As you may know, the planned kick-off for the public four-week public phase of the Next90 Building Expansion campaign was originally scheduled for the Sunday after Easter. However, because of the recent General Conference decision and the upcoming Judicial Council decision, our church leadership has decided to extend our Next90 campaign. Watch for updates on activities, now tentatively scheduled for early fall — with the public phase to follow.
“With the uncertainties of what is next for the denomination, we believe this is the prudent thing to do,” explains Dr. Tim Bruster, Senior Pastor. “As conversations take place throughout the denomination over the next several months to move us toward petitions that will go to the regular session of the General Conference in 2020, we know we will know more by late summer and early fall.
“I want to emphasize here that we are not suspending or stopping the Next90 campaign,” Dr. Bruster continues. “Quite the contrary, in fact. This pause allows us to extend our “silent” phase for securing additional lead gifts while we wait and see how the upcoming decisions unfold. We will then be in a much stronger position to evaluate upcoming decisions and shifts and what they may indicate about our Way Forward as a deeply committed community of faith. This additional work and the extension of time and emphasis it allows will provide an even more solid head start to our public phase of the campaign.”
Dr. Bruster says that the work also continues on architectural and construction planning, allowing additional time for our Building Committee to put a finer point to the costs and details of design and construction. This we believe is also an advantage that allows us to anticipate and solve typical building program issues proactively.
Meanwhile, our vision room is open, Sunday mornings and by appointment on weekdays, to all who want to come and learn more and experience the excitement of this vision for themselves. “If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll make a point of stopping in to see this vision for our future laid out in its entirety,” Dr. Bruster says, adding that having more time and opportunity to enjoy this specially created space is also a bonus that can provide more people with a deeper understanding and excitement for how the Next90 Project will fulfill our mission and ministry — and how it fits in with our church’s long legacy of growth in response to ministry needs.
The bottom line? “I really believe that God is at work in all of this,” Dr. Bruster affirms. “Do you remember our first Master Plan, created in 2014? We thought that plan was the way we would go, but for some reason, it generated very little excitement. It also required completely reorienting our campus, and that just didn’t feel quite right for many of us.
“Then we decided that a deeper study of our needs and spaces and projections was called for. We hired HH architects, well known for this kind of thoughtful work with churches, and they came forth with a whole new idea. It involved something none of us on the Building Study Committee had thought of — tearing down a part of the old education building. When they presented that idea with the central rotunda, the excitement and energy in the room really ramped up!”
Dr. Bruster explains that even though our greatest needs were clearly the fellowship rotunda, the children’s wing expansion, and the multipurpose worship space, an in-depth study of downtown parking needs and the interest of several businesses in long-term leases prompted the Building Study Committee to pursue the parking garage plan first because we believed we needed to “strike while the iron was hot.”
It made good sense, he adds, to build the parking garage first to take advantage of the urgent need for parking in Downtown Fort Worth and to provide the church with another source of income. Then XTO announced that they were moving to Houston. Suddenly, the businesses interested in long-term leases decided to put that on hold for a couple of years to see what would happen with office occupancy downtown.
“So, we returned our attention to the whole of the project and began our Focus First Strategic Planning process that sifted through our priorities to discern where God is calling us as a church,” Dr. Bruster says. “In our 2018 Leadership Summit, the culmination of the Focus First process, we identified our number one priority: a building expansion that will allow for expanded ministry and deeper connection within our church.”
This past year our leadership moved forward with a new sense of purpose and engaged in more detailed building planning. We searched, evaluated, and got wonderful consultants on board. The Building Study Committee made presentations to the church, and then on December 9, 2018 the Church Conference voted 90% to 10% to move forward with the capital campaign. “With the help of our consultants, we jumped right into the “silent phase” of the capital campaign and were moving toward the April 28 launch of the public phase of the campaign when the decision of General Conference rocked the foundation of our denomination,” Dr. Bruster says.
“As people of faith, it’s very easy to see, looking back on the winding road we’ve been on so far in this journey, how every twist has led to something better, more complete than we imagined, better equipping and preparing us to move forward,” he adds.
Where do we go from here? Sometimes all we need to know is our next step — and then together we will listen for God’s guidance through whatever unfolds from here.
“So, even in the aftershock of this recent General Conference decision, we’re going to proceed with our Next90 Building Program,” Dr. Bruster assures. “We will continue to take one step at a time in a way that is faithful and prudent. While we can’t ignore what’s going on around us in our denomination, we won’t be defined by it.”
“This is a time of active waiting,” he continues. “I want you to know that we’re still moving forward — with faith in who we are and what we feel God is calling us to do — because that’s what we do. It’s a well-known hallmark of our congregation that throughout history, we’ve never grown as a church when there wasn’t some obstacle that required faith and commitment to overcome.
“We are still the church. Our mission and ministries are still our focus. We continue to define ourselves by our center, Jesus Christ, rather than our boundaries. No matter what happens, we will still Love God, Serve People, and Transform Lives as God calls us to do. That is who we are. And that is who we’ll continue to be.
“I love this church. I love you all, each and every one of you, for the place you hold in our community of faith. The love and commitment to this church we all share is what will keep us strong, now and for the Next90.”