By Tracy Walker
You may have noticed the multiple notices about Calvary St. Andrews in recent Third Church communications and wondered why. The answer is that Third Church has “adopted” Calvary St. Andrews (CSA) during a transition period.
In recent years, CSA experienced a drop in membership and attendance due to multiple factors. They finally reached the point where they were unable to support their ministry or their building, so they requested that Presbytery dissolve the congregation. An Administrative Commission (chaired by John Wilkinson, and included Third Church members Linc Spaulding and Tracy Walker) was established by the Presbytery to discern how to proceed. After months of discussing options, the Administrative Commission recommended that the congregation be dissolved, Presbytery approved, and the last service was held on Easter Sunday 2017. Third Church agreed to assume oversight of the building and programs during a transition period.
But what to do with the building? There was still a robust Foodlink Food Cupboard and Mobile Food Pantry that provided food for many people each month, as well as a Foodlink garden that provided over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce for the Food Cupboard. Everyone agreed that the building (designed by noted architect Richard M. Upjohn) with its beautiful altar, stained glass windows, and art (by local artist George M. Haushalter) should be protected and preserved. The big question was (and still is) – should the Presbytery retain ownership of the building, or should the building be sold to a developer and space leased back? Purchase bids were sought, received, and discussed, but no consensus could be reached regarding how to proceed.
Many of us felt that this was a unique building, in a strategic location, with a history of activism for social justice and ties to prominent local families (e.g. Sibley, and Ellwanger). That this was an opportunity to try something new in the Presbytery. To this end, three distinct, but overlapping, groups (1 existing and 2 new) have been working to effectuate programs that will be able to address community needs while generating enough income to maintain the building.
- Food Ministry – The Foodlink Food Cupboard, Mobile Food Pantry, and Community Garden have all been in existence for many years and serve an important role in meeting the food needs of the poor. This group is working to increase the neighborhood and community support, both financially, and with volunteers.
- ROC SALT (Service And Learning Together) is a new initiative to create a center that:
“Engages diverse groups in service and learning experiences through an innovative and immersive experience that combines mission partnerships, spiritual reflection, and education, while meeting critical and basic needs of our neighbors around issues of poverty and justice.”
- Friends of Calvary St. Andrews (FoCSA) – a new group of volunteers founded to protect, preserve, and promote the history and legacy of the building and the congregations that worshipped there. This means:
- Working to find appropriate uses of the Chapel, Sanctuary, and property as a way of raising funds while promoting community (e.g. recitals, lectures, rehearsal space, special events, etc.)
- Seeking donors, sponsors, and grants to help meet the expenses of maintaining, preserving, and enhancing the building and the art contained therein.
- Promoting the history of the congregation – the social activism and the prominent local families.
There is a lot happening at Calvary St. Andrews, and Third Church members are playing an active role in this endeavor. It is an exciting time to be involved, and I hope that you will thoughtfully consider either getting involved personally, or through responding to specific requests as they appear in future church communications.
On Sunday, October 15, 2017, from 2:00 – 4:00 PM there will be an Open House with an unveiling of the new Landmark plaque, music (the Austin organ will welcome everyone), light refreshments, and lots of historical information about the beautiful artwork (windows, murals, marble altar piece, etc.). All are welcome to stop in and see the beauty of this historic building – and perhaps help us dream of what the future holds at the corner of Averill Ave. and Ashland St.
For more information, contact Tracy Walker – [email protected]