Early Projections of Facility Transformation Plan Show Funding Source for $3M in Deferred Maintenance & Replacement Projects

Nov 8, 2021

By Erick Bevington, Chair of Buildings & Grounds Committee

Following a year and a half of a disruptive campus closure, the Buildings & Grounds Committee is very pleased to report that new income generated by the Facilities Transformation Plan (adopted in February of 2020) is capable of funding up to $3 million in deferred maintenance projects. This momentous milestone, which once felt entirely out of reach, will provide funding for major campus repairs, including replacement of our leaking slate roof, restoration of our crumbling concrete façade, replacement of our antiquated central heating plant, and a myriad of other necessities for First Church’s 107 year old campus

For over a decade I have served with a group of outstanding people on the Buildings & Grounds Committee, where we worked to adapt how we use our campus in the ever-changing world around us. Meeting at times with Di Pagel, Judy Rowan, Rose Mary Richmond, Steve Cabrera, Jerry Brosnan, Dorothy Dugger and Chris Weber, we identified that the campus can be shared as a vital community hub, expanding our church’s positive impact in Oakland while also generating much needed revenue to maintain our beautiful but expensive and aging facilities.

We also identified the need to complete $2-3 million in major repairs and restoration within the next 5-15 years. All of these projects were avoided by previous generations of this church’s leadership, as it struggled with the lack of resources to fund the massive campus on its own. A congregation of only 100 people has no buiness putting $3M into a building.

We don’t have access to $2-3 million in cash in our bank account, so we developed the Facilities Maintenance Program (FMP) in 2017. The FMP is a specially designated account, within our facilities budget, that collects money that will allow us to pay debt service on low interest loans of up to $3 million. In order for this plan to work, the FMP account needed to have $150 thousand put into it every year, for the next thirty years or so. In 2017, we started with just $30 thousand of that secured. We had work to do.

In 2020, the session ratified the Facilities Transformation Plan. This plan included a series of changes to how we operate our facilities. The main goals were to expand our positive influence in Oakland while simultaneously earning more money to put into the FMP. Smaller goals included a lot of cleaning, painting and organizing so that we coud be more welcoming. At the time this transformation plan was ratified, we were only one quarter of the way to our $150 thousand annual goal. We were hopeful that within 18 months we could get three quarters of the way there. Then Covid came.

While the campus was closed, newly appointed Interim Facility Manager, Chris Weber (who has been donating his work with us since July) and the Buildings & Grounds Committee, were hard at work implementing the plan. The campus was renovated, energy efficiency improvements were made, cost reducing operational changes were implemented, leases were renegotiated, six new community lease partnership agreements were formed, and the way we do event rentals was restructured. A lot was taking place, but the financial impacts were not visible due to the impacts of COVID and the campus closure.

At the close of the third quarter of this year, we finally have visibility into how the Facilities Transformation Plan is working, and the news is truly extraordinary. The Finance Committee and Session are starting the 2022 budgeting process, where the church’s two separate budgets, one for Church Mission Operations and a separate one for Facilities are produced and individually balanced. With this configuration, every dollar given to the church through pledges or giving is used only for the mission of the church – not to fund the building. Separately, the revenue generated by facility leases and rentals is used to maintain the campus so that it is available to house our ministry and the work of our community partners. The preliminary Facilities 2022 budget has been pulled together to incorporate newly secured leases, agreements, and confirmed expenses.

We are currently projecting $159 thousand available for the Facilities Maintenance Program. In 19 months’ time, all of which was during a highly disruptive global-pandemic, we have not only met the plan’s objectives but exceeded them. This is a truly an extraordinary milestone, and I hope you will join me, Buildings & Grounds, and the Session in celebrating it.

What the FMP and this funding gives us is stability and freedom. We have found a path to sustaining our presence and community influence here at 2619 Broadway for years to come. We can allow the campus to sustain itself and enjoy the freedom as a church to focus our efforts on our mission: Making God’s Welcome Known.