Together we weave
Keeping everyone up to date
Last weekend on Saturday our Great Lakes Regional representative, Greg Coles conducted board/leadership training at Ada Unity. Representatives from UGR, Ada and Muskegon Unity attended. Lisa White, Sarah Edgington, Kate Perlmutter and I represented UGR. For various reasons our other board members were unable to attend.
On Sunday, many of you attended or listened on-line to Greg’s message of applying love and patience to change. Things happen in God’s time, and we need to hold space for ourselves and others to work through these changes and the feelings they engender. Though applicable to our own personal changes/transitions, the merger and those potential changes were front and center for us. Our interactions continued for those present at the Ada church with a Spiritual Listening Circle in the afternoon. Though some of us have mixed feelings associated with a merger with the Ada Church, most of us in the circle expressed positivity regarding the merger itself.
Greg arranged a meeting Thursday evening with the senior members of the Ada and Walker boards to help define our next steps. Do we merge? Under what circumstances? AND how do we manage our mixed emotions? What came out of this is a plan to define what a merger would look like, what an approximate timeline would be, and have our congregations vote on whether to merge.
We discovered that Ada is now contractually obligated to buy the Cascade church. They have delayed the purchase decision to the point they could be sued if they don’t close very soon. Our path forward if we decide to merge is almost assuredly the Cascade location. Our executive boards (both churches) would like to have both congregations conduct a merge vote in the next month. If both congregations vote to merge, then a joint team representing both congregations will plan the renovation of the Cascade church. This delay in planning the renovation will necessitate that both churches merge sometime this winter at our Walker site till the Cascade renovations are complete.
Thank you for your email on Monday. Your feedback is heard. How about if I address each of your concerns to the best of my ability.
1) We are very pleased that we are all in agreement that we should join together as one Spiritual Family, and that a building new to both of us is the best option. As I said to you on the phone, we have grown to appreciate and love one another.
2) You listed Unity GR's perceived negatives of the Cascade Church as follows:
• The building outside needs repair (this is answered in Phase 1)
• The parking lot is inadequate (right now it has 60+ spaces and will be expanded to 100+ spaces}.
• The very large tree in front of the building needs to be removed (it will be in Phase 1).
• The Sanctuary is too small. Right now it can hold 65+ people.
• The Classrooms are addressed in Phase 2. We will have the help of Diane Venzera, and we hope Lisa White.
• An elevator is planned for easy access to the downstairs.
• The heating system will be serviced where necessary.
3) We know that the building needs to be repaired. We have had a professional inspection and Builders giving us their opinions. Our own Bill Bussey, Ray Jaglowski, and Bill Perkins, who have considerable experience in building maintenance and repair, have prioritized and budgeted the work that needs to be completed.
The Project will be in Three Phases:
* Repair the Boiler.
* Remove the Trees (including the Sycamore) and Vegetation from the building perimeter (minimum).
* Establish a pest control program.
* Replace windows, new siding, doors, roof overhang repair.
* Entry walkway repair.
• Drywall finishing downstairs
• Upgrade electrical Service
• Lighting up and down
• Kitchen island
• Add bathrooms upstairs
• AV install
• Clean downstairs floors
• Paint downstairs for activities including a children's program
• Elevator planned
• Landscape the building perimeter
• Resurface the parking lot
• Air Conditioning installed
• Electronic Sign
• Hill Cleanup and Landscape
• Outside access from main level to lower level (stairs?)
• Expansion of the parking lot
• Expansion of Sanctuary
• New Entry
In regard to continuing to look for a different location - We have spent over a year in this endeavor, and thus far Cascade has been our best option. Discussions and looking continues, however after all this searching we feel that now is the time to focus on the job at hand. This means to begin the work to complete our new Church Home.
We are all looking forward to our weekend with Greg Coles, and meeting with our friends at Unity GR.
Unity Center for Spiritual Growth (Ada)
We had our town hall on October 3rd after our service at Unity GR. The potential merge with the Ada church was the sole topic of discussion. Some of the key takeaways are:
1. All who spoke (I believe almost all did), are very much for merging our churches. Several members said that they understand that a building, new to both congregations, is perhaps the best solution moving forward.
2. The major concern is discontent with the purchase of the Cascade church. The perceived negatives to the Walker congregation are:
a. The building is not ideal. It needs repair to the outside (siding, windows, roof). The grounds are not ideal - the parking lot is inadequate, and we believe that the tree by the door needs to be removed. The sanctuary is small. The classrooms downstairs are small and musty (perhaps even mold on the walls). The fellowship hall is not accessible to those who cannot negotiate steps. The kitchen needs a major upgrade. The heating system is old. To fix all of these issues will cost a great deal of money leaving a minimal amount left for the operating budget. If we're trying to attract new (and younger) members and grow, this is an unlikely location.
b. The location is not a good choice for either our congregation and/or future members. Mention was made that it is not on a bus line, but I don't believe that any of our congregants currently take a bus to church. That aside, the preference is that a different church with fewer drawbacks closer to or in the city would be a better choice. Or a super nice church such as the Belmont/Rockford church would be better for our goals as a joint church.
3. Consensus seemed to gel around the idea that we are in no rush to choose a future home, and with the Cascade church having such significant drawbacks, waiting is the best solution.
a. Ada can meet in their building rent free for 6 months. This allows time for the final merger of the two churches, and a joint team to decide on a new location. If a new location is not readily available, services can be held at the Walker building until a new location can be identified, and modified to our needs or a neutral location (hotel of a neutral location (hotel or other meeting facility).
b. In addition, upgrades to the Walker building could be discussed as an alternative to a third location. There was less discussion around this, as some recognize that a third location may be the best solution for the most chance of success.
In summary - The Walker congregation wants to merge with the Ada congregation. The Cascade building is seen as significantly less preferable to waiting, merging, and seeking a new building as a merged church. The Walker congregation does not see a need to make a building decision prior to joining.
I do think that we need to that we very much want to merge churches, and then figure out our future joint location.
Unity of Grand Rapids
Important Communication: Update Regarding Ada Church
First, let us preface this communication by reiterating that the boards at Ada and Walker have decided to share services and board meetings for a period of time before a congregational vote will be taken to merge the two churches. This gives us time to get to know one another, look at financials and business and how they’re managed, and create a combined vision for the proposed new entity through the process of a mission, vision and purpose workshop (date tba). A congregational vote has not yet been scheduled to merge the two churches, as we’d like continued conversation and input from you, our congregation! We hold the vision that the highest and best good be served as we continue the discussions about bringing the two entities together.
The Ada Church had an $800,000 offer they can’t refuse on their current church, and have voted to sell their Ada location. They are scheduled to close on the sale in the next week. Thus, the Ada group continues to search for a new home. They feel they need a new space that is permanent vs. moving into a temporary space, such as UGR or a hotel, etc. As you likely know, they identified a church in Cascade that seems to be a good fit. They have an offer in on it and are scheduled to close on that property in about two weeks. However, last Friday, another church came to light, and the Ada group plus a couple people from Walker went and looked at it Sunday. It is located in Belmont and is currently ‘Tribe Church’. Tribe has merged with another church in Grand Rapids, due to low attendance. Here are some comparables on Ada’s two possible future homes:
Cascade Church – Approx 6,000 Square Feet, needs extensive renovation. The current offer is $677,000, but Cascade Township will then pay the Ada group $300,000 and split the parcels so they can put a park next door to the church. Ada’s net purchase price will be $377,000. They then plan to spend a large sum on renovations, not to exceed an overall output of $650,000, so they will have some operating funds left (exact figures not known).
Belmont Church – Approx 13,000 Square Feet, move-in ready. Because of the need to move quickly, Ada has decided to make an offer for this church of $650,000 (Tribe Church has indicated that they are looking to ask in the neighborhood of $800,000, but the property is new on the market and is not yet priced). This church is very nicely appointed, in pristine condition, modern and may come with some furniture/AV equipment/lawn care equipment.
We will keep sending updates as we have them. We plan to have our normal Town Hall on the first Sunday in October after church for more discussion. We continue sending Chuck Pearson prayers and wishes for healing and peace after the loss of his wife, Liz. We also congratulate Gina Russ on the birth of a new grandbaby, who had some health challenges at birth but is now recovering nicely. Gina is away caring for her family for another couple weeks. So in the interim, if you have questions, please reach out to Katy Chapman directly at 616-915-3289 or email@example.com.
Unity of Grand Rapids
Board of Directors
UNITY OF GRAND RAPIDS
YOU’RE INVITED TO AN OPEN HOUSE AT THE
PROSPECTIVE CASCADE CHURCH LOCATION!
Saturday, August 21 from 1 - 3 pm
Blessings! We come to you with a special announcement to provide an update on our discussions about joining with Unity of Ada. We will be sending these out regularly to keep everyone abreast of what is happening and to seek input. A few points of interest:
Dear Active Member,
Your Unity Spiritual Community Church Board of Trustees has been assessing the former New Day Church at 2965 Wycliff Road in Cascade as our new church home. After discussions and negotiations with the seller, the Cascade Township Board, inspections, and quotes on renovations need to make the building serviceable and comfortable, the Board is recommending we proceed with the purchase of the subject property. Because of the current sellers' market that exists in real estate we needed to move quickly to get the property under contract. Our offer, however, is contingent on Unity member approval and the results of inspections, cost quotes and agreements with Cascade Township. At this point we have not had sufficient time to get every inspection and quote we will ultimately have done, but we have made sufficient progress to feel very comfortable with member approval of the purchase. Even with member approval, which we have contracted to have by August 22nd, contingencies will still remain, and any unexpected issues would allow us to withdraw our offer.
A special active member meeting will be held at the church after the service (11:45 am) on August 22nd. This recommendation will be discussed, questions answered, and a vote taken.
The subject offer is $677,000 for 3.86 acres of property including the former church. We have, under contract, an agreement for Cascade Township to purchase 1.86 acres of this property for $300,000 to use as a park immediately after we close on the initial purchase. The cost to us, therefore, will be $377,000 for two acres of land and the building, with the guarantee of a Cascade Township nature park immediately adjacent to our property. Compared to commercial properties available in the Grand Rapids area over the last several months, this opportunity stands head and shoulders above anything we have found to date. This property and its improvement will not require us to carry a mortgage, so we will be debt free.
With the sale of our Ada property for $800,000 that closes on or before September 15th, we will have a cash position of approximately $772,000 after payoff of our current mortgage. With the cost of the Cascade property of $377,000, we will have a cash position of approximately $395,000. This will create a building renovation fund of approximately $200,000 and a reserve operating fund of approximately $195,000. The reserve operating fund should keep us financially solvent for 5 to 7 years, even absent material growth. We do, however, expect with a new location and new energy, we will see much improved growth associated with this change.
We would expect to close on the Cascade property by September 22nd. Sale of the vacant 1.86 acres to Cascade Township will occur very shortly after that. We have use of the Ada location, rent free, for 6 months. This takes us to mid-March 2022. During these 6 months we will be able to renovate the Cascade property so we can move to it before we have to start paying rent on the Ada property. It is also very important to point out that this property provides excellent opportunities for expansion to accommodate growth over the future.
As noted previously, moving to a new facility improves the potential for combining the Walker and Ada congregations. At this point in time, Walker is considering a possible merger, but much thought remains to be given before any such commitment could be made. On the other hand, Ada is under time constraints associated with securing the Cascade property, and this is not an opportunity we would like to lose. Too many elements are falling into place that are very favorable to us to ignore.
6) If anyone can’t make it Saturday but would like to see the Cascade Church, they can contact Katy Chapman at 616-915-3289 to schedule a walk-through.
7) We know that there will be questions along this path, and we’ll do our best to send out regular updates. Please contact any board member if you have questions in the meantime. Over the coming weeks, please join us in prayer:
As a spiritual family we come together and affirm that the right and perfect situation for our church home and family will occur. We trust that we will be guided and declare divine order for us at this time. We trust that whatever the outcome, it will be for the highest and best good for all concerned. We trust God, we trust this process and we trust each other. At this time, we focus on divine wisdom, divine judgement and divine love, and thank God once again for giving us this opportunity to serve. We claim our own divinity as well as each other’s and say Thank You God, Thank You God, Thank You God! And so it is.
In Love and Light,
Unity of Grand Rapids
Board of Directors
We want to keep everyone informed on the latest information about the two churches merging. This page is dedicated to all current board messages.
Unity of Grand Rapids
1711 Walker Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Mailing address: PO Box 141663
Grand Rapids, MI 49514
1711 Walker Avenue NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Alternate entrance located on Seymour, off Richmond.