We at Christ Church Cathedral have been blessed with two impressive buildings for generations. There is the Cathedral proper, a national historic landmark, which for nearly 150 years has been place for congregational worship, diocesan gathering, and a spiritual, cultural and community center for downtown St. Louis and the region. There is also the Bishop Tuttle Memorial Building, which for nearly 100 years has lived out its purpose to be a center for mission and ministry in the city in many and various ways.
We are not so much owners of these buildings but stewards of them for Christ. And Christ invites not only us in, but invites the faithful of our diocese and the people of St. Louis and the surrounding region. The difference between owner and steward is significant. The buildings are not "ours" but Christ's. As stewards we are not called to the us/them question of "should we let them use our building" but how is Christ calling these buildings to be used and cared for ... and inviting as many people as possible into that conversation.
That said, we as Cathedral parishioners and clergy have a special responsibility for this stewardship, so I want to use this space to update you on some of the ways we are addressing this ... and some questions for your thought and prayer in the weeks, months and years to come.
First, the present.
Building Maintenance Tasks - The Cathedral Property Committee, under the leadership of Cal Guthrie, has worked with the staff to design a process for identifying building maintenance tasks, prioritizing, and determining how the work can be most effectively completed. The basic unit for this system is a Building Maintenance Work Order, which is available to be filled out on the wall by the security guard's desk on the first floor of the BTM. All work orders will be reviewed by a combination of staff and property committee and progress tracked on a weekly basis. The details of the process are available by clicking here. Anyone may fill out a Building Maintenance Work Order ... so if you see something that needs maintenance, here is how you bring attention to it.
Complete Facilities Audit - The Cathedral and BTM are old buildings with many systems of varying ages. It is easy for building stewardship to become purely reactive -- only becoming aware of pieces when they break and not planning ahead for paying for large systemic overhauls (roof, HVAC, etc., structural work, etc.) As we near the 150th anniversary of the Cathedral, we will be undertaking a complete audit of both the Cathedral proper and the BTM. This "basement to belltower" audit will assess the current state of every system and feature of both buildings, chart what maintenance is overdue, what systems need replacing, and help us establish schedules for ongoing maintenance not only annually but decades into the future.
This week, we are sending out proposals to companies around the country who specialize in this work for old church buildings (this will include assessment of things like our organ and stained glass windows, so it is crucial it be done by someone who has expertise in churches). The goal is to have bids in and ready for Chapter approval by January with the audit taking place throughout 2015. When completed, we will have - possibly for the first time - an accurate picture of the state of our buildings and the issues (financial and otherwise) involved with maintaining them with excellence. Special thanks to Cal Guthrie, Gary Johnson, Ward Buckner, Jason Wiggins, Betsy Clark and Walt Johnson of the Property Committee who have been working on the proposal, and to Betsy Kirchoff and Karen Barney who brought back this idea from the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes meeting this past February.
Next, the future.
The immediate future - Our partnership with Lafayette Preparatory Academy last year and this year has given us a wonderful opportunity to use the BTM for the kind of mission -- providing excellent primary education to city children -- for which it was built and is also providing us with nearly $70,000 a year in income that has closed our annual deficit. LPA will leave in June, 2015 (we will no longer have the space to accommodate them as they grow) and with them the income they bring. We need a short-term plan both to use the space for mission and to close the gap of the income we will lose when LPA moves on. I am gathering a subgroup of Chapter (Laura Lambrix, Titus Olajide and Jane Mayfield) to explore options. Please let me know if you are interested in engaging this work as well.
The long-term future - As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Cathedral (2017) and the 200th anniversary of the Christ Church congregation (2019) it is time to look at the next 50 - 100 years of Christ Church Cathedral. This raises exciting questions for us. How is God calling us to use the buildings of Christ Church Cathedral to love downtown and the St. Louis region. What are the mission and ministry needs our buildings can fulfill both in the coming years and the coming decades? How can we build a sense of ownership in our buildings as sacred public spaces and catalysts for the common good -- and a shared financial stake in maintaining and perhaps even remodeling/adding to them?
This is a process of visioning that will dovetail with the strategic planning process that Jim Kimmey is currently leading your Chapter through (more on that later this week). It will include people of the Cathedral congregation but also the Bishop and people from around the diocese as well as civic leaders, residents and others from downtown and the region. A second small group (Sr. Warden Tom Gardner, Laura Lambrix, the Rev. Canon Dr. John Kilgore and me) are beginning to meet to begin this process as well.
What do you think? What are your thoughts about the current state of our buildings? How do you think Christ might be calling these buildings to be used in the near future and for the rest of the century? What dreams do you have for the Cathedral and the BTM?