Plymouth's FMP Steering Committee updates the congregation.
The Need for a Plan
Have you ever read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to a child? If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk, then he will need to make sure not to have a milk mustache, and when looking in your mirror, will realize he needs to trim his whiskers and will ask for scissors and more and more...
For those of you who are not familiar with the attempt to install a hearing loop, it was a mouse and cookie situation. The money was raised to put a hearing loop in the sanctuary. To install a hearing loop, we needed to pull up the carpet. If we were going to pull up the carpet, we would have to replace the carpet. If we replaced the carpet, we needed to address what was happening with the failing organ. If we were going to talk about fixing the organ, we needed to talk about where it would go. If we were going to talk about where the organ would go, we needed to address the accessibility issues in the choir loft. So, one project quickly became many. And we did not have the funding for that big of a project.
In September 2019, a working group comprised of congregational members at large and key staff started work on a light refresh project thanks to the old Mayflower Room furniture sale. They saw the need for a coordinated approach with a professional design firm to address aesthetic and accessibility updates for the building. The setback with the hearing loop happened shortly after that, and it became even clearer; if our congregation continued to care for our sacred building and space, we needed a better plan. The Church Council voted to approve a contract with Clark Huesemann (CH) on June 23, 2020, for a facilities master plan. Notice of this was sent to the congregation (along with an opportunity to do a Q&A session). CH requested a Steering Committee to serve as a focus group and guide for developing the plan. That group met with CH for the first time on August 18, 2020.
The goal of the CH work is to create a list of projects that fit together in a way that can be undertaken one at a time when financially prudent. CH established an approach to their work and determined that while the pandemic provided challenges, they would be able to invite congregational input through one-to-one interviews, surveys, and stakeholder group conversations. The Steering Committee and CH met six more times to answer a lot of questions about how the church is used, how it could be used better, and what makes Plymouth Church Plymouth Church. In doing so, CH created multiple designs for the committee to consider to solve physical issues with our building. Those issues include the following: entryways, Mayflower Room, choir spaces, youth ministry spaces, sanctuary accessibility, and more.
As a Steering Committee, we have had beautiful conversations about what it could mean to enter our church and feel the extravagant welcome that comes from a place that has stood since 1854 as a bastion for progressive Christianity. The work is not done, nor are the plans set in any kind of stone. Furthermore, the Steering Committee is not planning a major building remodel funded by an equally major capital campaign. This is a collaborative effort, and the pandemic has not allowed us to make this the in-person and collaborative process we will be moving into slowly this summer. The Steering Committee did the hard work to set the boundaries and expectations for this plan and needs the congregation's feedback to continue to put this beautiful puzzle together. The Steering Committee is happy to answer any questions as we continue to forge ahead and plan to hear from us more over the coming months!