Yes! We are! On Tuesday, February 9th and Thursday, February 11th the Camp Hill and Grace Councils voted to affirm this statement: “As two separate congregations, we agree to an informal ministry partnership with Grace UMC/Camp Hill UMC, serving the West Shore community.” Initial plans include that will be sharing in a post-Easter sermon series and Bible study in addition to preparing to share in community acts of service over the summer! There is still the possibility of acquiring the Calvary UMC building in Lemoyne, since Calvary’s congregation officially closed their doors last year.
We exist to love God and are empowered by Jesus’ love and authority, as we are drawing near to others in meaningful relationships, embracing tangible opportunities to serve, and sharing God’s great news with the world so that strangers become family.
Five guiding scriptures:
Did you miss the first three Town Hall discussion of possible partnership between Grace and Camp Hill UMCs with the possible acquisition of the Calvary UMC building? Watch all three Town Hall meetings below. The next Zoom Town Hall is not yet determined.
At your convenience.
We need (and this discernment process needs) your prayer!
What should I do?
If you’re able to go outside, we invite you to put on your warm clothes and go with your COVID bubble to walk a circle of prayer around the Calvary UMC building, asking God for clarity of vision for our two churches, as we move forward in decision making. If you have time, continue to pray through the streets of Lemoyne! Before you go home, take a selfie, and post it to any social platform with #prayersforlemoyne. If you’re not able to be out in the cold, we invite you to pray prayers of discernment over the pictures of the building that we share here!
Where do I go?
The address of the Calvary building is 700 Market Street, Lemoyne, PA, 17043. Parking is found around the back.
While we’ve been doing some number crunching to work on questions of proportionality, it’s first important that you know that no one has voted on the numbers you are about to see. They are simply one part of our discernment process.
District Superintendents do quite a lot of work on proportional responsibility with various churches in the Conference, and so we are looking at some formulas that are sometimes used in that work. The formulas involve comparing percentages of what each church brings to the table and then averaging them to find a final proportional percentage of responsibility. Here is what that might look like for Camp Hill UMC and Grace UMC:
• Of the total amount that the two churches pay in Shares of Ministry, Camp Hill pays 83% and Grace pays 17%.
• Of the total amount of giving units between the two churches…Camp Hill has 83% and Grace has 17%
• Of the total amount of members between the 2 churches Camp Hill has 69% and Grace has 31%
• Of the total amount of worship attendance between the 2 churches Camp Hill has 79% and Grace has 21%.
• Averaging those statistics out would bring us to Camp Hill at 78.5% and Grace at 21.5% of responsibility.
As is mentioned above, we are not using that proportional percentage now, nor have we agreed to in the future, but we wanted to share with you a some of the numbers that go behind this (and other churches’) wider discernment processes. Camp Hill is clearly a much larger church in people and giving than Grace, even though both churches are vibrant churches in their own right. So, there would be many factors to consider.
• We’re in the process of getting a professional inspection of the building now that will give us a better idea of any potential maintenance issues that would create costs for the building in the future. But the up front purchase of the building, itself, is estimated at less than $5000 ($100 for the building and then legal and transfer fees) – when the building was selling for $475,000, so in terms of cost at the outset, we can certainly afford it.
• We will know more about maintenance and renovations after the inspection is done and we can get some contractors in there. We also have the advantage of the fact that there is a daycare already inhabiting the building that provides income, and the daycare has substantial room to grow from about 31 kids who are already there to the 71 that they are licensed for. So, if we help them grow the daycare and include other income-generating strategies like the pop-up restaurant vision, then the building can help pay for itself.
• We also know that both of our congregations are faithful in stewardship and practice extravagant generosity in order to fulfill compelling visions that help us to be a church passionate about sharing Jesus with our neighbors.
• Camp Hill UMC recently applied for a $75,000 grant for security upgrades through the State of Pennsylvania. We have also received smaller grants in the thousands for various ministries and missions from family foundations.
• The Equipping Vital Congregations Office on the Conference level offers grant opportunities both on the micro-grant level of approximately $1000 or less and also larger-scale grants for large ministry projects and growth opportunities. Proceeds from churches that are sold in the Conference go into funds distributed on the District level to new church starts and strategic proposals for church growth.
Yes! The amount in that fund is $26,329.
• In 2017, we paid off $66,590 through the Embrace Initiative. In 2018, we paid off $43,443 also through the Embrace Initiative. In 2019, we paid off $6094, and in 2020, paid off $8172. So, that’s a total of $124,299 paid in debt principal over the past 4 years.
• The current loan balance is: $892,077
• Much of this debt was accrued between 8 and 20 years ago when the Conference was a bit more lax about church loan repayment. That more laissez faire approach has changed over the past few years, and the Conference now runs their loan programs much more like a regulated bank. The Camp Hill Unified Leadership Council is this year looking into possibilities for refinancing the debt.
Not specifically. We have a “building fund” that is presumed for our current building.
Grace UMC has no debt.
• We have been extremely grateful for the generosity of the Camp Hill UMC family in 2020. Given the global pandemic, we feel positive about our ability to steward our budget faithfully and cover important and regular expenses in 2021. The fourth quarter of 2020 did show a 21% decrease in giving in comparison to 2019’s fourth quarter, but the first several weeks of January have shown above normal giving numbers, which lead us to believe that checks were most likely delayed in the mail in the holidays. We feel good about the financial start to the year.
• Grace UMC finished the year approximately $16,000 in the red. Our 3rd and 4th quarter of giving decreased by approximately 30 percent in comparison to 2019. However, our investments (although some restricted) did well (approximately +$10,000). Grace does not have any debt at all, and we are coming off of a year that we had to spend approximately 70,000 in capital repairs (roof and masonry). We can reasonably expect that we will not have to spend that amount in the coming year, although there are some deferred maintenance items that will need to be addressed.
• If the churches took possession of the building, the two churches would need to split the cost of the real estate transfer fees, which are minimal. The conference is also charging $100 for the building, which would be split between the two churches, as well.
• The current custodian and secretary (both of whom work very limited hours) would, indeed, remain on staff at least through the end of June 2021. They are being paid by the Conference Trustees. If we took possession of the building prior to the end of June, the cost of funding the custodial and secretarial salaries through the end of June would fall to us, as churches.
• The Conference Trustees have shared with us that they are willing to give us reasonable time to make a final decision about the building. June is a strong possibility. They are grateful that we continue to show them that we are intentionally working through the discernment process in good faith. If we reached a point where we could no longer do that and felt that the venture was not viable, we would need to let them know immediately.
• We believe the answer to this is both/and. In reality, all of our church buildings function currently on that both/and model, as well. Important to note, however, is that we have developed a “why” statement for our partnership, and we would want to be very intentional about sifting all activity in the building through the “why” statement and through a team that works together in partnership so that the building would not become simply a dumping ground for ministries and rental agreements that we can’t have anywhere else.
• We are considering a number of innovative income-generating streams that would help to fund ministry – but again, they would all need to adhere to the “why” statement.
• The Lemoyne Borough has a transfer tax exemption for religious organizations. So, while we will owe some minimal transfer fees, we will not be taxed on this transfer.
• Even in regular years, pledged income is never enough to cover the full budget. Many people give to Camp Hill UMC who do not choose to pledge. As much as we wish we could have all of those numbers in the year prior, we work with calculations from past years’ giving – both pledged and unpledged to set our yearly budget. The Unified Leadership Council feels that they have set a budget that adequately covers regular expenses and leaves some wiggle room for expansion. Because of the uncertainty of the pandemic and the stage at which we were considering the receipt of Calvary in the Fall, the ULC was in agreement that another close inspection (and perhaps revision) of the budget may be necessary in the Spring, depending on how the pandemic and the partnership unfolded.
• It has not been a part of the culture at Grace to secure pledges. However, Grace’s Church Council will be meeting to place a revised budget in place as soon as the 2020 financial information is available.
• This will depend on the way we set up the ministry partnership between Grace and Camp Hill. Both churches would clearly need to contribute revenue to support the ministry. We are also aware that Conference funding from the Equipping Vital Congregations office is available for just such creative ministry upon approved application. Additional non-profit funding could be pursued, depending on the type of ministry housed in the building.
• We are so delighted to hear about peoples’ passion for youth and young adult ministry! These are passions that our churches have shared for many years, as well.
• As we’ve done quite a lot of research on the needs of Lemoyne in particular (demographic studies and also reaching out to community leaders) those are not two of the primary ministry areas needed that come to light for that particular mission field – at least at the moment, but we certainly are open to possibilities, as we continue to develop visions for the Calvary space!
• In terms of a meal ministry, the pop-up restaurant idea would not be free. We would need to coordinate arrangements with the restaurant owner we would be hosting. It would also be an income-generator.
• But, there are many models of meal ministry that we could try, some of which do have a donation or tiered pricing component but are free to those who can’t afford it!
• Some of the most faithful and successful churches in the country are churches that have developed second, third, and more campus sites in the regions in which they serve. This multi-campus model has proven in many cases to be more sustainable and more effective in disciple-making than one very large campus that creates a central magnetism instead of creating community-based ministry that meets people in the neighborhoods where they already are.
• Often, those additional sites are housed in former church buildings. One of things that those churches have learned and taught is that the building itself is rarely the reason that ministry has been unsustainable. Often, an old building simply needs a new vision and the energy and resources of a congregation that is already vital and healthy for ministry to expand and grow there.
• The daycare has been a viable, responsible tenant for the past 20 years at Calvary. A prior Calvary pastor has shared that they were always good tenants to work with and that they had a positive relationship in supporting various aspects of the daycare programming.
• The daycare has a capacity of 71 students. Currently, there are 31 students plus 7 students in the before-school/after-school program. They have an intentional plan this year to grow their enrollment to 53 students. Pre-Covid, they had a stable enrollment of between 36 and 45 students that adequately covered their expenses.
• The conversations previously held with various members of Camp Hill, Grace, and Conference leadership were exploratory and involved a number of different potential buildings and partnerships. They had not yet reached a level of clarity where congregational conversation on a wide level would have been possible.
• Additionally, the Calvary building, specifically, was not an option on anyone’s table until the Calvary congregation abruptly decided to close in June of 2020. The summer was a great time of transition not only for Camp Hill UMC but also with some key renewal leaves taking place in the Conference office. It really was only at the end of September that the two Camp Hill full time pastors and the Grace UMC pastor started a more focused conversation, which we opened up to our Councils and now the wider congregations as soon as possible after gathering necessary information from the Conference Trustees.
• We shared with our congregations the back story of previous discussions with joy – realizing from our perspective that the Holy Spirit has been working in us and through some of those wider conversations for a very long time, as we’ve seen at the end of 2020 many of those puzzle pieces coming into focus much more clearly.
• We are in ongoing conversation with the Earl Besch Food Pantry about their need for space.
• If, in conversation with the church partners, they made the final decision to set up a permanent location within the Calvary building, those funds could be used for any renovations necessary to assist with their set-up.
• If they decide to purchase or build permanent space in another location beyond the Calvary building, the $20,000 is still available to them for that purpose.
• The Earl Besch Food Pantry began out of the Camp Hill UMC / New Hope Ministries Backpack program and has expanded extensively, but it specifically supports only students and their families in the Camp Hill School District who are food insecure. The Earl Besch Food Pantry recipients do receive information on New Hope Ministries where they can get additional support through social workers and job placement assistance, etc. That connection to wider, sustainable resources is still extremely important. One exciting thing about ongoing partnership with Earl Besch is that it truly creates a ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ dynamic within the local community.
• While the Earl Besch folks would prefer to be housed in the Camp Hill Borough, where all of the clientele reside, their greatest desire is simply to have a permanent space that is reasonably local. Currently, they are housed in the Fiala Building but will be moving into the Camp Hill UMC Chapel in February. The Chapel is only viable as a temporary location because of the many other ministry uses for that room. The Food Pantry is working toward building a small new building to support their work permanently in Camp Hill, but having space, even if it was in Lemoyne, where they could come and go as needed may be helpful in this season of transition.
• As now the Community Pastor, the Calvary ministry would certainly be one of the areas of ministry in Pastor Anna’s wheelhouse, but because this is a partnership, we are really looking more at establishing a Calvary team that would include people from both churches to supervise the vision and implementation of that vision in the building. We aren’t currently planning to hire anyone new to oversee that process.
• Both Grace and Camp Hill UMCs are wonderfully vibrant and active churches. Our buildings are used heavily and well for many forms of both church and community ministry.
• Regularly, at Camp Hill UMC, we have to turn groups away or intensively juggle the schedule to create space for all of the ministry that could and should be happening. There are often overlaps and conflicts – even, perhaps surprisingly, during Covid. For example, Camp Hill UMC had to turn down requests from several recovery groups who were seeking space during Covid because we could not guarantee them access to space when we emerged from the pandemic. The ultimate decision for them not to come temporarily was in their hands; however, it would have been optimal to be able to say that we could host them during Covid – and beyond.
• Regularly, we have to ask ourselves, if we’d like to try a new ministry, where would we put it? Sometimes, the answer has to be, we simply don’t have the space.
• Grace UMC has historically hosted a number of recovery programs and understand those programs to be a vital part of their ministry. They also, however, run into space and time constraints when trying to launch new and fresh ministries.
• Fresh Expressions of Church can take a wide variety of forms, some of which require space for preparation and empowerment of leaders – but not for the actual ministry. Other forms require specific space considerations for the ministries themselves to take place.
• We believe that Covid has unleashed Spirit-filled imagination within our church communities – and the wider community, and we believe that God is calling us to ministries that we have not yet fully solidified or dreamed of yet.
• Similarly, sometimes new scenery inspires refreshed visions of what is possible even through the eyes of the same people. What inspiration could a new ministry setting that is neutral for the two churches in partnership offer to people who have been serving for a long time?
• This is not currently being discussed at the council/church level. While we would certainly be open to where the Spirit might lead, this is not currently a part of the discussion.
• The discussion at this point is focused on developing a strong partnership between the two churches.
• The timeline is entirely in our hands. The daycare will continue to meet in the building for as long as we support its presence, continuing to bring ministry partnership possibilities and income to support the running of the building.
• We agree that returning to in-person worship and gathering in response to Covid is going to be a slow, incremental process over the next year.
• New ministries and growth in old ones could still occur in the Calvary building even if we are not reaching the full capacity of our current buildings yet post-covid.
• Also, it’s important to clarify that we do not anticipate moving our current worship services into a different building. While that might be a long-term possibility, simply shifting our current worship services into new space is not the goal.
• Yoga Chapel is a Fresh Expression of Church launched by Camp Hill UMC that has powerfully touched over 120 lives since its genesis in 2018. While some sabbath breaks are taken by the leaders each year, Yoga Chapel has continued to run through Covid and is now operating with a hybrid in-person/Zoom model every Thursday.
• Camp Hill UMC launched a Fresh Expression at the West Shore YMCA where people come together for conversation about God. Those connections have also continued to be fostered during Covid through the phone.
• Camp Hill UMC has also been in a long discernment process about how to launch a Dinner Church. Plans are currently being prayed over with hopes of launching a covid-safe model in this season.
• Clearly, not all Fresh Expressions thrive, just as not all churches survive. As we’ve experimented with various expressions of church, Bar Church, and a hoped for Fresh Expression reaching out to veterans didn’t make it. We never expected that all our efforts would succeed. We still believe God is calling to try new things – sometimes to fail – to learn from those experiences, and to try again.
• The most important thing to us is to keep at the forefront of our minds and hearts those in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and favorite coffee shops who do not yet have a faith community – who have possibly never experienced the unending love of God for them – such that it spurs us on to continue to try everything fresh we can until they know that love for themselves.
• Salt n’ Light is currently housed in the Potter’s House Camp Hill UMC Office Building basement. Several Salt n’ Light staff have toured the new building and are interested in further discussion about possible expanded programming in the Calvary building or office space. Nothing has been decided at this time.
• Dinner Church does not yet exist in our community but is an idea for a Fresh Expression of Church that has actually been discussed by both Grace and Camp Hill UMC in separate conversations.
• Fresh Expressions are creative forms of church developed for our changing culture and established primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet part of any church. They are anchored to the best parts of institutional churches’ theology and traditions while being unbound from some of the structures that tend to be hurdles for many people who struggle to connect with the traditional forms of church.
• A hope for Calvary is that we will not reproduce it as a “traditional” church space – but rather as a sacred space for shared ministry that is as accessible as possible to all. Perhaps it might become a space that folks would feel welcome to attend for Dinner Church in the Fellowship Hall – a space where people could post-COVID cook and share in prayer, worship, learning and fellowship around meals, just as Jesus did.
• Calvary’s doors officially closed in June of 2020, so they are no longer a gathering congregation. There is a daycare still meeting, as a tenant in the building. Because Calvary is no longer a congregation, we are not merging with them. We are instead trying to discern if their previous building and land might be life-giving for a joint ministry partnership with the other active United Methodist Church in Lemoyne – Grace UMC.
• A detailed partnership agreement would need to be created with the assistance of a lawyer to determine how shortfalls would be covered in future. A law firm in Lemoyne has been identified to help us with such work.
• This also would be determined through the work of the Councils, Pastors, and the team shaping the partnership agreement with the advice of the lawyer.
• Grace and Camp Hill UMCs are both congregations that have a wide spectrum of theological perspective represented. We believe this speaks positively to our capacity to cooperate through the ongoing wider UMC discernment process.
• It’s important to note here, as well, that the Susquehanna Conference’s Annual Conference in June has recently been moved into an all-zoom format where no controversial material will be discussed. There is also ongoing conversation about a similar decision possibly being made for the global General Conference that is scheduled to happen at the end of August this year. Therefore, we are currently in a kind of holding pattern as to the unfolding of a denominational split.
• The building would be like our current buildings. It would be held in Trust by the church or churches, and the deed would have to contain the United Methodist Trust Clause. But, if we sold the building, the proceeds would stay with the existing churches.
• The reason that the Conference Trustees currently have possession of the former Calvary building is because the former Calvary congregation closed. If a whole congregation closes, that is when the property then reverts back to the Annual Conference. So, the only way the Calvary building deeded to us would be given back to the Annual Conference is if both Grace and Camp Hill UMC fully closed, as congregations.
• There are extra toys that are not left outside in view that are housed in the storage shed next to the play area; however, the outdoor play area could certainly use some upgrades.
• One possible vision for future development is to remove the trailer currently on the church property and in its place, develop an upgraded playground.
• We have a guesstimate number of $54,000 on rubber roof repair and shoring up some of the slate. We are currently aware of no leaks in the slate roof, although it is old.
• All old buildings have asbestos tiles. At this stage we are not aware that the asbestos has been uncovered in any places requiring intervention. Future renovation plans would hopefully include covering the asbestos tile with new flooring and sealing it in preventing any further issues.
• Our Facilities Manager and the Calvary Custodian have done thorough walk-throughs of the building, including climbing into the roof. There are a number of maintenance items we need to consider, so we are working on getting clearer estimates and timelines for those items.
• We are currently in the process of hiring a professional building inspector to give us a full picture of all possible repair and maintenance issues.
• We are working on developing visions that are both short term and long term. There are a number of things we could do with the space immediately without the need to renovate. Other visions would require both minor and major renovations. Currently, the questions we’re asking ourselves are – “What kind of ministry partnership is God calling us into, and what would be possible with the building that would not be possible any other way?”
• Maintenance would become our responsibility, should we receive the property.
• The trailer on the Calvary property is no longer occupied. The Conference Trustees cleaned the trailer in 2020 and placed it on the market. It is currently not on the market, as the Conference Trustees have agreed to gift us the trailer and its property, should we decide to move forward with ownership of the Calvary building.
• There was income from the trailer prior to the decision to place it on the market. Should we receive the property, we could decide if we wanted to pursue hosting a renter or if we wanted to remove the trailer and use the land for another purpose.