We announced in both worship services last week that we had gotten word from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency that Old First House had received an award of $11,000,000 in tax credits. That with the earlier $2,500,000 grant from the city for building affordable housing means that Old First House is funded, and we can begin the final stages of the planning process.
More than that, it means we need to actually get moving towards building as the tax credits have a statutory completion date of Dec. 31, 2023, when the building must be able to be occupied. That means construction needs to begin this coming summer. And our campus will be reconfigured, and we will be settling into our new situation in time for our 300th anniversary in 2027.
It is very exciting news, of course. But begin to think of all the work we at church have to get done in a short time.
We need to move out of the Fox Building as it gets moved to the south end of our property. And move out of the CE Building as it is demolished. We need to move completely into the Sanctuary building at least until the the construction is complete. Where we will store things? Where will we find office space? The construction crew might also need office space? As will our archives. We need to figure out parking, offsite as well as accessible / nearby. And we need to evict Tony! (we think Community Ventures is going to be able to help him). We need to tell Bethesda this will be the last year of the shelter. If we still want to host service camps, we’re going to need to find space for a shower room in the Sanctuary building. And internet in the Sanctuary building, already identified as an issue for our hybrid worship, becomes more of an issue when it’s also where our office probably will be. That’s probably just the beginning. What unanticipated changes will occur for us and our ministries as we use the Sanctuary building with an active construction site right next door on the property?
Church, this is going to involve a lot of change, grace, understanding, perseverance and forgiveness. (The pastor, writing this, suddenly feels like Paul exhorting one of the young churches he founded that was experiencing its own growing pains.) But we have had some significant practice with radical change this last couple of years, and we have prospered (now I really feel like Paul!)
Let’s imagine not just the improvements this is going to make in the lives of homeless folk. Let’s remember the difference it will cause in our ministries to the homeless. And let’s be honest with all the work and sometimes hard to accept change, even difficulty ahead of us.
But let’s trust that God is in the mix with us on an opportunity like this, so that we can give thanks for the opportunities, the new perspectives, growth, resilience and transformation we can look forward to.