What's the Plan for Old First's Outreach, as envisioned in the Capital Campaign?

What's the Plan for Old First's Outreach, as envisioned in the Capital Campaign?

There is a steady build-up towards this fall’s Capital Campaign pledging phase. Though contributors will have 2015 to 2017 to complete their pledges, the activities informing and inspiring us to make a pledge will be compressed into a few weeks this fall. But we’ve already started laying the groundwork, for example, with this summer’s Hand-In events. And Geneva is heading up a group that is already working to research possibilities for renovation of the sanctuary and redesign of the chancel. (Once they are further in their work, probably with the aid of an architect, they will bring plans back to the congregation.)

People are noticing. And beginning to pay more attention. And questions are coming up. That’s great. Please ask. It means you are interested and care.

You can direct your questions to Mike Wass, the chair of the Capital Campaign. He’ll either be able to answer them; refer you to whom can; or add your question to the list of things the Capital Campaign has yet to consider.

Recently, someone asked about the portion of our $600,000. Capital Campaign that will be dedicated to the study of the future of our Outreach Ministries. The specific question was about the $90,000. for that effort, known in the Capital Campaign’s presentation as “Goal 2. Explore Options for Outreach Ministry,’ the specific question being “isn’t that a big price tag — a lot of money — for a feasibility study.

The Capital Campaign Committee generated an answer that might provide clarification for others as well, so we want to share it here:

“Goal 2. Explore Options for Outreach Ministry” is an exploratory process. The biggest question is simply, “How can Old First alleviate poverty in Philadelphia?” That’s a big order.

The principle use of funds is to hire someone part-time to drive the work. We have envisioned that this person, the selection of whom would involve a search committee and a final decision by the Elders, as with any such arrangement, would work to facilitate a discussion within the church community, the extended community of Outreach volunteers and people served, and with other churches and members of the wider Philadelphia community, particularly leaders involved in the provision of similar social services. The person hired would also be responsible for doing a lot of background work and education among us to inform those conversations. This person might also help us to assess the impact of our work as we think about how to increase our impact. Beyond the budget for this person’s salary, taxes, benefits, etc…, we also wanted a bit of money for a few events to bring all of these people together.

What are we exploring? Remember Julie’s witness in worship where she made the case for Goal 2? She explained it this way:

“You shouldn’t support the capital campaign’s second goal because Old First’s Outreach Programs have been so important to me and all those other (volunteers and service campers) in the past. You should support it because in many ways, we are doing lots of the same work we were doing 30 years ago, and the underlying issues we have been addressing have only intensified.

Just as Old First led the way as the first church in the city to open its doors to an emergency winter shelter program, we need to lead the way in addressing current issues in homelessness, poverty, and education in our city.

We have always been a congregation that takes risks, and our Outreach Ministries are poised to take the next steps in faith.

I’m not talking about just tinkering around the edges of what we already do. I’m talking about committing, the kind of commitment that required when you ‘put your money where your mouth is.’

I can tell you that it’s really hard to think outside the box when you are working like crazy every day just to keep the box from collapsing. We work really hard to maintain our current programs. We have incredibly committed volunteers and staff. We have programs that are making a tangible difference in our city.

To be able to figure out where we go from here, we must have the funds to explore the possibilities, the support we need to think outside the box.”

The timeframe for such an exploratory process has not yet been set. It will relate to the three-year timeframe of our Capital Campaign, but that three years is really about the fund-raising rather than the fund-using. The plan is to prioritize and sequence the use of funds so as to be as efficient and economical as possible (this is mainly a concern around the building work, e.g. we wouldn’t want to have to put up scaffolding twice). The exact timing of the work for Goal 2. has not been decided and will depend on, among other things, the timing of the receipt of funds. While it has not been decided exactly how long the exploratory process might take, the budget assumptions in coming up with that dollar amount foresaw a process of a few years.