Our entrance foyer is now crowded with the massive metal components of an enormous three-dimensional puzzle that will become our elevator! The flooring is being laid in the church this week, including the labyrinth inset—for which a generous donor has stepped forward! The downstairs washrooms are taking shape, along with electrical improvements in the undercroft. The “Creation Space” that will house our Sunday children’s program is beginning to look like a serviceable room and, thanks to another generous donor, the Excellent Adventure will now have furnishings!
Work is now set to begin on the outdoor ramp that will lead up from the outside corner of the church to the Canterbury Room door. That work was held up when we realized that the original plan would have sacrificed the ivy growing on the west side of the church. It was not inexpensive to come up with an alternative plan and then issue a change order, but we felt it was worth it because of the aesthetic value of the ivy.
The new altar, ambo and font are also nearing completion, with a new matching cross, paschal candle and processional torches to be included as part of the package. The drawings were stunning so we cannot wait to see the finished product. The Bishop has been invited to hold several possible dates for the blessing of these sacred items, as is required before they can be put to use.
As the end of the renovations comes into view (giving thanks to God for the absence of dust, noise and inconvenience) we find ourselves facing a Day of Reckoning. How much work remains, and how much money do we have to accomplish it?
The truly amazing fact is that, at every step along the way, as some doors have closed—like the windows we were going cut in the narthex, looking into the church—others have opened—like the sacristy renovations.
But now it also becomes clear that some features of our original plan simply remain out of reach. So our Excellent Adventure program will have a new and improved location (in the old Bethlehem and Nazareth rooms) but it will not have any chairs and tables, sinks or countertops! Similarly our new chapel will not have room dividers to close it off from the main church (though we have a stunning plan that involves some of our old stained glass windows).
If anyone wonders if perhaps our Open Doors campaign (to raise funds for the project) has ended, it has not. It has remained active throughout the renovations for any who want to make a donation toward the project’s completion. And it has never been more necessary than now. Thanks as always for your incredible generosity!
Great progress is being made on our renovations, prompting us to look ahead to issues relating to their completion. The anticipated completion date is now October 13—Thanksgiving!
We are preparing a Donor Appreciation plaque to hang in our narthex. We will be displaying draft copies in the Memorial Hall over the next few weeks and sending out a copy electronically by email. Your help is needed in one of three ways:
- If you are a donor, please ensure your name is on the list;
- if you are a donor, and your name appears on the list, please confirm the spelling and any other details;
- if you were not a donor, but would like to become one (and have your name on the list) please make a donation to “St. Stephen’s Church” (marked “Open Doors Campaign”) by September 15th.
As renovations have continued, a number of features of the original plan have had to be dropped due to budgetary restraints. So we have developed a Wish List of the items that would bring back some of the elements of our original vision. These include (along with an estimated cost):
- completion of sacristy renovation (to include washroom): $20,000
- furniture for Creation Space (Sunday School & Conference Room): $5,000
- organ upgrades: $50,000
- professional performance-standard piano: $50,000
- padded individual kneeling cushions: $2,500.
If you are interested in donating any of these items, please speak to a member of Corporation or BRAG.
Most weeks meeting for worship down in the lower Memorial Hall seems like a major inconvenience. But it is an excellent opportunity to prepare ourselves for the flexibility the new space will afford us when the renovations are completed upstairs.
When we set up the temporary arrangement in the hall we deliberately chose a semi-circle, with the chairs gathered around the altar and lectern. This allows everyone to be closer to the front, but also closer to one another. It removes the great distance between priest and people that is found in more traditional arrangements. In fact, now the priest sits among the people and simply steps forward to the lectern or altar when it is time to do so.
This arrangement says a number of things about who we are as a faith community. First, it suggests that God is in our midst, rather than somewhere “up there” at the front. Second, it places all God’s people on the same level, as indeed we are. Third, it identifies the entire space—one could say, by extension, the whole world—as sacred and accessible to everyone, not just to a chosen few.
It may appear that we are simply putting in time while updating our worship space. In fact, we are updating the entire way we think about worship. Our temporary set-up downstairs allows us to explore this new understanding and prepare ourselves for taking it with us when we go back upstairs.
Our contractor Karson Builders, has been doing a great job of moving the renovations forward which means that there has been much construction noise, dust and accompanying messiness about our facilities. Acknowledgments and thanks are extended to Brian, Clara, Lynn, Beverley and Eduardo who have been, and will continue to be, working out of our administrative offices in the midst of the ongoing renovation work. Anyone who has been through a home renovation knows that it is not an easy thing to live through so many thanks to everyone who spends their days working at St. Stephen’s for continuing to serve the Parish so well during the challenges presented by a renovation project the scope of Open Doors.
The BRAG committee has been discussing a number of exciting design elements for the Narthex and Sanctuary with the hope there will be sufficient funds remaining to permit the realization of these elements. For example, the pipe organ screens need to be replaced and we hope to create a feature wall to display all of our memorial plaques. In addition, although the two rear windows between the Nave and the Narthex have been removed from the project, we hope to incorporate a design element by introducing glass panels with decorative screens as entry doors into the Nave. This will allow for the transparency we had hoped for without the cost of the larger windows. We therefore would again like to remind those who have pledges stretching over the next few years to please keep your payments coming. It is also not too late to provide a new gift to the Open Doors fund, or to sponsor a specific design feature.
Work continues on our renovations at a brisk pace. The lower level bathrooms are now framed and the fixtures will be on site shortly for our new men’s washroom, women’s washroom and family washroom facilities.
The elevator shaft is close to completion and the elevator will be on site in two weeks time.
As well, the Enmax power service, which incudes a new substation for our expanded power requirements (such as the elevator and the new theatre lighting), will be complete this week. We are now literally powered for the next 100 years!
More to come!
The installation of the new flooring has been underway this past week. The Labyrinth piece of the new flooring has been ordered and will be installed in the main floor area of the Nave. As well, one bank of the new theatre lighting is now in place in the ceiling of the Nave, with the two remaining banks to be installed shortly.
As last reported, BRAG had been concerned about a delay of potentially a considerable amount of time in the Enmax work due to the Calgary flooding (which would have then delayed a number of other elements of the renovations). While flooding issues in Calgary did result in some delay in Enmax being able to get to the work at St. Stephen’s, BRAG is pleased to report that Enmax has now commenced work at St. Stephen’s.
Although not the most glamorous part of the project, our expanded sewer facilities are now in place and work is proceeding full speed ahead on the new lower level washrooms. More to come on the progress on the washrooms and other lower level elements of the project in the coming weeks.
Our Renovations continue to move forward with excellent progress being made. For those who have passed by the church in the past week you will have noticed the large hole that has been dug in front of the main entrance for the installation of the new water and sewer lines. In addition, while we had been cautioned by Enmax that the recent flooding in Calgary would result in a delay of several months in Enmax being able to commence work at St. Stephen’s, we have now been told that Enmax expects to be able to be on site this coming week which is very good news.
Many will also have noticed that the shrubs and flowers have been removed from the flowerbed adjacent to the Canterbury Room entrance. This was necessary in order to accommodate the new entrance ramp. What we did not want to lose however were the beautiful vines on the west-facing wall adjacent to the Canterbury Room entrance. BRAG is therefore in the process of refining the design of the new entrance ramp to ensure that these vines are able to remain in place.
The rolls of new marmoleum flooring have been delivered and the new flooring should be installed in the coming week. As well, the chairs that will replace the pews have been ordered. The finished chairs will be delivered to the church by truck; however, the unloading of the chairs into the church is not included in our cost. Therefore, when the time comes, we will be looking for 30 volunteers to unload the chairs from the delivery truck into the church. Anyone who is interested in volunteering for this should please contact Jean Springer for details.
Stay tuned … more updates on our progress to come!
Right from the start our Building Renewal Action Group (BRAG) has committed itself to managing our renovation project to be debt-free. That meant a decision in principle that we would curtail the scope of the project before borrowing money for its completion. That decision became real this week when two elements of the original design had to be dropped from our plans.
One is the windows that were to open from the narthex (entrance foyer) into the church itself. The idea was to open up the space as much as possible to those who were entering the building, making the worship space visibly accessible to worshipers and visitors alike. But it turns out that the walls in which the windows would be cut contain a low concentration of asbestos, and removing that asbestos would add $10,000 to an otherwise straightforward operation. So for the moment, the windows are gone.
Gone as well is the millwork—the cupboards and counters—we were to install downstairs in the former Nazareth and Bethlehem rooms. Both rooms were being renovated with flexibility in mind, useful both to our nursery and Sunday school programs and to community groups seeking meeting space. The millwork was therefore to accommodate storage and utility for these various uses. But our contingency fund has been eroding so quickly due to hazardous materials removal that we decided to finish the room for use now but leave the details for a later date.
Two major decisions were made this past week. Both were difficult decisions because of their central importance to how we will worship in the newly renovated St. Stephen’s. But it is very exciting!
Right from the start BRAG members have said, “If we get the chairs wrong, the whole project could be compromised!” So for the last month we have been considering three makes and models of chair to replace the pews. The chairs had to be comfortable, attractive, sturdy yet stackable, and not too pricey. So we have selected a model from Imperial Woodworks in Waco, Texas (No. 87 Wood Frame Chair, on their website). It features upholstered seat and back, a rear book rack, kneelers (for the chapel chairs) and it is easily stackable. We will also be commissioning kneeler cushions for those in the main church who choose to kneel.
We have also chosen a design for the new altar, ambo, and font. Jeremy and Matt at MMJT Contemporary have come up with an exquisite design concept for the three pieces that will attract the eye and, placed in proximity to one other, form a focal point for our worship in the new space. Visit their website to see for yourself the stunning work they do.