Date Set for Charge Conference to Determine Building Addition

Posted by Union Chapel Communications Team on

Dear Friends:

 On Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at 7:00 P.M., we will be conducting a Church Conference in accordance with the Book of Discipline for the purpose of obtaining congregational approval of the proposed plan to contract for, build, and pay for a significant addition to the church building.  You are, as a member, entitled to both voice and vote, and we encourage you to attend.  Only those who are members and who are present both when the votes are cast and when the result is announced may have their votes counted.

 The purpose of this letter is to provide information to you in advance of the church conference, to invite your review of the building construction plans and the Plan of  Ministry, and to welcome your questions.  The construction plans depict every detail of the proposed addition, and the Plan of Ministry explains why the addition is essential to the future of Union Chapel as well as how it will be used over the next five, ten, and twenty years.  Both the construction plans and the Plan of Ministry are available at the church office during normal business hours and, upon request, will be made available at other times, as well.  In the event you have questions, you may ask Rev. Andy or any member of the Building Committee, but we encourage you to email or call Chuck Teague, Chair of that committee.  Chuck’s email address is   and his telephone number is (317) 908-0156.

 I.  The Cost and How to Meet It

 Because of cost-consciousness, and of concern for the ongoing financial viability of Union Chapel, the Building Committee asked the Unified Council to obtain construction plans, so that actual construction bids could be obtained from contractors hoping to perform the construction.  Additionally, when bids were requested, certain items that were strongly desirable, but not absolutely essential to the pressing needs for the building, were set out as “alternates” for separate price bidding. The bid process was completed in December 2017, and the four bidding contractors each provided a bid that was far less than the architect’s estimate of construction costs.  The two lowest bidders each provided a price that will allow not only the bare-bones building but all of the desired alternate features for around $3,500,000.

 Currently, Union Chapel holds just over $5,500,000 in deposits, including special gifts, endowments, memorials and operating accounts.  Because our giving level over the past several years has been insufficient to meet our essential budget requirements, we should not simply pay cash for the construction of the addition.  Another very important consideration is that there will be more expansion necessary in the not-too-distant future as our congregation and its ministries continue to grow and as we look for new ways and spaces in which to engage our community.  Thus, it is important to the future of the congregation to maintain a substantial portion of the current assets intact.

 Much prayer has been raised, and substantial research has been done on this issue. However, a formal plan and funding sources have not been finalized or approved by the Unified Council. The pending proposal before the Council suggests that the congregation would borrow up to 25% of the necessary building funds. This decision was based on information that our Investment Committee received from discussions with Internet Bank and Key Bank commercial lending groups.  As suggested by the District Land and Building Committee at a recent meeting, discussions will occur with the Indiana UMC Foundation in preparation for the final financial plan, which will be available for discussion at the church conference.

 Key Points:

 - The church maintains a building fund that receives “goodwill offerings” from outside individuals and local businesses that support our building mission.

-   The Unified Council will ask for individual and family donations from the congregation. This will be accomplished by an “individual ask” campaign for the building fund.

Additional funding will most likely involve a construction loan leveraged by Union Chapel's investment accounts.

 II. The Ongoing Expenses of the New Building

 With increased ministry activity over the past two years have come additional expenses.  With further ministry expansion imminent, this has indeed been a matter of deep discussion for some time. This spring, Union Chapel contracted with an outside accounting firm regarding the current and potential cost of facilities weekly/monthly and how it aligns with our current and potential giving. Based on data, we are actively pursuing the following potential options:

 - Through a serious energy program, we anticipate being able to maintain a cost­-neutral energy position for the existing as well as the new structure.

- The current boiler system will be used to heat the new addition. This month we began working with our HVAC and boiler maintenance contractor on a cost­ saving program.

- We will be taking advantage of rebate programs from IPL that will pay back for some of the planned HVAC system upgrades and improvements.

- Older lighting fixtures and appliances are currently being replaced with energy efficient fixtures.

- One of the church’s initiatives, Creation Care Ministries, focuses on being environmentally conscientious. In the spirit of this ministry, Union Chapel is actively pursuing solar as well as wind options for energy to help lower our utilities. We hope to be a model for the Nora community and surrounding businesses.

 III. Care and Use of Existing Facilities

 Union Chapel has seen a great increase in building usage in the past two years - with ministry and ministry partner activity more-than-doubling within the past 11 months. Because of this, a great deal of work has been done to make every inch of the building useful for ministry. Every available classroom is in daily use. Closets and storage spaces (even the elevator alcoves and under-stairs niches) have been cleaned and renovated to support current and near-future ministry activity.

 In response to need, the Buildings and Grounds Team began redesigning and renovating the existing facility last summer. Progress continues. Current projects include:

 - Painting and renovation of preschool hallway to address storage issues and improve the “welcome factor” for our western entrance. To comply with fire code and other ordinances, storage cabinetry is currently under construction. These attractive and versatile units will line the north wall of the hallway providing much-needed storage space for the preschool, Sunday school classes, the Indiana Fine Arts Academy, and the United Methodist Women’s organization.

- Painting and renovation of the Fellowship Hall to improve functionality, address storage issues, and provide a more current “coffeehouse feel” for the largest and busiest meeting room in the church.

- Painting and renovation of the “youth offices” to become a meeting space with a more a youth-friendly atmosphere for our growing junior youth group.

- Cleaning and painting of the former music library which will serve as a much­ needed mini-office.

 In addition, the Union Chapel Unified Council is considering creative use of non­-ministry space. 

 With regard to restrooms, the current facilities are deeply inadequate as they currently exist. Any special event that hosts one hundred or more people will routinely see lines forming at the two most accessible main floor restrooms with members directing newcomers to the basement facilities. With the building addition would come more restrooms that are handicapped accessible, a much-needed feature.

 With regard to kitchen facilities, the Unified Council believes the current kitchen and kitchenette, with perhaps minor adjustments, will be able to adequately sustain growth in ministry activity for the next 15-20 years.

 1. Growth in Discipleship

 Union Chapel has, through the Fruitful Congregation Journey process, discovered its unique vision in its pursuit of the mission to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world. Our vision is that:

 Union Chapel is a community that:
- seeks to follow- the teachings of Jesus,
- generously serves our neighborhood and our world,
- works together to care for all people.

 We believe that faithfully following this vision in everything we do will guide us to fruitfulness in discipleship. The new structure, as well as the planned renovations and upgrades of our current facilities, is entirely intended to this purpose. As a congregation, we will be equipped with a much more natural and easily identifiable portal for people to enter and to be greeted warmly and with access to information in at least three forms:

 - personal information shared by the greeters; a welcoming information center  displaying printed information

- artwork depicting the life of the church

- electronic information displays via strategically-placed monitors.

 The entryway will guide our guests toward the new, informal and naturally­ lighted gathering area where kids can ramble, coffee and juice and doughnuts can be shared (and spilled on the floor without worry) and, most importantly, whether on Sunday morning or any day of the week, our guests can be engaged and embraced. We subscribe to the understandings that we have learned through FCJ, through our discussions of Fresh Expressions and through extensive readings and seminars, that disciples are made, not in the sanctuary, but in the informal places both inside and outside the church. Because we have undertaken, successfully, a “ministry of place” for the Nora, Clearwater, and Castleton communities, we have an ever-growing, steady flow of people into the church every day. The new structure is an essential tool to our effort to engage all who come.

 On the lower level, we intend to have a large and durable space where children and youth (each in their own time) can be engaged in play and in crafts and lessons of Jesus’ love. Because we are blessed to host a preschool that currently serves more than fifty families and the Indiana Fine Arts Academy that currently serves more than eighty families, we recognize the advantage we have; our Mission In-Site demographic data also identifies our community as one of few in Central Indiana where the population of families with elementary-age children will grow over the next 5 years and beyond. We recognize the benefit of outreach to children as one of the primary tools of discipleship.

 We accept that our methodology is non-traditional; however, we also believe, firmly that, as Bob Farr has told us, all discipleship begins with relationship. We want to position ourselves for the long run, creating a safe and welcoming space where we can encounter the young and the old, families and singles, “nones” and “dones,” and provide a “soft landing spot” where we can begin to share and to teach the love of Jesus.

 In Conclusion...

 Change is hard on any long-dormant congregation. We acknowledge that with change came a “pruning of the vines.” However, we believe God’s healthy and necessary “pruning phase” has come to an end and we have enjoyed congregational stability... even a surge of attendance and membership in the past seven months. This is particularly obvious in our intergenerational and family-oriented services and programs.

 In the past 11 months, Union Chapel has seen a dramatic surge in all ministry activity. 

Illustration of Ministry growth: 2017 to 2018


Congregational and community participation has followed ... as we prayed and knew it would (dramatically evidenced by last week’s community dinner and playground dedication that fed over 150 and hosted many more). We also know, based on research and experience, that membership and financial giving tend to lag behind such a surge... but they are already growing. With innovative new children’s, family, and community-based programming coming online this fall, we are poised to spring forward even further.

Though the Union Chapel facilities and grounds have been lovingly maintained, the day-to-day reality of growing 21st Century ministry in a 20th Century facility provides challenges that are obstructive to both ministry and growth. 

The work of the Building Committee has been challenging, prayerful and, at times, has faced setbacks; however, our enthusiasm has not been dampened and we expect to forge forward toward the best prayed-for and planned-for future of  Union Chapel with congregational support.

In His service,

The Unified Council of Union Chapel United Methodist Church