I am delighted to report that the Building Discernment Team has completed the task of determining the best use for the former day school spaces. I’m grateful to the members of the team for their work on our behalf: parishioners Susan Connor, Ted Hemmert, David Lilley, Elise Wall and Allie Wittkamp; and neighbors Crystal Cyr and April Miller. I’m also very grateful to you, the parishioners of St. Andrew’s, for your participation in the process, for your prayers, and for your patience. Discernment takes time – the time to listen to each other and to the Holy Spirit.
We began this process with congregational meetings and community listening sessions. Together we learned a lot about our hopes, abilities and resources, and about our limitations. We also learned about the unmet needs in our city. The Building Discernment Team then spent five months sifting through the many suggested building uses to determine what was most feasible for our situation.
The Building Discernment Team has recommended that we turn the former day school spaces into a multi-use outreach facility, making the building available to a variety of non-profit and service organizations, enabling them to start or expand ministries that can meet the changing needs of our community. The team’s report is below and gives a clear and thorough explanation of how they reached this solution. After a discernment period of their own, in July the Vestry unanimously approved the team’s recommendation.
This solution may come as a surprise. But, as the Discernment Team discovered, and as we are learning from our Canoeing the Mountains Adult Forum discussions, the world in front of us is nothing like the world behind us. What worked well in the past won’t carry us into the future. For St. Andrew’s to thrive and to help grow God’s Kingdom, we must be willing to head into uncharted territory and adapt to new ways of being the church - reaching and serving those who aren’t in our pews on Sunday, and building more intentional relationships with our neighbors. A multi-use outreach facility offers us an exciting new way to engage with and serve our community, and the flexibility to respond to new opportunities and changing needs.
So, what’s next? As you can read in their report, the Building Discernment Team outlined some of the next steps that will be necessary to make the new outreach center a reality. The Vestry has determined that an Implementation Team will be needed to lead us through this next phase, creating the necessary “infrastructure” to make the outreach center a place that can successfully support new and growing ministries.
The Building Discernment Team will join me and the Vestry at the Adult Forum on Sunday, September 15 to talk about their recommendation and share more about what they learned during their time of discernment. I hope that you will join us.
This is a new adventure and challenge for St. Andrew’s, a new way to serve God and bring God’s love to our community. We’re heading “off the map” as it says in Canoeing the Mountains, but we’ll be traveling together, with the Holy Spirit before us to guide us. I hope you are as excited as I am about what the future holds!
St Andrew’s Discernment Team
Report to the Vestry, June 13, 2019
· The discernment team recommends that the areas of the building previously housing the day school become a multi-use outreach facility.
· Under this recommendation the building would be made available to non-profit service organizations and community groups who would arrange to use the space on an occasional or regular basis.
· The discernment team was given an informal list of ideas derived from our parish wide discernment process. The list consisted of ideas brought by parishioners as well as from people living in the surrounding community of St. Andrew’s. This list also included contact information from various community groups who had inquired about the use of the space the previous year. These groups had been told that the space was not ready for use until our process could be completed. The team was charged with vetting the list to narrow it down to a maximum of three possibilities for the use of the space. These possibilities would then be given to the vestry for a decision on how best to move forward.
· As stated by the rector and agreed upon by the vestry, the team was to operate under the following guidelines: A) Neither the parish of St. Andrew’s nor the staff of St. Andrew’s would initiate or administer programs. B) St. Andrew’s would not be funding renovations of the building to meet the needs of an organization or to comply with city requirements.
· The team learned that if the building functions as an outreach of the church, additional requirements for building codes compliance and zoning would not be necessary. The team also learned that the St. Andrew’s Day School operated under grandfathered conditions with no permit. Going forward, any group using the facility beyond the function of an outreach classification may need a permit. Typically, the city will not review the requirements for a permit until the actual need arises. Additionally, if a permit is needed the responsibility for making the application is incumbent upon the owner of the building.
· The team divided the list of building use suggestions into three categories: A) those involving work with children, B) those involving work with adults, and C) those serving general community.
· The team also classified the suggestions in degrees of facility of implementation: A) highly feasible (suitability/possible success of implementation), B) questionable feasibility, and C) improbable feasibility.
· Using this classification system, the team then looked at each suggested program to see if it fit into the parameters that were set by rector and vestry. Considering this, the group concluded that the ideas must come from outside individuals or groups that have vision, passion, and financial backing for their program. For example: childcare or a preschool was a favored suggestion on the list. However, there was not an individual nor an organization that came forward and wanted to start such a program. In fact, the team reached out to a neighbor church to ask if they wanted to use the space to serve more children in their program, and the team was told that was not an option at this time. The team also reached out to Smart Beginnings, our local coalition of folks working with the 0-5 population to ask if they knew of anyone who needed space to start a childcare or preschool program and were told “not at this time”.
· Another favored suggestion surrounded the concept of becoming a Children and Family Center, much like today’s Hampton Healthy Families Partnership (HHFP). This idea was brought up by several parishioners as well as two of our discernment team members. Our team contacted the original founder of HHFP, Debbie Russell, who gave some insight as to how that organization was founded and grew.*. (For more information concerning HHFP, see concluding footnote)
· The current arrangement St. Andrew’s has with the Hilton Community Playgroup appears to be a successful model for how the building can be used in the way the team is recommending and bears close resemblance to the very beginning foundation of HHFP as stated in the footnote below.
· The team continued to reach out to groups that had contacted the church inquiring about the space. Most had either found an alternative site for their need or were no longer seeking space.
Rationale for Outreach Center
· During the 5 months of meeting, no individual or group came to the team asking for use of all the available space. During our time of meeting, however, several groups and organizations asked for space on an occasional basis.
· We feel that needs from the community will present themselves over time. We can provide the space to meet those needs.
· An outreach facility that serves the community is in keeping with our stated goals: A) “being the church” to those not necessarily in our pews each Sunday, B) establishing intentional relationships, and C) re-engaging in our neighborhood.
· In a broader sense, such an outreach facility would support the St Andrew’s mission of knowledge, love, and service to God.
Possible Next Steps
· Develop a suitable name for the outreach center. (For example, STACS- St Andrew’s Community Space, St. Andy’s Place, 45 MainSpace…)
· Consider arranging for volunteers or even a part-time person to schedule interested groups.
· Determine possible uses and capacity for rooms.
· Consider developing an online community calendar (as with Google docs) for groups to reserve space.
· Draw up guidelines as to what constitutes legitimate outreach and what doesn’t.
· Develop a screening process for determining what groups have access to the community calendar and ability to reserve space.
· Develop language around possible requests for donations.
· Identify partnerships to promote use of the building. (Examples: St. Andrew’s Net, blog, and Facebook; the Diocese of Southern Virginia, clergy groups/networks, Newport News Social Services/Community Services Board, Greater Hilton Network.
· On-hand materials: The team suggests that the computers be donated or sold as they are out of date. We suggest that science equipment, art supplies, the Prometheus boards, desks/chairs, and teacher resource materials remain in the building for at least a year. The Hilton Community Playgroup is requesting use of children’s books, while young adult fiction, non-fiction, and reference materials can be donated to Holy Apostles Anglican School or another group.
*Additional Information on Hampton Healthy Families Partnership
In 1991, Debbie was the Resource Coordinator for Hampton Social Services; and pregnant with her first child. As a professional in Human Services; she was aware that there were growing demands for resources, but the resources for parents were decreasing. As she stated, she had read all the books for parents, but still felt ill equipped to be a first-time parent and what all that entailed. The key to all of it was looking through the lens of “every parent has the same dream for their new baby’ no matter what life’s circumstances are handing them at the time. All parents dream that their children will be healthy and happy. So, she asked herself, what is missing: and basically, came to realize that she needed more parenting information and education as well as support, most especially from other parents in her situation. So she set out to “Normalize parenting education and support”. Debbie stated that she had three significant “players” from DSS and or city that understood the needs of parents out here and supported her vision and she stated that she modeled the concept around Hawaii’s Healthy Start program. Within the first year, Debbie had developed three initiatives:
1. Child Development Newsletter
2. Opened library centers in each public library, where parents could gather and play with children as well as have access to books on parenting and of course age appropriate books for children 0-5 years
3. Healthy Start Parenting Education Programs
Today Hampton Healthy Families Partnership includes many more layers including Infant Toddler Connection, Playgroups, Before and After School Programs, Healthy Start and Home visitation, and Mayor’s Book Club; and is almost totally supported by the city of Hampton…but the vision is still consistent with what Debbie’s vision was back in 1990, that all children may have a healthy start in life to help ensure success when entering school. As the city of Hampton now financially supports HFP, it was all done through grants in the beginning. Debbie was very clear in her intent for the program to be for all parents: no matter financial status: Universal Access with Universal Participation.
She stated it was because she was a passionate parent with a need; and she figured if she is having this need, so must other new parents...Key to success: Need, Vision, Passion, Do it in layers.