St. John's News

Addressing the Financial Challenges of an Aging Facility

By Carolyn H’Doubler

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!

Did you know that St. John’s is on the National Register of Historic Places? St. John’s opened its doors at the corner of Jefferson and Elm on Sunday, December 11, 1892. Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, St. John’s is a Gothic style blue-gray limestone church designed by Charles M. Burns of Philadelphia. It is considered one of the finest examples of 19th century ecclesiological design in Southwest Virginia. 

 In the August and October issues of The Record, we published insightful conversations with David Tucker, chair of the Property Committee.                                            

We conclude our interview by asking how we can be faithful stewards of our historic church and provide a firm foundation for the future.

David, you said the most crucial property need in the next year is the replacement of the parish hall HVAC system. What other immediate property needs must we address in order to preserve our historic building?

At this time, in addition to replacing the HVAC system, the following critical needs are necessary to preserve the physical plant where our ministries take place:

  • Refinish the roof over the administrative offices.
  • Replace the gutter around the bell tower.
  • Repair the historic slate roof over the nave.
  • Install security lighting and cameras for safety.
  • Upgrade the kitchen and bath of the Light House with new appliances.
  • Stabilize the facade beneath the rector’s office/window.

According to the National Register of Historic Places, the stained glass windows in the nave are very special. Can you tell us more about how we need to preserve these windows?

Yes, the magnificent nave with its hammerbeam roof and wooden arcading is illuminated by stained glass windows, including several by Tiffany Studios. In addition to the above list of property needs, we need to clean and re-lead our exceptional stained-glass windows.  This will ensure they are fully functional and preserved for years to come.

Our parish is known for serving others through a variety of outreach and mission activities. What would you say to those parishioners who feel that outreach programs should always be given a higher financial priority than property concerns?

In a large part, we address outreach through the use of our building. Our commitment to the maintenance and preservation of the building and our commitment to outreach  are not competing needs; they should work hand in hand. For example, if you look at Family Promise or CYP, St. John’s provides a stable, secure, ongoing space for these ministries. Taking care of our physical facilities ensures that our programs and ministries can continue to thrive.

Do we have the resources to accomplish what needs to be done?

No, Carolyn, we currently don’t have the ability to do all of these necessary things.  However, we have a really amazing congregation willing and able to rise to whatever challenges we face.  

You’re right, David!  St. John’s parishioners have been faithfully worshipping and serving God from the corner of Jefferson and Elm for 127 years.  We’ll meet these facility challenges through continued generosity and stewardship of resources.  Thanks be to God!