Letter from Coordinating Committee
April 19, 2016

Dear Peace Mennonite Community,

The Coordinating Committee is pleased to report that our congregation came to consensus at last Sunday’s meeting. After discussing, dreaming, and praying about our options for renting space at First Baptist Church or building on to our current building, those gathered approved the following: “The Coordinating Committee is directed to develop a full vision for embarking on a capital campaign, including committee membership, consultant options and community outreach.”

The Coordinating Committee is currently exploring options for a consultant to work with us on this capital campaign project. We would also like to assemble a Church Growth Task Force that will consist of three teams:

  1. Building Design Team—will work with the architect to develop building plans and bring building design proposals to the congregation for approval as necessary
  2. Capital Campaign Team—will work with the consultant to raise the needed funds for the building project
  3. Inviting & Including Team—will work with Joanna to encourage the congregation to invite more people to be part of the church and to offer inclusive hospitality to those who come

We hope to have 3-4 people on each of these teams. Matt Schwabauer and Mike Kaufman have already volunteered for the Building Design Team. We’re off to a great start! Please prayerfully consider how you can be part of this important project as our church seeks to more faithfully live out God’s calling for us. We hope to have these teams up and running within a few weeks.

We encourage you to contact Joanna or Joe soon if:

  • You would like to serve on one of the teams for the Church Growth Task Force
  • You have a capital campaign consultant to recommend
  • You have ideas about ways you would like to participate beyond serving on a team (We will need people with all kinds of skills to step in and help with various aspects of the project.)
  • You have any questions about the consensus process and/or the current direction of the church


We want to thank you all for your patience and loving kindness as we prayerfully worked through the discernment and consensus process. We believe the Holy Spirit was at work in bringing us to consensus, and we trust that the Spirit will continue to guide and empower us as we move forward together.

In Anticipation,

The Coordinating Committee: Joe Casad, Moderator; Andrea Zeurcher, Moderator-Elect; Gary Brunk, Treasurer; Doug Koch, Recorder; Joanna Harader, Pastor

Congregational Meeting Report
April 3, 2016

We opened in prayer by singing “Holy Spirit, come with power.”

Joanna reminded those present of our church mission statement: “Creating peace, working for justice, caring for creation, serving others, nurturing thoughtful faith.”

She then asked us to consider the following questions as we proceeded with our discussion:

  • How would owning a larger building in this location allow us to be more faithful in living out our mission statement?
  • How does owning a building contribute to our identity and energy?
  • Is this the most faithful path for us to take as we seek to follow Jesus?

Joe presented the new drawing from Stan Hernly and shared financial information. The modified proposal from architect Stan Hernly involves making our current worship space slightly larger and adding classroom space. With this plan, there is still room on the property to add a sanctuary. The estimated cost of the addition is $180,000, plus $30,000 for updates to our worship space.

Joanna shared information from other Mennonite churches who have done building projects:

Southern Hills, Topeka. (classroom, kitchen, gym addition)
Average attendance: 105; Annual Budget: $207,000
Project Cost: $700,000; plus additional $100,000 following year for rennovations
Raised about $450,000; borrowed $300,000; took 9 years to pay off

Shalom Mennonite, Newton (sanctuary)
Average attendance: 140 at time of construction; now over 200
Project Cost: $600,000
Raised some money by getting loans from church members

Manhattan Mennonite (In the process of building new)
Average attendance: 60-75
Project cost: have currently spent $715,000 on two properties; looking at a million dollar building project
Have used some funds from a house they sold and from rent from purchased trailer park

The group discussed the possibility of building on to this site—including the pros and cons.

Suggested pros: the modified plan meets most of our needs; it seems financially feasible; we will build equity if we own; more space will allow for growth in membership and ministries; it feels like a permanent solution; some people feel connected to this current location

Suggested cons: we would take on a larger debt; this property is not centrally located; we would need more money and energy for building maintenance, cleaning, etc.; the building process itself will take a lot of energy—including the need for a capital campaign

We noted that at the April 17 meeting we will discuss the option of sharing. We will then seek consensus on whether to move forward on building or on sharing. (This consensus will not yet be about a particular plan, but a general direction.)

Building Process Update
March 19, 2016

Summary of March 6 Congregational Meeting

  • There were 26 participants in the March 6 special congregational meeting. This represents a significant majority of our active participants.
  • Rob Claassen has stepped down as Moderator-Elect. Andrea Zuercher was affirmed as the new Moderator-Elect.
  • “Virtual Pledge Drive” indicates that if we pursue building on, people are willing to commit $30,000 in one-time capital gifts and an extra $340/month in pledges.
  • The addition designed by Hernly would cost about $300,000 and include: new sanctuary (with capacity of about 125), new ADA bathrooms, new nursery/child care room, new office, and improved/expanded parking lot.
  • Most of the meeting was spent going around the circle and carefully listening to each person present share their thoughts and feelings about our church space and the building process. The tone of the conversation was kind and respectful. There was a strong sense that people love the church and want to stay together; we are open to listening to and working with each other. Other recurring themes expressed by some, but not all, participants were:
    • An appreciation for our current property, particularly the connection to nature
    • Interest in pursuing ministry in the neighborhood
    • Some feel current space is fine
    • Some want the church to grow and recognize need for more space—especially for children
    • Sharing feels like a step backward
    • Concerns about losing identity if we share space
    • Excitement about possibilities for partnership if we share space
    • Many people expressed that they do not want to take on substantial debt

Thoughts from the Coordinating Committee

The CC wishes to acknowledge and respect the hard work that the Building/Space Explorers Group has done over the years. We believe it is important to build on the work that has been done and honor previous criteria that has been established. (You can see a time line of our building process at peacemennonite.org under “Church Business/Church Growth.”)

The March 6 meeting allowed the Coordinating Committee to understand that people at PMC fall into two distinct groups: those who would like to pursue a shared option and not own a building, and those who want to own a building and keep exploring options for renovating the space we have. We recognize that it is very important for people holding these views to listen to others and attempt to understand where they are coming from, as well as to think about the options from a more theological/ethical/strategic point of view and not simply focus on costs and logistics. Because of this, we plan to spend the next two scheduled congregational meetings (April 3 and April 17) discussing these two options in depth. The order in which we address options 1 and 2 is arbitrary, and we will endeavor to make sure everyone has a chance to be heard and to listen. We don’t necessarily want extra meetings, but we believe these two threads are too important to try to cram the discussion into a single meeting of tolerable length.

Next Steps

  • Coordinating Committee will obtain a scaled-down addition plan from Stan Hernly with a lower cost projection to present at a future congregational meeting.
  • CC will contact Quakers to see about possibilities with their building.
  • CC will follow up with West Side Presbyterian after their meeting on March 20th to determine if sharing space there is a possibility.
  • April 3 Congregational Meeting at 5 p.m.
    • If sharing with West Side is a possibility, we hope to meet at their building to see the space. The West Side tour would be followed by a discussion about sharing possibilities in general and the options we have in particular. (Lutheran Campus Ministry, First Baptist, West Side, and Quakers?)
    • If sharing with West Side is NOT a possibility (or if we still do not know), this meeting will focus on discussing the option of adding on to our current building. This discussion will include information on a scaled back building plan, discussion of capital campaign, and opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues related to building on including theological questions, ecological considerations, etc.
  • April 17 Congregational Meeting following worship. We will discuss whichever option (sharing or adding on) was not discussed on April 3. At the end of the meeting we will test for consensus. If we have consensus, we will plan to move forward. If we do not have consensus, we will schedule another congregational meeting.

Suggestions for Preparing for our Meetings

  • Please pray for our church throughout this time of discernment and decision-making. Pray that we will be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and that we will have clarity of vision about what type of building will allow us to most faithfully pursue the ministry to which God is calling Peace Mennonite Church.
  • Think and pray about what kind of church God is calling us to be in light of scripture. If you are not already using a set Bible reading plan, consider reading through the book of Acts in the coming weeks.
  • Review the documents related to “Church Growth” on the church web site. (peacemennonite.org under “Church Business.”) These documents include information about our church building process as well as more general information and considerations related to church growth.
  • Talk with others in the church about their hopes and vision for our congregation. Listen thoughtfully and share openly. Seek out those who may have an opinion that differs from yours.
  • Communicate with Joanna or another member of the Coordinating Committee (Joe Casad, Andrea Zuercher, Doug Koch, and Gary Brunk) regarding suggestions and/or concerns you have as we move through this discernment process.