This document provides an overview of what was presented at the Members’ Meeting on 23rd January to enable you to prayerfully consider how you will respond. The immediate requirement is to extend monthly pledges to enable the CAF Bank loan application for £1.2m to be approved (details below). The responses will be an important step in defining the way forward with the Regeneration Project, in preparation for the Members’ Meeting on the 3rd March, where a final decision will be taken.
We called that phase of our history when the bulldozers moved in to demolish the old Church building, Lansdowne without Walls. But how did we get to that position? It’s helpful to re-tell the story of the Regeneration Project. Those who have joined the journey in more recent years, as well as those of us who have been living the dream of a new building for a lot longer, need perspective on how God has been faithful and provided at every stage.
We had a firm conviction that remaining in the town centre was the right thing to do. Our commitment to the vision of being In Lansdowne for Good was driven by the strategic location of the site and the potential which a multi- purpose centre would give us as a Hub for Christian Mission.
The Lord confirmed that His hand was upon us for good when at our first Gift Day, over £2.3 million was pledged or given towards the project. In fact, we were never truly without walls. Strouden Park Chapel became a wonderful provision which has served us for far longer than we expected as our Head Quarters. Perhaps even more significantly, the delay to the Project has given us time to build a real commitment to an ongoing mission to the Strouden and Townsend communities.
The delay has also given us the opportunity to learn lessons. Through a multi- site and multi service organisational model that Church is a people on the move. Not all these have been comfortable lessons. Flexibility, adaptability and unpredictability comes with a price tag. But it’s the cost of growth and change.
God has been in the unexpected delay, giving us time to get ready, refining us a community, bringing us to trust Him.
For as Chapter 2 opens, we are Still without walls! We have experienced more than a typical number of frustrations and obstacles for a building project. Perhaps after a remarkably positive start, God still has lessons to teach us about living by faith. Certainly,we have committed to a level of consistent prayer, which has been to our spiritual benefit. After the work on site was stopped, we used this pause to conduct a review on the whole project and to adopt a revised model. A model which we hoped would bring with it a confidence that the Project can be completed.
Once more through the grace of God and the generosity of His people a further £1.2 million was raised by another Gift Day. But that still left us with a shortfall to meet the newly projected costs and an unfinished project. That’s where we are today with more work to do and more waiting on God.
So, what lessons from a building site have we learned?
The experience of the Old Testament people of God in exile is always helpful. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah recount how King Cyrus allowed some of the exiles to return to Jerusalem and restore the Temple. The spirit of the people was moved to action. They wanted to do something about the honour of God’s house. So they stepped up. Led by Zerubbabel.
But that regeneration project too ran into difficulties, so much so that the work stopped for several years until King Darius gave permission for the Temple to be completed. Ezra the priest renews the community in Judah by restoring the Word of God among them. Then Nehemiah joins the story.
He receives news about the unfinished walls and is moved after praying, fasting and mourning, to go to the King and ask if he can be released to restore the City walls. In his journal Nehemiah records how the ‘King granted me my request for the good hand of my God was upon me.’
Peter Baker | Senior Minister
Regeneration Project Construction Update
Tender submissions were received from three main contractors towards the end of last year. These contractors were invited to price the design drawings and specifications, and to present any initiatives they could identify to reduce the cost of construction without compromising the use of the new church building. It has taken some time to interrogate these initiatives and to establish the financial adjustments. Please treat these figures as confidential as they are not shared with competing contractors until a building contract is awarded. The comparative costs of construction are:
1. £2,735,958.07 Contractor A
2. £2,965,897.18 Contractor B
3. £3,006,456.36 Contractor C
Contractor C’s price reflects the design drawings and specification, as they presented very little in the way of cost savings. Contractor B made some suggestions, but Contractor A applied considerable rigour in looking for opportunities to reduce the cost and the length of programme. One example is that they have an alternative solution to achieve the appropriate sight lines from the balcony by retaining the existing structure and constructing tiered seating on top of the timber trusses.
Contractor A’s programme to complete the construction works is 45 working weeks which is preferable to the other two contractors who both require 50 weeks.
The focus has therefore been on Contractor A and revised drawings are being prepared to align with their initiatives and price.
It is also hoped that further savings can be achieved with Contractor A for example, by selecting an alternative manufacturer of the ventilation equipment and a different supplier for the light fittings. All these opportunities will be investigated to secure the best value for the church.
The cost of the new incoming mains services needs to be added to Contractor A’s price together with the professional fees, the resolution of the boundary dispute, insurances, the Licence for the car park behind the post office, the VAT on the café and a contingency allowance. It is always prudent to have a financial sum set aside for the unknown and unexpected. All these costs and estimates, which exclude the cost of fitting out the church, add up to £3.1m. This represents a saving of £250,000 against the anticipated cost to complete the Regeneration project that was reported in last AGM Newsletter last June.
Keith McKay | Trustee
At the members meeting on 23rd January the costs and funding to complete the building at Lansdowne Road were presented.
The cost of completing the building was shown to be £3.1m including related professional fees. This figure is £250k lower than the previous estimate, which is very positive news.
In Spring 2019 it was reported that we needed to take a bank loan of £700k and secure additional funding of £1.8m in gifts to complete the project. The Gift Day in May raised £1.2m which left a funding shortfall of £600k. The saving on construction costs reduces this shortfall to £350k. This cost for fit-out (c£350K) will be the focus for another Gift Day later in the year.
At the meeting it was explained that the loan required to complete the construction will now need to be £1.2m. Financial pledges to the project were first made in November 2013 and included a £400k pledge which has up to now been expected to be paid in full. The payment of this pledge has become uncertain and it was agreed that if we are to press on with the project then the loan will need to cover this shortfall. A further £100k addition to the loan is required for cash flow reasons because some of the money being made on regular monthly payments will be received in the 2 years following the completion of the building and will effectively repay the additional £100k of loan. In summary the £1.2m is made up of the original loan figure of £700k plus £400k to cover the unpaid pledge plus £100k to cover the cash flow.
The predicted financial position to fund the completion of the construction contract, excluding the fit-out is as follows: –
Current bank balances £1,199k
Add: Confirmed pledges to be paid £518k
Add: Gift Aid to be claimed from HMRC £185k
Loan required to complete (excluding fit out) £1,200k
Detailed discussions have taken place over a number of years with CAF Bank and the proposal for a £1.2m loan will be put forward to the appropriate credit committee at the bank in February. Lansdowne Road and Woodbury Avenue have been valued by the bank and the value of Lansdowne Road should be sufficient to support the level of loan required. It should be noted that CAF is the Charities Aid Foundation and CAF Bank will only lend to charities. It is a charitable rather than commercial organisation and its attitude to lending reflects that.
A £1.2m loan would require a monthly payment of approximately £6k per month over 25 years. It is hoped that the loan can be paid much quicker and possibly in no more than 10 years. In order to support these repayments, letters will be sent to all members and attendees in the last week of January. Those people who are currently making regular monthly payments will be asked to confirm whether they can extend their pledge to 2025 or define an alternative the time period over which they will be able to continue to give. All others will be asked to consider a new regular gift and the time period for that commitment. These responses will give the church confidence that the loan can be repaid quickly and at the same time give the bank confidence that future loan repayments will be made. As always large numbers of regular small gifts will be more appropriate for the church than relying on a small number of people making much larger payments.
Julian Navey | Trustee
We have more waiting, more praying and more giving to do. We want to be in a position by the Members meeting on March 3rd to feel confident in our financial capacity to appoint a Main Contractor. Still to walk the journey to completion by faith but being assured that we travel with the good hand of God upon us.
To achieve this, we are asking all those who continue to support the Regeneration Project to re-affirm or renew their pledges. In addition, we will provide the opportunity for others to support the project recognising that several have joined us in recent years.
It is intended to complete this process by early February when approval in principle for the loan will be gained from CAF Bank to enable members to affirm the way forward on 3rd March.
In the meantime, we remind ourselves that 2020 is a year of Mission. All we are about as a Church community, including our Building Project serves the aim of our Motto for this year to unashamedly make disciples by declaring the gospel and loving the lost.
We are beginning a process of reviewing all our current ministries as we seek to clarify our key objectives and shape the future. We want to work though the implications of our original vision to be a strategic, town centre church. We want to become more effective as we invest in Christian mission in places like Townsend, Strouden Park, the conurbation, nation and world.
We also want to engage with the new and growing Lansdowne Church Community so that they can understand and own our vision.
In the ongoing delay, we want to keep asking God how we can make the most of the present. We hold together in the unity of the gospel believing that there is meaning in the waiting.
Peter Baker | Senior Minister
Regeneration briefing as a PDF