November 2015 – Update
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
This update was given at the OEC general meeting yesterday. If you can’t make it to the end two specific things we would love you to pray for are: the meeting this Thursday with project manager, Bruce Litchfield, and the new building committee chairman, Paul Owens.
Just a few weeks ago our senior minister, Bruce Bennett, made an important statement about the status of the ministry centre project. That statement was made because our quantity surveyor, Greg Seib, had costed our plans for our Australia Cinema development at $6.6m. Bruce said that this number meant that we needed to re-examine and rethink our entire ministry centre project—from our viable options through to our building committee processes. A few weeks down the track here is a brief update on where we’re at.
1. What we know at this point in the process of getting our own building
We know that we need a building of reasonable size. Our numbers and growth are running true with our projections. So we are still working hard towards achieving this goal.
We know that where we are in the process of getting our own ministry centre is not good. Eight years after we began to seriously pursue the idea of an OEC ministry centre, we have two properties, a $6.6m build cost and nowhere to meet. We acknowledge this and have begun to examine our processes and decisions to this point, so that they are more effective from now on—more about that in point 3 below.
We know that we can convert the Australia Cinema into a building that services our ministry requirements but the cost is more than we can justify. With the significant input of our client representative, Greg Bennett, we are currently reducing the aesthetic and consultants specifications of the current plans to work out if we can reduce the cost to something more realistic.
We also have a set of preliminary plans for a ministry centre development at Ploughmans’ Lane. We are planning to get those plans costed so that as we think about our options we can be comparing apples with apples.
We are also considering the interim option of utilizing the Cinema while we work out the bigger picture.
2. The financial realities for us in seeking a building that fits our requirements
After having our plans for the Australia Cinema commercially valued and talking to both the Commonwealth Bank (our current banker) and Baptist Financial Services we also now know that for a church development of this kind we will need approximately 70% of the build cost before we can begin construction. This puts us in the real world about our financial commitment and our need to continue raising funds now.
We also know that in the last three years property giving has averaged $330,000 per year and on current projections, God willing, 2015 will see the largest amount ever given to property in a single year. This is with only around one third of the people at OEC giving to property.
These figures are very encouraging because if we as an entire church community can fully engage with our building project we have the capacity to fund a building that will meet our needs and be an enormous resource for Gospel ministry.
3. Plans to enhance management of the project and building committee governance
We realise that OEC’s management of this project has not been all that it should have been. In large part this has been because the building committee has consisted of and been lead by volunteers with full-time work commitments and limited to no experience in managing building projects of this scale. To rectify this we are taking two significant steps, endorsed by the overseers, to enhance the management of the project and governance of the building committee:
1. We have asked Bruce Litchfield a professional project manager and the manager of capital works for Sydney Anglican School’s Corporation (SASC) to assist us. He will be meeting with us this Thursday (19th November) to kick off a three step process that will: outline the stages of the project, develop solutions to return the project to the planned budget and put together a plan of action to bring the project back on track. SASC is providing Bruce’s services to us free of charge.
2. Paul Owens will be taking over the chairmanship of the building committee until a builder is engaged to commence construction. This is back to the future as Paul was OEC’s first building committee chairman. Back then as now he’s a clear thinker and good leader but the crucial difference is that he is now on the OEC payroll. He will be freed up on average one day per week (or 20% of his time) from other ministry commitments to focus on the OEC ministry centre project. This doesn’t mean that Paul ‘carries the can’ on his own for the project but it will give us capacity that we have not had before. The overseers believe that this is particularly important at this important juncture in the ministry centre project.