The timing of the vestry and rector convening a Strategic Planning Committee last June couldn’t have been better. In the next three to four years, the Chapel of the Cross will face one of the most critical chapters in its long history. Will we be prepared? All indications are that we will be breaking ground in October on the most significant addition to the church facilities since the current sanctuary was constructed in 1925. The new addition will enhance the parish’s space for fellowship, Christian education, and administrative and support services. It comes, however, with a challenging price tag in the range of $7 million. This expansion will require additional contributions to the capital campaign and annual increases in pledge revenues of as much as 10 percent for the next several years.
Toward the end of this time frame, Stephen Elkins-Williams will reach the mandatory retirement age for Episcopal ministers. Consequently, for the first time in 30 years, the Chapel of the Cross will embark on a search process to attract a new leader to usher in a new era that will achieve the vision articulated in the new strategic plan. We are taking on these challenges at a time when membership in the Episcopal Church and attendance at traditional Christian churches across the nation is on a slow, but steady, decline. At the Chapel of the Cross, the number of pledging units has decreased by 5 percent over the last five years and revenues from pledges have increased only 1.7 percent annually during those years.
In order for the Chapel of the Cross to prosper and flourish in the years ahead as it embarks on these challenges, it must revitalize its current programming and attract additional members who are committed to realizing the vision for the church. We are structuring our Strategic Plan to address these anticipated challenges by setting specific goals in these areas and identifying strategies to meet them. Goals will be established around the major tenets incorporated in our mission statement as well as the challenges presented by facility expansion and the need for increased engagement, additional financial resources, and effective, efficient, and equitable administrative operations.
The Strategic Planning Committee is operating under an ambitious timeline that will coincide with the ground-blessing for the new facility in October. We are launching a survey today to solicit perceptions and recommendations from our members. All parishioners are asked to complete this survey by August 26. For those without Internet access, hard copies of the survey will be available before and after Sunday services and in the church office. You may also take the survey at the church on a computer in the office following services or during the week.
As the Committee progresses in its work, it will provide updates to our members. We welcome feedback on our early drafts. The Strategic Planning Committee consists of the following members: Neil Pedersen (chair), Heather Benjamin, Lukas Brun, David Dodson, Melody Savage, Nancy Tunnessen, Ted Vaden, and Walker Mabe (administrative support). All of us would be happy to hear from you about the challenges and opportunities facing Chapel of the Cross, your vision of what the church can become, and strategies for achieving goals that would support this vision.