Comments submitted by members of the congregation to Dianne Maia - Holy Cross Autumn 2018

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Comments submitted by members of the congregation to Dianne Maia

Congregational Meeting November 2018
Submitted by Dianne Maia
Is God Speaking To Us

We all know that God works in mysterious ways, and proof of that, for me, is that I ended up as Chair of Council, which is a role that I never wanted ... and yet here I am. How did that happen? Well, the reason I accepted this position is because I asked God for His guidance in making this important decision and He spoke to me through prayer, so I accepted even though I really didn't agree with the wisdom of this decision. But I did what I believed God wanted me to do.

I mention the confusion of decision-making only because I firmly believe that God's hand has touched Holy Cross in the past few months and given us a mystery or dilemma to figure out. We now must decide what to do with the other to purchase our church, what does God want us to do? There is no easy answer! Why ... because there are valid resasons to sell and not to sell. Im sure we are all experiencing anxiety about Holy Cross' future, no matter which directionwe think we should go. This is a time for prayer, a time to open our hearts and minds, and listen to God speaking to us. If we trust what He is telling us, trust that He will point us in the right direction, then our fears and anxiety will be reduced or disappear.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ. Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7

"Anxiety weighs down the human heart." - Proverbs 12:25

Whatever the vote decision will be, Council is committed to plan for the future of Holy Cross, exploring many and diverse options to help our Congregational family move forward. Personally, I have experienced that we must pay attention to God's signs and to scripture and, then, we are more likely to do God's will. God bless each of youas you deliberate your decision.
Submitted by Bill Kuehnbaum
The Decision
At the congregational meeting on November 11, 2018 Holy Cross members will decide if they want to sell our property and use the next 2 years to reconfigure the congregation.  The alternative is to put off reconfiguration until some future date.  
The church council has distributed material to help members decide which option they prefer. There is a current situation document that describes the current state of Holy Cross.  Another document outlines considerations – the pros and cons of reconfiguring now versus in the future.
Three Groups
I suspect members fall in to three distinct groups.
Group 1: The Continue-Forever Group
This group sees the congregation as having been viable for the past 60 years and will continue to be viable.  The money to hire a pastor, office assistant and music director will always be there.  The funds to maintain the building and our current programs will always show up.  The volunteers needed to function will always be found.  Sunday morning worship with 40 or 45 people meets their needs.
Those who have this assessment of Holy Cross’ future would have no reason to vote to reconfigure the congregation either now or in the future.
Group 2: The Don’t-Sell-Until-We-Know-What-We-Will-Do-as-a-Congregation Group
This group looks into the future and recognizes that financial resources and volunteer numbers will inevitably decline until we are no longer viable.  They know in their hearts that selling is not far over the horizon but do not want to commit to selling until we know what the reconfigured congregation would look like.  They are confident that we have the people and financial capacity to make such a decision over the next few years.  Once we have decided, we can list the property in full knowledge of what our post-sale future will be.
This group would vote against the sale of the property at this time.
Group 3: The Sell-Now-With-a-Good-Offer-and-Use-the-Next-Two-Years-to-Plan Group
This group sees the same future for Holy Cross as Group 2.  But they have no confidence that we will actually make the hard decisions about the future until we are forced to.  Only the pressure that we have to be out in 2 years’ time will overcome our reluctance to make hard decisions or our nature to procrastinate.  They fear we will wither from declining attendance and finances until we can no longer afford a pastor.  They see the proceeds of a sale as giving us many reconfiguration options and a greatly expanded ministry.  They are uncertain about the future value of the property if zoning or flood plain changes are made.
This group would vote for finalizing a sale now with a 2-year reconfiguration period.
My View
I think Holy Cross has a limited future life.  Bishop Pryce has persuaded me that the traditional style of doing church that I have known since childhood is not sustainable.  Many churches built in the 1960’s are in the same situation.  The numbers on Sunday morning tell a convincing story.
I would like to be in Group 2, it is a sensible place to be.  But my experience with church decision making has me doubting our capacity to make the what-will-we-do-when-we-close decision until we are forced to.  In my 8 years at Holy Cross there have been many future planning exercises which produced little other than a wish for more members.  I have seen 3 Hamilton churches talk for more than a decade about planning their future with no progress.  Only when one congregation accepted an offer of sale did real planning for reconfiguration happen.
Therefore, I find myself in Group 3 and think we should proceed with finding a buyer.
I think the assets of Holy Cross Burlington could be redeployed to greatly expand ministry and we should do the reconfiguration work now that the opportunity is upon us.
Submitted by Nan Roeder
I appreciate the opportunity to have my submission distributed to the congregation and added to the “comments” page on the church website.
I was pleased to read this week that council has met with consultants from the Toronto United Church Conference.  I only wish this had been done before entering into discussion of the sale of the property.  The future of the congregation, not the sale of the property should be our priority.
Would two years after a sale be sufficient to thoroughly discuss the many issues that come with relocation or reorganization?  Maybe, maybe not but I would prefer to err on the side of caution and take time to ensure we make the best decision possible.  There is no question that this property will sell whether it be now or later so why is their such a rush to do it now.  Selling the property should be the least of our concerns.  We are not yet in dire financial straits which affords us the time needed for thoughtful planning and discussion.  Immediate sale may eliminate  two of our possibilities; amalgamation with another congregation which may choose to worship here or sharing this facility with another organization.  Investigation of these prospects will take time.  Let’s be sure we have that time.
To my mind we have put the cart before the horse.  The future of the congregation should take precedence over the sale of the property  It boggles my mind that we have approached such and important decision in such a divisive way.
Submitted by Sheila Oehm
This is a really tough time for you Dianne as our council chair but we are very lucky to have such a level headed person to lead us.

I am in full agreement with Patti. Why would we even consider approaching someone to put our church on the market when we do such good community services. $4.5 million is in my opinion a steal for a developer considering the value of just one house across from Holy Cross. Has anyone considered having the property evaluated? This should be done well ahead of our November meeting.

I think having a meeting on November 11 to expect the congregation to vote on this very emotional decision right then and there is WRONG. Have a meeting soon with full disclosure of (actual property value) and a consensus of how the congregation truly feels and then ask for a vote on November 11 when people have had time to digest the information. It really is quite simple. A meeting without all this information is just another platform for an extensive useless discussion and or argument which just divides our small congregation.

I know and understand that we are an aging congregation but unless we have a good reason for selling (which we do not appear to) we should as a church family be able to continue worshipping together in a familiar location.

Submitted by Sheila Oehm

Submitted by Patti Eix
I will be voting against the motion on November 11.
While $4.5 million is a lot of money – I feel that we are not asking enough.
Yes – we could do a lot with that amount of money but we already do a whole lot with a lot less.
  • We would displace all the AA groups that depend on us
  • We would no longer have a Community Garden
  • Good Food Box???
  • What about commitment to the environment?
  • Girl Guides?
As the congregation ages (me too) where are we going to get the bodies to do all this new cool stuff?
If we were to sell,  the heart and soul of Holy Cross would be broken.
Patti Eix
Submitted by Bill Kuehnbaum
Does selling Holy Cross’ property Holy Cross mean Holy Cross disbands?
Not in my opinion!  The people of Holy Cross could remain a congregation without the property.
Consider what the annual earnings (e.g. interest) on $4.5 million could do.
Long term space which we could configure to match our needs is available for rent in different types of Burlington malls.  We could exactly replace the space currently occupied by the worship area, narthex, offices, kitchen, meeting rooms, fellowship hall and washrooms - all on a single level.
We could duplicate the current worship area if we wanted - right down to exactly the same dimensions. The stained-glass windows could be part of one wall.  We could have the same pews, organ, piano, altar, lecterns and flooring we now have.  We could even add space for instruments.
Selling the property does not mean we must lose the space current programs need.

So why not just keep our current space and avoid the hassle of moving?
The answer:  To greatly expand our ministry.
Doing the math:
Income: Estimate the annual earnings on the sale price to be $200 000/year.
Costs:  Estimate the rental costs to replace our space to be $100 000/year.
This would give us an extra $100 000/year to expand our ministry.  And this is not counting the fact that we would not be spending any offering money on a building and grounds. We now spend about $28 000/year for upkeep and maintenance.

What could we do with the extra $100 000?
Apply it to “in ministry for others”.  The only limit is our imagination.  Among other things we could hire a full-time membership recruitment director, or a youth worker, or a parish nurse. Or we could fund a homeless shelter, or fund a school nutrition program, or sponsor a refugee family every year or adopt a growing Lutheran congregation in another part of the world or ......

We would have real resources to, as Bishop Pryse often says, “do church differently”.

Selling the property does not necessarily mean the end of the congregation.  It could mean the renewal of the congregation in a whole new form.

Submitted by George Pennie
I was very surprised that the council is again bringing up the receipt of an offer to sell the church.

Selling the church means that we disband since if we can not make it go in this location, how do we expect to survive in another location.

I have kept mentioning that the church needs a finance committee. The pastor should not be involved in any negotiations. We have a number of excellent members to be the advisors to the congregation.

The amount of the offer should not have an effect of encouraging selling. If we were to sell the asking price should be $6 Million. to-day.

Holy Cross is in good financial health and being on a main artery of the city has opportunities to serve the community, which is being done. We must look to the future with a positive outlook and when the time comes if we can no longer keep up the high expenses, there are ways to cut expenses to match the budget. The first thing that has to be done is hold a meeting and have the congregation decide the future.

Alternative Mission if we decide to sell
For 15 years I was on the Missions committee of the Lutheran Church in America as a member of the Canada Synod. I purchased the properties in Eastern Canada for mission development. For 30 years I was on the board of Inter Faith Homes. And we developped 1500 housing units under the then government program.
I was one of the originators of St. Lukes Close in Burlington which has 56 seniors units.

In 2018 there is a very poor Government Program to develop new housing units.

If the church sold the present property and received the proceeds of the sale that is one half of developing a seniors building.
In Inter Faith Homes we worked with congregations who had excess lands, and developed the project. In Toronto I was an originator where we developed a new church which is adjacent to the senior's home. Our finance committee before we sell would seek a partner church who has excess land, and if the property is zoned for multiple units a joing committee would be developed to study the proposal further.

Our property will never depreciate in this location with the added flood property for landscaping. We do not have to sell now, but the joint senior's project is an alternative in the future.

George Pennie August 7 2018

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