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Visions Team: Facility Updates in the Works, Architects Consulted

By John Bodine

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Our Visions Team effort has marched on through 2016 with a focus on implementing many key recommendations, while at the same time reflecting on and discerning evolving needs of our community and members. We have new energy and progress in our Children and Family programs through leadership of Chamus Burnside-Savazzini, and Mark Himel is leading engagement of visitors and potential new members with an expanded effort to “be there” and help them find a fit in our church community. At the same time work has been done to implement a new church data system, Grace Connect, which will enable members to better communicate and connect with one another. Roll out to members has begun and will progress in stages through the end of the year.

One important development that dovetails with a wonderful gift from the Glenna Holloway Estate, is recognition that some renovation of our Grace Facility might further advance our goals of presenting a more welcoming experience for visitors and providing more effective spaces for Children, Youth, and Family programs. The Glenna Holloway Gift, with a total of $1.05M in expendable funds available to Church Council, is a one-time gift, so it can’t be considered or utilized for operational expenses. Annual operational costs must still be supported by pledged contributions from our members. The Holloway Gift, however, may provide us with an opportunity to re-think and re-imagine how Grace can be better shaped and structured to meet future needs:

   • Can our Narthex be opened up to provide a brighter, broader gathering space, perhaps with extended views of the Lacy Garden?

   • Can we provide more effective children check-in and activity spaces?

   • Can we make finding one’s way around Grace more intuitive and easier, especially for visitors?

Recent discussions with area architects have stimulated ideas of new possibilities for Grace that could better position us for making our Visions Team recommendations a reality. The Grace Projects Team, formed in August of this year by Church Council to assess potential projects to be supported by the Holloway Gift, has now been authorized to engage architectural support to create a “Master Plan” that can guide and pace us a renovation effort.

Creating an Architectural Master Plan will be a 3-4 month process once an architectural firm is selected, and will involve extensive interviews with selected stakeholder groups from across the Grace community. Our culture, goals, and aspirations will be incorporated into a suite of conceptual renderings for renovating Grace that will be reviewed and refined by our members before becoming a template for future construction work.

The Grace Projects Team recognizes that accomplishing Visions Team goals cannot solely be a result of updating our building layout, but it can help propel us along the way. There are numerous other project opportunities listed for consideration by the Projects Team, some of which will proceed with funding independent of the Holloway Gift, while others will be deferred until architectural needs become clear. We will keep you informed as we progress.