Dear Hope United Family,
An exciting opportunity awaits us. In less than two weeks we will be asked to embark on a prayer filled mission into the future. This past Sunday, David Rea laid out a blueprint to the future, along with rationales. Following the meeting, we had a chance to articulate concerns and ask questions. These are being tabulated and addressed this week. This Sunday, following worship, we will answer the questions and concerns presented last Sunday, and pray for God's guidance. I am thrilled that two people came forward, following last Sunday's meeting, volunteering to be part of revitalizing Hope United. There is room for you as well.
Attached is a synopsis of David’s presentation to the congregation. Feel free to write back with questions or come to church this Sunday for the answers to earlier submitted questions.
In Christ’s Service,
Last Sunday, August 12, 2018, a congregational meeting was held to describe a plan for the future of Hope United Presbyterian Church. Substantial damage from Hurricane Irma has caused the Session to consider whether to repair all damage and stay at the current location or consider re-locating. After several months of study by the Session and two task teams, Session has proposed a plan to begin sale of the property and search for a new location in or near the village of Estero. In the meantime, we will doing sufficient repairs to assure safety and security so that we can stay at the existing facilities for another 1-2 years. A vote on this plan will take place at a congregational meeting on Sunday, August 26, 2018. More details on this plan and the need for it are covered in the rest of this letter and summarized in the enclosure.
Irma did about $175,000 of damage to our fifty-year-old facility. We have not received an insurance check nearly one year later even though working with an attorney and others. In any event, we have about $65,000 of deductibles that we would first have to pay no matter what. This challenge caused the Session and two task teams (people and facilities) to consider alternatives for the future.
The peoples team established that about 75% of the Hope membership comes from Estero, which is not served by a PCUSA church. Should we elect to re-locate, in or near Estero, it will not only be a good fit for our current membership, but also attract new members from a rapidly growing area in Southwest Florida. We also know that despite our best efforts we have not been able to grow for many years in the present location. No matter where we move, we will still be able to support the San Carlos community.
On the facilities side, minimal costs required to stay here for a year or two and make the facility safe and secure are about $35,000, and the Session has voted to spend the $35,000. Twenty thousand will come from disaster funds supplied by PDA and others. Fifteen thousand will be taken from our capital reserve of $62,000. Repairs are underway, but please keep in mind that even when repaired, our 50-year old facility requires increasing expenses to maintain, a major challenge to our budget. The fact is that in many ways, these facilities do not meet our needs for today or support growth in the future. We worshiped in a rapidly deteriorating facility even before Irma damage. There is inadequate office space for pastor and secretary. There are no rooms for Bible study or a potential Sunday school and no place for child care. The kitchen facility is not really workable for fellowship or community dining. And as stated before our location has not been conducive to growth of the church for years.
Considering sale of the property, after interviewing candidates, we have hired a professional commercial appraiser to establish value. Next, again after interviews, we plan to hire a commercial realtor to quietly sell the property as is. We have some very rough estimates that the land may be worth a few million dollars, but this work will both establish value and begin the sale process. To authorize the sale process, both the approval of the Hope membership as well as approval by Peace River Presbytery must be obtained. After authorization for sale, we don’t know how long the actual sale will take and that’s why we must have this facility useful for the near future. Funds for the appraisal and sale work will be taken from our capital reserve of $62,000. Funds from an actual sale may be used for a new site. Once progress toward a sale is further along, we can begin to get more specific about locations and facility designs.
As we are beginning to work on the sale of the property, we will also want to begin to develop specifics for our current needs as well as needs that support future growth. Additionally, we will begin the search for a new location in or near Estero. Other than planning, none of the actual work will begin until funds from the sale of this land are better defined. In the interim, we must be sure that we have developed a solid plan. Suggestions for any possible new locations are welcome as well as your ideas on defining the important needs that we should address in a new or modified facility. We would also invite anyone who would like more of a role in any part of this process to speak to any of the Session members. We would especially encourage you to pray about the future of our church as we seek God’s direction.
A year ago, none of us expected to be facing this situation. But God has given us a challenge, and many of us believe it is an opportunity to serve and witness for Christ in this community. In fact, many of us believe strongly that it is important that we continue as a church bringing a family-style, participation-encouraged, fellowship-intensive, mission-oriented ministry to those who want that kind of church. Your continued support and prayers as we embark on this journey are so very, very important. And remember, we are at the beginning of this path with many uncertainties and unknowns ahead, but the Session is committed to staying in touch and communicating our progress and challenges as we go. As you have comments, reactions, questions, please send them to the church office so that we can gather the feedback for sharing with the Session and then respond.
In service to Christ,
Session Members, 2018