 million.  No one is to blame for this price increase; it’s simply the reality we live in after years of crazy inflation, which has hit construction prices quite hard.  When the elders first heard of this price increase our first response was to pray.  We also realized (as we talked about it further with the Finance Team) that we had only approved borrowing up to $1.3 million dollars in 2020, so if we were going to complete the project in 2024 we were going to need to borrow up to an additional $2 million.  Therefore, we proposed a special resolution that we were to present to you at an April 7 meeting in which we were asking the membership of RRCC to authorize this borrowing.

Since then, the elders have met again and had more hard deliberation.  We learned, as you did at the AGM on March 10, that the impact to our yearly budget of borrowing $3.3 million is significant - $300,000 per year for 25 years.  Needless to say, that’s a lot.

We believe in a powerful God who can provide all things.  We also know we are asked by God to be wise with what we’re given.  How do you balance appropriately faith and wisdom?  Or, rather, how do you fully embrace both as a community as we aim to follow God together? 

The elders still believe in this project.  We believe that many of you do, too.  However, upon further conversation, reflection, and prayer, we didn’t feel good about asking for congregational approval to borrow more money until we’ve had a chance to do some more work to figure out a plan.  Part of our work coming up is another special elder meeting this coming Wednesday (we talked for 2 hours about this last Tuesday and decided not to pull an all-nighter but to meet again to discuss further).  We’ll also be meeting with a consultant to get ideas about how to raise more money for this project.

Building projects are known to be difficult for many congregations, it is our fervent prayer, genuine desire, and firm intention that we will be unified on this moving forward, as much as is possible and as the Spirit enables.

Here’s what we’re asking the congregation for:

Prayer.  We all need wisdom to handle this correctly.  The decisions we make will impact our church for decades to come.  We want them to be the best possible decisions.  “If anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God…”.  Wednesday morning & Thursday afternoon prayer.

Feedback.  How are we feeling about this?  What ideas do you have?  Aside from whispers of conversations in this hallway and that hallway the elders haven’t heard a whole lot from the church and we want to know how you’re feeling.  Email by Wednesday.  And this isn’t just if your feedback is ’no, don’t do this.’  If you’re excited about it, let us know.  April 7 meeting.

Finances.  We know that many of you made a 3-year pledge and you’ve already completed it.  Thank you so incredibly much.  We’ve already raised (about) $1.3 million (in cash and pledges)—praise God!  That shows great excitement about the project.  But if we want to do this it’s going to require more from us.  In the coming months we’ll be seeking fresh pledges - in cash, work, or other kinds of donations.  This concerted fundraising effort in the next two months is going to be critical in making decisions about what we should do.  We need to know how much money we’re able to put forward for this.  We can’t wait for our neighbour to put their money in, it’s crunch time now.  This isn’t to put guilt on you if you can’t give, or if you’ve already stretched yourself for the sake of this project.  Again, thank you.  But many of us can do more.  Some have commented that there’s a bit of a ‘wait and see’ attitude towards the project - we can’t carry that into the future.  Now is the time.

In the meantime, progress continues on phase 1.  We will likely proceed with borrowing up to $1.3 million, as was approved by the membership in 2020.  This will allow us to finish phase 1 and continue on into phase 2 as the time comes.  We anticipate that a fuller plan will be presented at the AMM on May 26 and at that time we’ll be poised to make a more informed decision than we could make on April 7.

We will continue with our plans to meet on April 7, but we won’t be asking for any vote, just a conversation about the project and where we’re at.

 We serve a big God.  We are privileged to serve Him together.  I’m really excited about where we’re at and where we’re going.  Let’s lean into what He has for us because it’s way bigger than we could ever imagine - and that’s not even about our building.  Let’s pray, trust, and discern together.  We’re at a pivotal point but I believe we can approach it with joy, no matter what comes, because our God has given us so much.