Capital Campaign Progress and Next Steps

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, the Chair of the Capital Campaign to raise funding for the preservation of the Sanctuary, Caroline Jacobus, provided the following report and invitation to the congregation:

A few Sundays ago, on what Rev. Soukup called “Mothering Sunday” – we were all asked to think back to what each of us considered to be our “first” church, the church in which we grew from a toddler to a child, perhaps from a child to a teenager, the church where we first heard the stories about Jesus and God’s plan for His people. I would ask you to remember more – to remember what you did within those church walls and classrooms and sanctuaries. I remember making little plaster figurines at Christmas time for my own personal creche. That was 3rd grade in Sunday School. Do you remember hearing the stories in Sunday School about how angry God was because of his disappointment with the Israelites, but then His forgiving them. That was a helpful message in my childhood. I remember Youth Fellowship meetings and parties, ski trips and even plays we used to put on. Lots of fun. That’s how I met my husband. But I remember other things – the visiting pastor from Africa who stayed with our church, the annual musical that our parents wrote and put on as a fundraiser to pay for needed community services, the challenging issues we, as teenagers, were asked to consider. YOU remember other activities from YOUR early church years. Most of them took place within the walls of the church. At FCC Bristol, we gather in this building not only to hear God’s message on Sundays, but to make music at Saturday night Coffee Houses, to show films, to share our lives with each other at Fellowship Hour or potlucks, to raise funding through Craft Fairs, Bazaars, Cookie Walks. All of these experiences take place because we, the people who ARE this church, have a HOME, a place to make things happen. We have these walls – these windows. Even this ceiling with its flakey paint.

As a relative newcomer to FCC Bristol, I can honestly say that I am a bit in awe of all of you. Numbering over 100 parishioners, you not only carry out all of these activities and events each year, each month and each week. But when the need arises – when rotten sills are discovered, when the 2-foot thick stone walls slowly sink and the plaster cracks, or the massive sanctuary windows dry out with age and the glass panes start falling out, you raise your hands, roll up your sleeves, dig into your pockets, create your Action Plan, and get the job done. In the early 2000s, major structural deterioration of the sanctuary foundations and other major building challenges jump-started a $1.2M effort to keep the church from falling down. You built new foundations and a new basement, repaired the bell tower, roofs, gutters, plumbing, repaired the DeWolf Room acoustics, put in new landscaping, made upgrades to the Wardwell Room and the Sunday School wing, upgraded electrics and so much more, both at the church and the Guiteras House. In 2019, the Narthex project raised an additional $20,000 to make repairs to the tile flooring, plumbing, plaster, and painting, and to add beautiful new lighting fixtures. In 2021, we launched the Capital Campaign to preserve the windows in the sanctuary. Since then, the church – led by our Facilities Committee, has tackled repairs and replacements of the Sunday School and Guiteras roofs, new audio-video systems, electronic and plumbing upgrades, and the creation of the rental unit on the second floor of the Guiteras House which is currently bringing in monthly long-term income.

I am here this morning to report on the progress of the most recent Capital Campaign, focusing on the preservation of the Sanctuary windows. Starting in 2021, the church has raised funding totaling $147,400, primarily through pledges and grants, and contracted with New Outlook Historic Window Restoration, to cover the cost of preserving the windows on the South facade of the sanctuary. These were by far the most damaged windows. These windows are now back to their original state, including the ability to be opened! With these restorations, including tight-fitting etched glass panes, we will no longer have uninvited winter breezes blowing into the building. This should lower our heating costs in addition to looking beautiful.

Today I am not only reporting on what has been accomplished in our most recent capital effort, but the Church Council, the Sanctuary Construction Committee and the Capital Campaign Committee want to hear from you what you think the next steps should be. We would like you to freely share your views on what you believe the church’s priorities should be and what you want from the church. This moment is a particularly auspicious one for our church, because in 6 years FCC Bristol will be celebrating its 350th anniversary, just as the Town of Bristol will be celebrating its 350th anniversary – since the town’s founding in 1680 was only made possible because of the founding of FCC Bristol. We hope that our church – and our sanctuary – will be playing a major role in these municipal celebrations. We will be playing our part, as we have throughout the past 350 years, fulfilling our mission to the wider community. Toward this end, the Council, Sanctuary Construction Committee and Capital Campaign Committee are inviting everyone to two congregational gatherings. The first will be next Saturday morning, April 13, in the DeWolf Room from 10:00am to 12:30pm and the second will be Saturday morning, May 4, from 10:00am- 12:00noon. These will provide an opportunity for you to share your views on what about FCC is important to you, what new missions may be needed, and what the next steps should be. Refreshments will be provided. We’ll be sending out a MailChimp reminder. If you aren’t sure if the Church Office has your email address, would you see me after church so that I can get your best email address. Thank you.

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