Although we have been thinking about our future for a very long time, it is still early in the redevelopment process. We have now listed to sell the building (Jan 13, 2017), one of the big steps towards redevelopment. In addition to the Trinity website (www.trinityunitedkw.ca), weekly Board Bits, eBLASTs and monthly mailing of updates to our shut-in community, these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are intended to keep you informed. You may ask questions at any time and you will find a links to your Trinity leadership included here. We will update this page as new questions arise and plans take shape. This has recently been updated in response to questions presented at the congregational meeting Jan 15, 2017.
- Is the church closing?
No, absolutely not, by our definition of “church.” The congregation is moving to a smaller, more manageable space while we continue to work toward a building plan for 74 Frederick St. As was always the plan, the building must close at some point and the congregation will carry on its great work elsewhere during this period. The board has identified August 2017 as a target date for the move, assuming the interim location of St. Matthews is ready for our use.
- Why would we pay for upkeep of the building and for rent in another location?
The board of trustees have just begun looking at the challenges, risks and costs of this scenario and, together with the treasurer, will examine all details required to vacate the building. Our insurance agent has confirmed that we need maintain only a minimum of insurance and basic heating in the building when we vacate.
Rental expenses will be offset by the savings on building maintenance operational costs. For example, a 60-day hydro bill is more than $2,000. The old boiler heating system is no longer reliable and has been threatening to shut down; a new heating solution is estimated at $50k. The recent emergency expenditure of $7000 to keep it running is a perfect example.
These are tremendous costs for such a small congregation.
Many are tired of waiting for what they have focused on for so long. We need to move to see our potential as a new church. Rising costs to sustain an old building continue to erode our ability to do new things; the building remains a barrier of accessibility and to those who are uncomfortable in the setting of an old traditional church context.
- If we list the church and it sells early, will we move out before August?
We are in a process of congregational meetings, Presbytery requirements and grieving and pastoral support as well as working with St Matthews to determine space requirements and leasehold improvements. This process will likely take us to the summer. The purchaser will have a complex process of checks, balances and permits that the City of Kitchener, the Region of Waterloo, and the legal systems require.
- If the church is sold intact, will we lose historic and useful elements such as stained glass windows and the organ?
It is highly unlikely this will happen. Part of our work is to ensure all furnishing and memorial gifts (including windows) are considered for retention and reuse within the new building, returned to original donor families or donated/sold for other suitable purposes. Trinity leadership understands the magnitude of interest and concern about our wonderful pipe organ.
The trustees are responsible for ensuring there is due process and that it is considerate and thoughtful for the congregation. It’s difficult to comment on how items will be handled when we don’t have our interim space design yet. As the trustees and leadership map out a relocation plan, this will obviously receive utmost consideration and discussion.
Critical archival material will be sent to the United Church of Canada Archives in Toronto.
- Have we looked into what it would cost to renovate the church to a manageable size?
Experts tell us that very little of the existing structure would remain; the building would be gutted (environmental asbestos hazards exist) and costs could actually exceed a re-build. Current building codes, accessibility standards, lighting, sound, heating zones, reconstructed roofing and green standards to reduce carbon foot print all have HUGE impact on costs. Here are some points that we should remind ourselves of;
- Accessibility: Our present layout has many stairs that prohibit access to parts of the building for those who struggle with these obstacles. The building will never meet accessibility standards and Trinity must be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- Our boiler is on borrowed time. It is the oldest operating boiler of its kind in the city and had to be coaxed into providing heat this season. The replacement cost would be at least $50,000.
- Renovating the interior. If we did this and renewed the look of the interior and insulated for efficiency, the porous exterior bricks would fall off in 8 years because they need air flow to keep them dry.
- The roof of the main building is ageing again.
- The chapel roof failed last year and we closed that part of the building in preparation for development rather than spend the funds to repair.
- The elevator has been on its last legs for many years and does not service the building properly to meet accessibility standards.
- The 1981 ACCESS addition is leaking and requires capital to patch ongoing problems.
We could easily spend in excess of $2,000,000 on this building and still have an old building into which to pour money.
- Is the congregation cohesive enough that the majority will remain together through a difficult transition?
The question is deeply personal. We acknowledge the transition will be difficult. Some people will leave for good, some may go and come back to see who we have become in our new home, and many will move forward together with courage or curiosity.
Trinity leadership has recommended that we prepare to move now and explore the downtown community, and refocus on mission, purpose and opportunities, rather than bricks and mortar.
- What evidence do we have that, with Out of the Cold gone, the congregation still wishes to focus its mission in Downtown Kitchener?
For many years of congregational visioning, discerning and focused conversations, the congregation has confirmed that our place is downtown and not in a suburb. Our vision and mission statement were approved as recently as our annual general meeting in February 2015.
Our Trinity MISSION: Inspired by Christ, we are a community of faith in downtown Kitchener. We welcome everyone to join the journey to eliminate barriers to social justice and achieve belonging for all. We engage in partnerships that are committed to supporting:
- housing for those that are marginalized
- those displaced as refugees
- healthy child and family development
- those seeking hope and new beginnings
VISION: Trinity is on a spiritual journey seeking justice for all
The work of the congregation has not been defined by the Out of the Cold program for 1½ years; many were less engaged with that ministry over the last few years. Housing (or home-creating) remains a high priority locally and nationally, as do creating the opportunities for developing healthy families in our community.
From a spiritual sense, our outreach is to create hope and belief in new beginnings. From a justice perspective, Trinity congregation affirmed their support of partnerships that deal with social justice and inclusion. This can be done anywhere. The congregation has been clear that we belong in the city core, where we’ve been for more than 150 years.
- What does it mean to engage a commercial realtor?
A commercial realtor works for the congregations to bring our development vision to the market of potential developers in Ontario with a view to finding the right development partner for realizing the congregation’s vision. It is intended to help identify opportunities and potential where we have been unsuccessful in the local development market.
- Who makes up the Trinity leadership teams?
The Trinity Board of Trustees, Church Board, Ministry Team, and Staff attend on request.
- How are decisions made?
On the matter of land, buildings, other land rights and other major assets, the trustees, the church board and Presbytery are all responsible for the following process:
- Consultation with Trustees: The church board consults with Trustees on the property action required.
- Consultation with Presbytery: The church board/designate, (Trinity Steering Committee) consults with Presbytery.
- Church board decisions: Upon recommendation of Steering committee(s) charged with a decision and the approval of the action at a congregational meeting, the church board (designated to Steering Committee) enters in a congregational property transaction to list the property.
- Resolutions are signed: Permitting Board, Steering Committee and Trustees to proceed to list and receive offers on behalf of the congregation.
NOTE: The Decision Process requires that a negotiated offer to purchase be brought to the congregation for final acceptance or approval. The expiry date on the offer will accommodate this requirement. In accord with the United Church manual we require 15 days notice to hold a Congregational Meeting.
- Offer to Purchase site: Requires approval of the action (sale) at a congregational meeting - (yay or nay)
Pending outcome of congregational vote....
- Church Board and Trustees: The church board directs trustees to proceed with the transaction (sale/partnership agreement) and seek presbytery approval.
NOTE: If the sale is to promote the redevelopment and continuation of the Trinity congregation, Presbytery is consulted.
If the sale is accompanied by a resolution to disband the congregation, Presbytery must approve the sale and arrange to accept the net proceeds.
- The board is accountable to the congregation. Why haven't they been allowed to participate in the very important recent decision-making?
The decision for redevelopment was made by the congregation following years of visioning and congregational forums. Physically moving the congregation is one of the steps to redevelopment.
The recent decision to plan an interim move in 2016 was made by your church leaders, representing a good cross section of the congregation and elected by the congregation at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in February 2015. (As per the constitution appointments may be made to fill vacancies that arise throughout the year with confirmation via elections at the next AGM). Trinity leadership remain committed to the vision of the congregation for redevelopment.
- I know amalgamation was tried with disappointing results, but are there no other possibilities out there?
Yes, we, too, were extremely disappointed when amalgamation failed. Trinity participated actively in the Cooperating Congregation meetings, workshops and dialogues. It was educational, helped build relationships and we still continue to network and reach out to other United churches in the region. We’ve learned that all congregations are trying to find a path to sustainability through renewed mission and purpose. Until we have clarified mission and purpose it is difficult to partner or amalgamate.
- What are the severe financial factors causing us to abandon our building?
First and foremost, the relocation is about mission, purpose and good stewardship. The wonderful, thoughtful, memorial donations to the Legacy Fund were not intended to pay for years of operating expenses and building maintenance that we cannot support due to lack of members. Our shortfall is more than one-third of the annual budget. Maintenance and operational costs are exorbitant; the boiler is failing and hydro bills alone are approximately $16,000 annually. The building renovations required to achieve compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) are out of reach. Trinity leadership believes that our memorial donations need to support mission, purpose and community engagement.
- What about our Trinity staff? Will they still have jobs if we move?
Yes. We are moving a congregation and will still require our minister and lay support as usual. We appreciate the difficulty of uncertainty and will try to keep them informed of our progress.
- Is there any way to be informed about newspaper interviews before they appear in print?
We are learning that the media can call when we least expect it and do an interview and not print it. We have learned that what goes to print may not necessarily reflect the conversation you thought you had. The headlines are crafted by a designated third-party writer in Hamilton, as the Record goes to print at midnight. The headline is constructed to pull the reader in to read the story.
We do not have a media relations expert on staff; our volunteers are doing their best.
- What about the organ?
Trinity leadership understands the concern for our pipe organ. As noted above, It’s premature to comment on how that will be handled before we have selected a new location. Your Trinity trustees and leadership will ensure that there is appropriate dialogue and consideration given to the organ.
- Where can we take our questions?
There is ubiquitous access to church leadership (Board, Ministry Team, Steering Committee Chair). ANY church member may call ANY board member at ANY time with a complaint, concern or compliment. The next congregational conversation facilitated by L3 is March 5th 2017. In addition:
A Suggestion Box has been reinstated in the front access. A second one will be installed in the side foyer beside the office. They will be emptied once a week for Board review.
A new e-mail address has been created, firstname.lastname@example.org for you to send your questions, concerns, comments and suggestions. There is also a new form on our website where you can write the board.
There is an OPEN INVITATION to any and all church members to be involved, get involved. Be the change you wish to see at Trinity. All Trinity ‘groups’ are reported in every annual report and in the church directory and appear on the website.
Leadership roles are listed in FAQ (item #9). Anyone interested in getting involved in church leadership is invited to speak to the minister or anyone currently involved in this way.
- When will we move to an interim location (St. Matthews)?
We will move when there is a decision on our building at 74 Frederick; St. Matthews will be available by end of the summer of 2017.