Emergency Solutions Grant Update, by Pastor Todd Bratulich

This past summer, First Covenant Church applied for and was awarded a grant from the City of Minneapolis to work on capital improvements for the space we utilize to provide seasonal shelter for people experiencing homelessness in partnership with the Salvation Army. The scope of the grant will fund renovations and improvements to the Fellowship Hall (lower level) which will include two new ADA accessible showers, laundry facilities, lockers, flooring, security upgrades, and an office space to be utilized by Salvation Army staff during the shelter season. All of the improvements will serve to provide more hospitable environment for our shelter guests, staff and volunteers, and open the door for the possibility of serving as a women-only shelter in the future if deemed necessary or advantageous by the Salvation Army given their always changing demographics.

As the 2015-2016 shelter season comes to a close, we are moving closer to the construction phase of the project. Given our current timeline, construction will likely begin in June and continue through the end of the summer, with the goal being to move to completion with plenty of time to get ready for next year’s shelter season to start again in November. I am excited to announce that we will once again be working with Fair & Square Remodeling as our General Contractor. In addition to having worked on recent remodeling efforts at FCC, Fair & Square CEO Mike Otto has become a friend and partner to First Covenant Church, doing outreach alongside the congregation organizing work days with Urban Homeworks, and establishing True North, a group where professional men can have a safe environment to support each other in the challenges of their lives and careers. I am also grateful for the talented and engaged volunteer team that has been working to move this project forward, including Brian Wass, Carina Aleckson, and Suzanne Begin, not to mention the additional hours put in by staff! Look for changes in the Fellowship Hall coming soon!

Leadership Team Update

I would have to say that these last few months as a member of the Leadership Team, have felt to me like my early days learning to drive a stick shift car—very slowly and deliberately; I would get the gas and clutch pedals just right so the gears would align properly, and then, whoosh, the car fast is off only to get to the next stop light to go through the entire process again. Careful and deliberate...fast...careful and deliberate...fast...

As the Leadership Team thoughtfully and wisely discusses and thinks through particular decisions that have to be made regarding the many facets of making our land available for workforce housing and our building to be shared with many nonprofits, we begin carefully and deliberately. We get as many expert opinions as feasible, discuss as many options available, run ideas by as many subcommittees as necessary, and pray without ceasing. It’s like getting all the gears lined up and synced so the clutch engages quietly and smoothly. Then we are off and running until the next situation reaches our table and the process starts over again. It’s quite a ride!

Yet as I review these past few months, what astounds me as much as the projects are the people who have stepped in with extraordinary amounts of expertise and time to make this all happen. One cannot miss the hand of God in this. Not only do people give, but they do so with true joy and excitement—it is a wonder to see people work in their “sweet spots”. And because of the many varied careers and capabilities within our congregation, we also have access to many outstanding outside professionals and resources.

I want to highlight two subcommittees that have continued to meet at least weekly for over a year now to research, study, discuss, distill, and then advise the Leadership Team with regard to the the many options, questions, and challenges that come before us. The Facilities Committee (Chair Ezra Bartsch, Frances Woodson, Maddy Grimmer, Doug Vigoren, Charice Deegan, Brian Ogren, Dan Collison, Roger and Chris Fossum, Suzanne Begin, and Kori Sheldon) is charged with coordinating and directing many of the activities required as we seek to effectively utilize space in our building by establishing partnerships with organizations consistent with our church’s mission to our community.

The Site Redevelopment Committee (Co-chairs Kevin Frazell and Carina Aleckson, Brian Wass, John Schrager, Dan Collison, Brian Ogren and Chris Fossum) has responsibility for studying, planning and negotiating the use of our land and other physical assets to position us to minister well in the 21st century to the city in which God has placed us. I wish I had space to tell what each individual has uniquely brought to the table. But suffice it to say that we not only have many uniquely talented individuals, but they have just the expertise needed to meet the challenges that continue to arise. Some day we will look back and really tell the story that needs to be told in detail, but for now, I am continually humbled to say that we are an extraordinary church full of very special people following an amazing God in redeeming this city for His glory.

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare. ~Jeremiah 29:7

Site Redevelopment Update

First Covenant Church has been working for a year and a half with Community Housing Development Corporation and Ryan Construction to build a six story affordable housing project on our surface parking lot. The project continues to gain momentum! On Sunday, April 17, the congregation voted unanimously to authorize the Leadership Team to proceed with the necessary land swap with the new owners of Hubert’s Sports Bar.

These visuals represent general massing images for the land swap, one level of underground parking, and the basic massing for a the housing units, revised surface parking lot, re-located playground, newly landscaped sidewalks, and a re-designed parking parameter. (All of these images are subject to change.)

The Site Redevelopment Steering Committee meets weekly and the Leadership Team will continue to hold Town Hall Forums as needed. Additionally, the Leadership Team will send key written communication to you as more decisions are necessary.

The project is moving fast and here is what still lies ahead:

• Ongoing Development Meetings and Approvals with City and Neighborhood

• Ongoing Congregational Meetings

• Execute Land Swap in May or June

• Refine Building Upgrades Task List

• Develop Construction Phase Congregational Plan

• Land Lease Congregational Approval in May or June

• August / September Lease Closing and Ground Breaking Ceremony!

Please pray that God provide for every need in this process!