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Updated: May 16, 2023

We have a beautiful campus but we face challenges…

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited! For the first time in a long time, our congregation has the opportunity to enter into in-depth discussions about the future of our beloved property. On Sunday, May 7th, Emmanuel’s Space Use Committee gathered with parishioners to begin to bring the entire community into this discussion. I want to welcome you into the ongoing conversation as we imagine and plan for the future at Emmanuel.

First, some background. Rev. Elizabeth formed the Space Use Committee in 2017 to explore future uses for our property. Some groundwork was completed but the committee suspended its work as we watched the changes brought on by the pandemic. The committee reconvened this past year now that we are seeing the reality of the post-Covid challenges.

What are those challenges? The primary challenge is the increase in expenses, as utility and other costs increase, while at the same time our aging infrastructure requires significant investment. Add to this the fact that our smaller congregation makes us more reliant on rental income. Currently, renters provide 20% of our annual income.

The congregational discussion on May 7th generated a number of creative ideas including rental of the church to another worship community, recruiting additional renters for existing space, e.g., day retreats, dance studios), upgrading the Christian Education building to accommodate a daylong daycare program, adding a story to the Christian Education building for additional rental space, creating an art gallery, and partnering with Mercer Island Visual Arts League on a performance arts facility on our campus. Please think about these ideas, allow them to stimulate additional thoughts, and then please share them with us. We will share what we hear, and seek feedback from everyone.

On May 7th we also heard concerns about what we should consider for any future projects: our non-profit status, limits on the area of impermeable surfaces, seeking planning assistance from the diocese, safety and security for everyone who uses our property, and building on the natural beauty of our grounds as experienced by many Islanders. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Again, please share what you are thinking as well.

Our conversation is just beginning. If you weren’t with us in person on May 7th, it’s not too late! We would love to hear your thoughts and have a survey for you to complete. Additional background information is available here.

Feel free to contact any of the committee members, Lee Stiles, Debbie Wiegand, Sandy Maloof, Alan Reed, as well as Rev. Elizabeth.

On behalf of all our committee members, I hope you enjoy our spring sunshine on your Emmanuel campus.

Debbie Wiegand

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Thanks, Debbie, for this informative note and the invitation to all Emmanuelites to join in. I feel this truly is an important crossroads in our history. We have a huge value in our properties, but also a huge burden. In the 21st Century the work of the church is becoming less about Sunday services and more about how best to evangelize the message of Christ and, in the words of our weekly post-communion prayer, "do the work you have given us to do." Come on everybody! Let's figure out where we go from here!

Alan Reed

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