Upon This Rock: Capital Campaign & Building Plans

“Upon this rock, I will build my church.”  Matthew 16:18

The church family was invited to the April 25 Church Council meeting to hear updates from the Building and Finance Committees. If you missed the meeting, you can watch the presentation here.

May 2017: Questions and Answers


Why are we doing this project?

In 2012/2013, the Long-Range Planning Committee studied AFUMC’s worship attendance, membership, giving, ministry participation, volunteers, congregation and community demographics.  They met with church members, ministry leaders and staff to understand the dynamics of the data and to develop a strategy to fulfill the church’s mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.  The committee concluded that the church’s growth had plateaued. They came up with 5 strategic initiatives to change the trajectory from plateau to growth, including the need to expand and modernize our facilities.

As more studies were completed, we determined we have the right capacity in our Sanctuary but inadequate space to support the ministries for people attending worship. Areas identified to be addressed are: large and small group spaces for children and youth, classrooms, and gathering spaces for adults. They also determined that we need to fix accessibility, reduce complexity, and create flow that encourages connection between ministries and people.


What does this project give us in improved or additional space?

Our current existing building is 96,053 square feet. The area proposed to be demolished is 11,223 square feet. New construction is 42,526 square feet. Our total space after demolition and new construction will be 127,356 square feet, a net added building area of 31,303 square feet.

We currently have 15 adult classrooms. The building project will add six, for a new total of 21. Current existing area for adult classrooms is 6,024 square feet. The proposed construction will add 5,716 square feet, for a total of 11,740 square feet of dedicated adult classroom space.  We also gain the use of our Trinity Hall fellowship space which is currently used by our Children’s Ministries every Sunday.

For our children, we’ll build new, secure space that includes a theater for large group and improved classrooms for small group ministry.  We’ll end up with 21,000 square feet of new space for children.

In the Methodist Youth Center, we’re adding 5 classrooms with the remaining space getting a face lift and reconfiguration to provide the space needed for this growing ministry. We’re also adding a deck and made exterior improvements.

Finally, we’ll add 10,000 square feet of gathering space that includes a new guest services area and café, with space to get to know new folks and allow for small groups to gather. We’ll also eliminate our accessibility issues and connect buildings in a way that encourages people to meet one another.


I thought we’d be breaking ground soon – why is this taking so long?

The simple answer is funding. The cost of the project is $10.4 million. We initially received $6.1 million in pledges (November 2015). Leaders have been working to reduce the cost and scope of the project and get more commitments to financially support the project. We’re not there yet. Today, $7.1 million has been pledged.


Why can’t the project be phased?

The master plan involves new space to be built in the open space between Trinity Hall and demolition and replacement of the Main Street building. The children’s theater and classrooms are on the ground floor of the building and span the space from Trinity Hall to Main Street. If we don’t remove the Main Street Building, we won’t benefit from the 10 children’s classrooms, 5 adult classrooms, worship resources rooms and Sanctuary bathrooms that will be built in this area. Because of our limited footprint, a phased approach is difficult and not cost effective.


Are there other master plans we should consider?

The Long-Range Planning Committee looked at many options and narrowed it down to 3 for final consideration. One was less expensive but did not meet the goals and was not recommended. Ultimately, this master plan is the plan the church leadership and the committee believed best met the goals of helping the church move forward.


Can we afford this project?

The Finance Committee is working diligently to answer this question. If we get no more commitments to the Capital Campaign, we will need to fund approximately $250,000 per year in additional debt service through our operating budget. To service the debt, we will need to keep operating expenses flat through 2019 and increase giving to the budget by $200,000 per year through 2019. A review of our financials shows that we have done this over multiple years in the past, and church leadership believes this is certainly possible if the congregation commits to do it.


What is “Above and Beyond,” and how does it relate to the Capital Campaign?

The Capital Campaign is a 3-year commitment and began in January 2016 and ends December 2018. The campaign goal is $10 million. We currently have $7.1 million pledged and have received $4,158,453 as of May 21, 2017.  This is, by far, the most our church has ever raised for any project in the history of AFUMC. Assuming capital pledges/giving do not exceed $7 million, we will need to borrow the remainder of the funds. Debt service on that loan will become part of our ongoing operating budget. For planning purposes, we assume we will receive 90% of pledges, so we’re counting on receiving $6.4 million. That leaves a balance of $4 million to finance. Payments on the new loan will total $250,000 per year, so we’ll need to have more operating income to cover the debt.

In addition, our giving toward the operating budget is falling below expectations, so we’re asking the congregation to give “above and beyond” what you’ve committed to give and help us track our progress by marking your donations “above and beyond” so we can see the level of commitment we can expect for paying the debt. We have 300 families in our congregation who are contributing 70% of the operating income. We have about 1,200 families who give the remaining portion, with many of those families giving nothing to further the ministries and mission of AFUMC. If we all get on board with supporting the ministry of AFUMC, we will have more than enough to support our operations and this building.


What does the church need to move forward, and how will we make a decision?

In any United Methodist Church, projects such as this must be approved by denominational leadership. Our church leaders will meet with the Atlanta-Roswell District Building Committee in June to seek approval for the project. At the same time, the Building Committee will work with the architect and contractor to finalize the drawings and get final pricing. We will have a guaranteed, fixed price from the contractor by August 15. Once we have a guaranteed price and, assuming we have commitments of increased giving to give church leaders the confidence needed to move forward, we will call a Church Conference. All members present at that meeting will be able to vote on the future of the project.


Will the new children’s rooms be multipurpose use for both Children’s Ministries and our weekday Mothers’ Morning Out and AFUM Preschool and Kindergarten?

The new children’s building will have multipurpose space used by both our Children’s Ministries and our weekday MMO and AFUMP&K programs. Classrooms will be shared for weekday classes and Sunday School. The Children’s Theater will host Sunday Elementary Children’s Worship and AFUMP&K’s music classes. Children’s Ministries will have the following spaces designated for their use only:

— Preschool Ministry Large Group Room

— Special Needs Room equipped for children

— Space for Fourth and Fifth Grade Ministry on the second floor


I’ve heard the upgrades at the Methodist Youth Center were cut from the project. Is this true?

The work at the Methodist Youth Center (MYC) was taken out of the scope to be done by the commercial contractor and will be done by a residential contractor instead. After input from Student Ministry, the Building Committee made the decision to eliminate the connecting walkway between the MYC and the Main Street Building. This will give the youth more usable green space for activities. Once this was removed from the plan, the work to be done at the MYC is well within the bounds of a residential contractor. We will still add 5 classrooms, rework interior walls and add a deck on the back of the MYC. This change will save a significant amount of money and still give Student Ministries the space they need for this growing ministry.


What’s the best-case scenario on when we can break ground, and what are the plans for staff offices, Preschool/MMO and worship during construction?

Assuming all of our financial needs are met, we could break ground as early as September 2017.  Construction is expected to take 12 months. The first step will be the demolition of the Main Street building so that the Trinity Hall expansion can begin. This would displace 7 staff people, two workrooms, 3 Preschool classrooms, and 2 adult Sunday School classrooms. Staff and workrooms will likely be located in the Hope House located next to the Academy buildings. We’ll also look at utilizing space in the MYC and Bagley House. We’ve already made provisions for the Preschool classes to meet within their space on the second floor of Trinity Hall.

Van Winkle Construction has worked on many church projects and will work with us on logistics throughout the project. Other than construction walkways to protect people as we walk to and from the Sanctuary, construction should not interrupt Sunday worship or Wednesday evening activities.

A message from Senior Pastor Dr. Don Martin:

We had an outstanding Church Council meeting this past Tuesday evening. Building Committee Chair Arthur Letchas presented the plan for construction that I hope will begin this fall.

Our Building Committee has done excellent work. The changes and additions to our campus solve longstanding problems and create new opportunities to serve the people of the Alpharetta area. We will have a clear “front door” off Cumming Street. We will have a large gathering area where people can hang out and meet one another. We will promote our activities and service opportunities in this gathering area. We will create a new children’s building that will help us communicate the love of Jesus to children and their families. We will build new administration and education space that fronts Main Street. We will update the Methodist Youth Center so it functions more effectively for years to come.

This construction presents a real challenge for us because the cost will be approximately $10.5 million dollars. We wish we could make these changes in phases, but this approach is not wise or feasible. Larry Lascody and our Finance Committee presented the risks that come with debt. They also made us aware of the importance of our yearly cash flow.  Last year was the first time in more than a decade that we finished the year with a negative cash flow. We spent $161 thousand dollars more than we received.

We clearly need to tighten our belt on the expense side — and increase giving to the general ministry budget of the church right away. So, I am asking you to give more to your church before school is out. This will help our Finance Committee gain confidence that we can begin this construction and keep the lights on and ministries rolling at the church. I’m giving an extra $1,000 to the general budget life of the church today. I challenge you to do the same. Your gift may not be the same amount. Some should give more, and others will need to give less. The size of the sacrifice is what truly matters, not the size of the gift. 

The good news is that we now have collected over $4 million dollars for construction. The great news is that we will likely break ground in September, if you respond generously to this specific challenge.

Stepping forward in faith to build and serve will give us the opportunity to win men and women, boys and girls to Jesus Christ. Say your prayers today and ask God to show you what He wants our church to do and what He wants you to do. We will gather the church in June to vote and decide. Let’s do this.

To give by check, please write your check to AFUMC and note “Above and Beyond” on the memo line.

Since the 1800s, Alpharetta Methodist has shared the gospel of Jesus Christ in our community. When we look back, we see a rich heritage of welcoming people and inviting them to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

The City of Alpharetta is growing at a rapid pace, with the downtown area being revitalized and tens of thousands of people expected to move into neighboring communities in the next several years. Our church’s pastors, ministry leaders and members prayer often about how we can best share the good news of Christ in the face of these challenges.

“Upon this Rock” Capital Campaign

Alpharetta Methodist hired Dr. Michael Vilardo, of Transforming Christian Ministries, who guided the church in a capital campaign with a preliminary goal of $10 million during 2015. Church members Ron and Pam Schiftic served as co-chairs for the Capital Campaign Committee.

The Building Plans

The campus-wide building plan developed by Alpharetta Methodist’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRP) and CDH Architects updates our facilities to best meet the following objectives.

  • How do we reach the next generation with the good news of Jesus Christ?
  • How do we welcome the next guest?
  • What’s the next step in discipleship?
  • How do our facilities impact those goals?

The $10 million building plan includes:

  • Improved and expanded space for Children’s Ministry
  • New gathering spaces for fellowship and connection
  • A friendly and convenient front door for the church
  • Improved flow throughout the campus and effective placement of ministry areas
  • Renovations to the Methodist Youth Center that add more classrooms and two decks where youth can spend time in fellowship together.

View the building plans and architectural renderings.

Get answers to frequently asked questions.

Old Coins Can Help Us Achieve Our Capital Campaign Goal

Do you have some old coins stashed away? Are you hanging onto them, thinking they might be worth more than face value? Our Finance Office can put you in touch with a member of the church who’s a qualified coin collector/dealer. He will appraise and buy the coins, with the provision that the proceeds go to the Upon This Rock Capital Campaign. In addition, he will tithe, over and above his pledge, 10 percent of the value of the coins he purchases. Contact Financial Administrator Connie Powell to learn more.

July 2016 Update:

September 2016 Update: Church Council approves contractor

On August 23 members of the Church Council unanimously approved entering into pre-construction planning with Van Winkle Construction.   The Building Committee sent out RFPs (requests for proposal) to 10 construction companies and ultimately invited four outstanding companies to participate in interviews. After seeking and receiving the endorsement of the Finance and Trustees Committees, the proposal was made to the Church Council to select Van Winkle. Van Winkle has been in business for 85 years and 80 percent of their previous projects have been churches. They also have extensive experience managing building projects on active campuses. This will be significantly important as we continue the normal activities of the church in the midst of the project. For more information on Van Winkle and their past projects, visit www.vanwinkleco.com.


The Building Committee will now move into the next phase of pre-planning for the $10 million project, including preparing an inventory of furnishings and equipment, meeting with ministry areas for more detailed design, and working with CDH engineers and designers in pre-construction testing and planning. The Building Committee will also begin working with Finance and Trustees to begin financial forecasting to determine when we will begin construction. Typically, we would need one-third of the project cost in the bank in order to break ground. For planning purposes, we will be ready to break ground in June 2017, if we have secured the funding needed.


We have received 523 pledges totaling $6,602,685, of which $2,285,566 has been received. If you have not yet considered your pledge/gift, we encourage you to seek God to determine how you can be part of the vision He has given us for the future of the church and community.

May 2016 Update


October 2015 Update