January 24, 2024

Lessons Learned: Stewardship of the Church Home

The church is a home for God’s people. Just like your personal home, you come and celebrate happy moments, bond together with loved ones through tough times, and create memories to serve a lifetime. To truly care for your home, it's essential to have a solid plan in place for any future improvements, renovations, or emergencies that may arise.

For the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, TX that plan was supported through two Facility Audits completed by the team at Building Solutions. A Facility Audit is a vital tool for arming church leadership with the knowledge to accurately prepare operating budgets, guide capital campaigns, and direct long-range planning to positively serve its church body through good stewardship of the church home.

The first audit, prepared in 2013, helped allocate financial responsibility between the shared site of the Church and the parish school. This was a cornerstone of discernment as it allowed for a defined and equitable allocation of cost responsibility between the school and the church. The second audit, prepared in 2018, was vital to recognizing the visible and invisible (but very real) needs of the Church. This helped steer a successful capital campaign that exceeded expectations by addressing functional issues such as lighting systems, new pews, renovating the sacristy, and presenting the Church's stained-glass windows in a better light. The campaign also allowed for raising money for acting on the invisible facility needs that needed to be addressed.

One invisible need the facility audit called for was the upcoming need for a roof replacement. The building had a slate roof nearing the end of its useful life (50 years). From the successful capital campaign, bolstered by the 2018 Facility Audit, the raised money allowed the Church to move forward on a unique opportunity.

On his very first visit to the church’s campus nine years ago, Fr. Casey Shobe, the church’s rector, imagined the large rooftop of the nave covered in solar cells. This would help the church pursue the twin goals of strengthening environmental stewardship and reducing operational costs. When Tesla announced the development of solar cell roof tiles, it created how the church could bring this dream to reality.

The solar cells' return on energy efficiency for the Church outweighed the initial cost. Because of proper planning and information from the Facility Audit, the Church leadership proceeded with this roof replacement, enhancing the church experience for its members as well as becoming better stewards of “this fragile earth, our island home (BCP, 370)”.

Much like our walk with Christ, we must be proactive toward our deficiencies and not let them become emergencies. Similar to how the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration addressed issues before they arose, we must also do the same in our faith. Maintain those internal “facilities” and be close to Christ and his church body, so that an emergency doesn’t take you away from the path and cause unnecessary stress or anxiety. Be stewards of your home, financial plans, and the Earth as shown through the example of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.