The Capital Appeal Story


2017 Epiphany Lutheran Church Capital Appeal
by Carlin Heimann, Council President
Foundation and Growth
Since its humble beginnings at Dr. John Hole Elementary School in 1959, and shortly thereafter turning an apple orchard and farmhouse into a place of worship, Epiphany Lutheran Church has grown to be a place of opportunity for all those who seek a closer relationship with God. That opportunity continues to grow today through worship, education, outreach, and ministry – all supported by the physical things that enable it: two beautiful campuses with sanctuaries, classrooms, libraries, ministry rooms, gathering spaces; and yes, even garages, parking lots, vehicles, maintenance equipment…the list goes on. Our physical…”Capital”…items support everything we as a church mean to our worshipers and our community.
…and Growth
As the Epiphany family has grown over the years, building expansions have been necessary every ten years or so to keep up with its worship, education and outreach needs.  Over the past five years, we have seen steady growth in our worship attendance – up 10 % in these five years. Austin Campus worship attendance has grown these years from about 45 to over 120. It is common when 20 or more kids come up front for the children’s sermon. Add in the babes in arms, and it is not unusual to have a third of the congregation under the age of six on a given Sunday.
The recent survey and interviews conducted by Pastor Robert Driver-Bishop revealed that our congregation members want to continue to grow in ministry and outreach within the church and our community, and are overwhelmingly supportive of a capital appeal to lay the foundation for that growth.
The Capital Appeal
The idea of a Capital Appeal has its origins in the “2025 Vision” for Epiphany that the Church Council and congregation produced in 2015.  The Appeal took further shape as we looked at the physical growth required to support near and long-term membership, ministry and outreach that God has planned for us.  The recent interviews emphasized that need. 
These factors led us to four focal points for a Capital Appeal, in no particular order:
(1)  Austin Campus Expansion:  
As noted above, our Austin campus attendance has tripled in size in five years, and all indications show that growth will continue. We’ve surpassed our “comfortable limit” for attendance in the small sanctuary space. We need to expand our current worship space, and reconfigure other spaces to allow for more efficient storage, and assist in growing child care and education opportunities. This step is “phase 1” in a longer-term vision of Austin campus expansion. The estimated cost of near-term expansion is $400,000.
(2)  Outdoor Worship/Event Space and Memorial Gardens:         
Our outdoor worship space at Far Hills has allowed for Summer outdoor worship for years, but it can be so much more. A covered, landscaped worship/event setting presents opportunities for ministry, outreach, and congregation fellowship not possible today: worship without weather cancellations, weddings, charity concerts, drama ministry, social gatherings…with built-in storage space and audio/video capability…the possibilities are endless.
The idea for a memorial garden started over eight years ago with a vision to honor the saints who from their labors rest by providing a space for their final resting place. There remains today significant support to realize that vision. The estimated cost of the worship/event space and memorial gardens is $450,000.
(3) Major Maintenance Items:
Our operating budget covers ongoing minor maintenance of our existing facilities, but we have an urgent need to address larger maintenance items, to include Far Hills sanctuary and preschool/day care heating and air conditioning, celebration center carpeting replacement, heating units for the downstairs entry area, parking lot maintenance at both campuses, and others. Estimated cost of these items is $200,000.
(4) Mortgage Debt Reduction:
Today, we still carry $2.9 million of mortgage debt for both of our campuses. Our operating budget covers a portion of the mortgage payments, but has been supplemented by funds from the 2009 Capital Campaign.  Those funds are about to run out. Drawing down this debt will enable the church to free up resources for opportunities such as programming, ministries, facilities, and staffing as we continue down God’s path for us.
Appeal Funding
We are fortunate to have two existing sources of funds to energize our capital appeal.  The sale of the Far Hills Shoppes is imminent, and we expect to see proceeds of approximately $500,000.  Additionally, even before the appeal has begun we have received interest from a family member who wants to give a significant memorial gift toward the appeal.  Once Appeal pledges have been completed, the Council and pastors will develop a spending plan to present to the congregation for approval.
Path Forward           
In late March, we will have two kickoff events; one each at Far Hills and Austin campuses.  The entirety of the Capital Appeal will be discussed in detail, to include presentations by the architects for the Austin campus expansion and the outdoor worship/event space and memorial garden.  These events will be followed by smaller gatherings to answer any questions you have about the direction God is leading us and the role the Capital Appeal plays in that path.  Please look for details on those events in coming weeks.
A Summary Message to the Congregation
As a member of the Epiphany Lutheran Church family, your participation is vitally important, for we are not simply adding on to the building and doing some repairs and paying some bills. What we are doing is so much more. We are building up the Kingdom of God. We are building a place where the Good News of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, and where we can work together to serve those in need. You are member of the body of Christ, and a vitally important part of it (1 Corinthians 12).  Now the time has come to move forward into God’s vision for us – to show the community that we are stronger than ever, carrying on the mission and ministry the faithful ones who have come before us started and nurtured.
Please prayerfully consider your participation in this Capital Appeal.  With God, all things are possible. Together, with God’s help and guidance, we can accomplish great things! 

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