"A Pretty Church is Like a Memory" Pardon my taking poetic license on the Coleman Hawkins song from the 1950s. But you have to admit, a pretty landscape, neighborhood and yes, a church, can stick in your mind. In the case of a church, I think of St. Michael’s, the Norman church (built about 900 years ago!) in the English village where the company I work for is located. I also remember a small church in the forest in Upstate New York that I frequented in the 1980s when I lived outside of Albany.
And I think of Good Shepherd. We are blessed with an attractive location in Reading, intimate small church architecture, and a 100 year history. The latter is both good and bad for us. Good because we have a sense of history, but bad because the property is in need of upkeep.
That’s why the third phase of the Capital Campaign was aimed at stopping the decay of the building and also making it more attractive. The whole idea is to make the building more welcoming and inviting…and ready for the next 100 years. That way people who see our church will more easily remember us. If “Church Shoppers” come in out of curiosity, we as members of the parish help to cement that memory and hopefully make them want to learn more about Good Shepherd and our message of love.
The first area of focus was to stop the leaking of the sanctuary roof that was slowly destroying the back wall of the church. We’ve all seen the bubbling of the plaster on the back wall and wondered what was happening underneath. The parapet required a replacement of all of the lead flashing, sealing any other leaks and repairing the interior walls. Bob Newton and Paul Marean were our “Management” on the project.
Like the other projects in This Old Church, we had a surprise. The roof of the sanctuary was repaired within the budget of $55,000. However…the flat roof between the sanctuary and the parish offices and lounge was in rough shape. This added $17,000 to the budget.
Next, the sidewalk was an obvious need. Our main entrance to the church looked very “tired.” The concrete sidewalk was cracked and pitted. The short brick walls were missing bricks and the mortar was decidedly absent in some areas. Not a good first impression for people visiting our parish. The first thing to be done was to remove the old sidewalk and lay down a bed of gravel to stabilize the new pavers. After the gravel settled, the pavers you see today were laid in place. The total cost was just over $20,000. Finally, the side of the sanctuary was power washed and the brick work at the entrance was repaired. Ask Mark Manzelli and Ben Sands about the “fun” of matching the 1960’s bricks! The good news is that there were no surprises and the work was done for $1,700. So our “prettying” ended up costing close to $94,000. Add to this the work of our volunteers who care for the grounds and we have an attractive… and dry :) property! So now we have plenty of heat all around and cooling in the offices and lounge, plus no leaks and a property that is ready for the future. Well, most of the property. Starting soon, we will tackle the interiors of the lounge and offices. This fall I will start a dialogue on what we expect as a parish, what we can afford, and how to make this happen. So stay tuned…This Old Church ain’t finished yet!