Fellow Members of Kenilworth Union Church,
It is our pleasure to provide an update on the initiatives concerning our Church facilities upgrades and fundraising that we began in 2018 but set aside with the onset of the pandemic.
Starting in 2018, Kenilworth Union Church launched an in-depth review of our facilities, systems, structures, ministries, and programming, reviewing the evolving needs of our congregation. We formed a team of church members with extensive experience in commercial real estate design, development, and construction, and added a highly regarded team of professionals: HKS for architecture and Bulley and Andrews for construction guidance. We then gathered input from our many constituencies in meetings with over 180 individuals (including our staff leadership, past presidents, Executive Committee, as well as leaders from Adult Education, Congregational Care, Outreach, Music, Youth, Children’s, A Joyful Noise, Fellowship, Rummage, Buildings and Grounds, AV, and Custodial) to identify in detail how each group functioned and to determine obstacles and issues they faced in trying to grow their ministries.
In addition to operational priorities, we identified the following 5 key priorities to adapt our church’s physical capabilities to serve the evolving needs of our Church:
- A Welcoming Entrance with Enhanced Accessibility and Security: For both our elderly and families with children, we want a more accessible, secure, and attractive building access from Warwick Road that provides a safer and more welcoming experience compared with the current stairs, driveway, and sidewalk drop-off.
- A New Home for Youth Ministry and Music Ministry Programs: Youth and children are the future of our Church, and music is vital to our worship and draws people to Kenilworth Union. Our youth programs operate out of the Manse, a deteriorating asset with inefficient space usage and aging mechanical systems and structure that are expensive to maintain. Our vaunted Music Ministry operates in our basement with low ceilings and sub-standard light and acoustics. We need to provide enhanced space for these ministries.
- More Secure, Flexible, and Functional Spaces for Children and Family Ministries Programs: We need better spaces to bring to life our evolving Children and Family Ministries programs that have been redesigned to provide greater intergenerational worship and learning, movement, art, technology, and collaboration.
- Improved Gathering Spaces for our Congregation: Currently, we have limited rooms to accommodate demand for multiple simultaneous gatherings. Improvements to our gathering spaces will offer more flexibility and accommodate concurrent activities to enhance our programmatic offerings and service to our members.
- Collaborative Office Space and Improved Technology: Our staff need workspace that fosters creativity, communication, and collaboration, and we need to upgrade our technology throughout our facilities for both administrative and programing purposes.
As with so many initiatives, the pandemic forced us to put on hold plans to upgrade our facilities and raise the necessary funds. At the September Annual Meeting, Meg noted we would be “dusting off” our work to see what may have changed in the wake of the pandemic. Since then, leaders from our staff and congregation have reviewed the conclusions we reached in 2019 and discussed what is different today. What has become clear is that our five strategic objectives remain the same, but some priorities have shifted. Specifically, the need for improved technology is even more pressing, while the need for more collaborative office space and additional gathering facilities is less pressing, at least for the near term. Most importantly, the pandemic reminded us how important faith, fellowship, and service are in the lives of our congregation and in our community. We all need spiritual leadership, support, inspiration, and a welcoming place to learn Christian values and grow in faith. Our Church is our spiritual home, and we believe it is time to restore and adapt our facilities for our children and for all whom Kenilworth Union Church serves.
We want to thank Ann Carey, Scott Bondurant, and Jerry James, who have already invested countless hours working to clarify the building and programmatic needs of our Church and completing the work done in 2019. Ann and Jerry bring deep planning, design, and construction experience to this process. We are blessed to have them as members of our congregation. We also want to thank Allan Bulley, also a member of our congregation, and HK Architects for the many hours they have spent helping our congregation. Ann and Jerry will join us in leading a steering committee to advance and evaluate potential improvements to the Church and Manse to achieve our ministry and programmatic goals. We will also be forming a fundraising committee.
As our work matures and we have concrete recommendations, we will engage in a variety of ways with the broader congregation to seek input and gather support. We will provide you periodic updates as we progress, and if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us or any member of the initial steering committee.
We look forward to gathering your input and are excited about the opportunities ahead to grow our ministry and fellowship in the place we love and cherish, Kenilworth Union Church.