The Blue Sky Team and the Church have had a busy couple of months, with a lot of talking, listening, and sharing about how Pilgrim Hall could be rebuilt.
Through many listening sessions, surveys, and a series of discussions in June, the Blue Sky Team has heard recurring themes for a new Pilgrim Hall:
• a building that reflects and supports our active existing church community, that will also draw new people in, and that supports our mission to our broader community;
• a space that provides an oasis in a busy city, a place of sanctuary and retreat in which we can experience God in our lives;
• a green building, with flexible spaces for our many missions.
While our most recent discussions were not intended to result in final decisions, they have revealed that folks in the congregation would like more detailed information about two major elements of a rebuilding process.
First, broad support was expressed in the meetings for exploring a building that is larger than our previous space, that could have much to offer us and future generations.
Second, support was expressed for exploring an affordable housing project somewhere on the First Church campus that could cover the financial gap between what our insurance will cover and the cost of the new space, while helping to address the area housing crisis, an issue that the congregation has previously identified as a priority.
To move the visioning process forward, a mixed group of Blue Sky Team and Fire Recovery Committee members, called the Building Design Subcommittee (also referred to as the Blue Fire Committee), will work to transform the values and concerns that we have expressed into conceptual design plans for the rebuilding of Pilgrim Hall, providing a more concrete proposal for the Congregation to consider. The members of the Building Design Subcommittee are Molly Baskette, Roger Bash, Kara Korbel-Chinula, Lorenzo Llanillo, Rod MacKenzie, Scott Sporte and Moe Wright.
Working through the summer (albeit with a respite for July vacations), the Building Design Subcommittee will aim to provide to the Blue Sky Team by early fall a proposed conceptual design for Pilgrim Hall that fits with our calling and expressed values, and is feasible in terms of engineering, regulatory and financial realities.
Their discussions will include the full range of ideas that have been put forward to reshape Pilgrim Hall, among them, a more limited rebuild. Roger Bash has developed some plans along those lines that he will share with the congregation after church on Sunday, July 23.
Meanwhile, members of the Blue Sky Team will also be gathering more information about a possible affordable housing project on the north end of the church property (where Durant House sits.) They will be working with a nonprofit affordable housing developer, to develop broad outlines for a potential project including financial details and the relationship between the projects. If the project moves forward, a more formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process would follow.
Proposals for a rebuilt Pilgrim Hall will then be presented to the Congregation for review and feedback at a congregational workshop in the fall along with additional information about affordable housing. Hopefully, a plan that has broad consensus will be voted on at a congregational meeting after the congregation has time to consider the proposals.
A positive vote would authorize the development of detailed design specifications, permit application documents and construction drawings for Pilgrim Hall. While the timeline might change as the Building Design Subcommittee gathers more information on technical and financial constraints, we are optimistic that this timeline is realistic.