Building for the Journey Ahead
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.
The Congregation of The First Church in Wenham, together with ministers Rev. Mike Duda and Rev. Christine Hribar, is undertaking an important restoration of its facilities. The historical and quintessential church in the heart of Wenham is a peaceful sanctuary, home to over 400 members. It is also an important community treasure, serving as a gathering place for community events as well as religious services. We invite the congregation, community members and friends to learn about our project through the links on this page, and join our enthusiasm for the building restoration that will include a large gracious fellowship hall, renovated classroom and gathering spaces, and lovely chapel with a memorial garden. We welcome your participation and support in Building for the Journey Ahead: A Campaign for The First Church in Wenham.
First Church in Wenham has been “the community” church of Wenham since it was founded in 1644. Like a light on a hill the first meeting house was, in fact, built on a hill (now part of the Wenham Golf Course). We now gather in our fifth meeting house, built in 1843, and more than ever, First Church continues to foster community. Our church is known as the church that welcomes everyone, and God has blessed us with a growing congregation, vibrant ministry, inspiring worship, and multiple avenues of outreach modeled after Jesus’ Great Commandment – to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We recently added a second minister with a special focus on youth and families. Our music program is known and admired throughout the North Shore, and when we became aware of the needs of homeless families in our community we stepped forward in a leadership role to help respond through an innovative program called Family Promise North Shore Boston.
The Challenge for our Building
Shining as a beacon in our community requires energy, enthusiasm and commitment, and it is not without challenges. Our 170 year old sanctuary was beautifully built with “old growth” wood; it has been carefully maintained and continues to provide an inspiring space for worship. However, our fellowship and classroom areas are failing to meet the demands of our growing congregation and are no longer adequate for our church school. The old “vestry building” built around 1835 was expanded and connected to the sanctuary in 1952. In 1961 the area beneath the sanctuary known as the “Undercroft” was excavated and converted to classroom space. While these areas have served the church and community for the past 50 to 60 years, they are now deteriorating. The foundation has become porous causing dampness, mildew and leaks; the windows, soffits and roof leak, and need to be replaced. Our elevator no longer meets code requirements and the mechanical/electrical systems need to be updated. Our lovely chapel dedicated to Elizabeth Perkins Herrold is also in need of repairs and renovations. Preliminary estimates range from $500,000-$700,000, and once completed we would still have a 1950’s building with inadequate space. That might be a worthwhile investment for a classic car, but not for a growing contemporary congregation.
Over the past three years the Capital Improvement Committee (CIC) has met with all of the various groups that comprise our congregation and community. The CIC has listened carefully to their concerns, frustrations and dreams; the Committee has also held forums and participated in our recent All Church Retreat. They have taken the various aspects of those visions and worked with an architect to translate those dreams into the reality of a new space that will not just accommodate our congregation but will enhance who we are and what we do as a church and as a community.
Architect Thad Siemasko has developed a plan that will meet our needs now and provide for our shared vision of the future at First Church. It includes the following:
- A spacious fellowship hall where all our members can gather
- Bright, safe and clean classrooms for our children
- Dedicated space for our youth and teens
- Space for our choir to rehearse and store music
- Functional and welcoming office space for all of the staff
- An elevator and accessibility considerations that make it possible for all members to move through the building
- Additional amenities for serving homeless families through our outreach in Family Promise North Shore Boston
- A new chapel that captures the charm of the Herrold Chapel and also includes access to an outdoor “Memorial Garden”
- “Green” energy systems that will allow us to be good stewards of our resources and save money on energy expenses
- Appropriately equipped space for our adult education programs
- Plenty of storage space, which is currently lacking
Our predecessors had the vision and dedication to build to meet the growing needs of the congregation and the community. Over the past 368 years members of First Church built five meeting houses, several parsonages, the current building in 1952, the Undercroft in 1961, accessibility upgrades in 1982, a major sanctuary renovation in 1987, and installed a magnificent new organ in 2003. For each generation their vision grew from a common discernment of God’s guidance, but it was not without challenges. They worked together with a unified commitment and resourcefulness to face those challenges, whether it was with barrels of cider and beer for building the Third Meeting House in 1664, $4,204 raised from pew sales for our current sanctuary, or $250,000 for a new organ in 2003. First Church in Wenham has a rich heritage of joining together to respond to a challenge.
The Challenge for Us
The project outlined above is projected cost $2,300,000. This includes two additions which will add roughly 2,500 square feet of space, bringing our total non-Sanctuary space to 12,000 square feet. We will renovate and modernize all of the existing space, while bringing it up to the current building code and state-of-the-art green energy systems.
We propose to finance the project as follows:
- $560,000 from the proceeds from the sale of the Parsonage
- $250,000 from Capital Improvement restricted endowment funds
- $250,000 from a long-term loan
- $1,240,000 to be raised from a Capital Campaign.
For a total of $2,300,000
The Challenge for You
We are asking everyone in our church community to share in the hopes, dreams and goals outlined above. We invite you to provide reactions and input about the project plan, and to join us in endorsing it, or offering suggestions for bettering it. The challenge for our community is to accomplish the goals together, as a faith community. We hope to invoke your enthusiasm and be true to God’s calling, so we encourage you to join us in sharing your financial resources to make this vision a reality.
Click here to access a Pledge Card.
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE
Lisa Boudreau, Co-Chair 617-347-1386 firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Twining, Co-Chair 508-843-2464 Petertwining@comcast.net
Janet Collett 978-423-1971 email@example.com
Bill Hausman 978-546-0135 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rich Hayes 617-653-1380 email@example.com
Rev. Mike Duda, Ex Officio 978-998-2376 firstname.lastname@example.org