"For I Know The Plans I Have For You"
Below is full text of Church of the Redeemer, Houston Senior Warden's letter dated Dec. 14, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At our parish meeting on December 5, the Vestry updated our congregation on the Facility Assessment Project that was initiated in November with the Diocese’s assistance. Bob Schorr, Coordinator for Congregational Development at the Diocese, organized a team led by Tellepsen Builders and Studio Red Architects. A formal recommendation has not been made to the Bishop, and he has made no decision; however, in response to inquiries from our Jr. Warden, Evelyn Broussard, Bob shared his frank assessment of what they’ve learned.

The assessment team completed enough of their work to enable Bob, Tellepsen, and Studio Red to conclude that merely addressing the safety and code compliance issues in the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems would cost approximately $3.5 million. To bring all our buildings into full compliance with current codes could cost twice that much. Furthermore, in their present condition, continuing to occupy our facilities much beyond the first of the year isn’t safe. This condition has also required erecting temporary protection at some of our entrances.

Carolyn Shaver made the first comment after the sad news was shared. She reminded us of St. Paul’s words: “In all things give thanks.”

Bob Schorr expects to submit his recommendation to the Bishop in early January. Following that, the Vestry will meet with Bishop Doyle to discuss options for the future of the people who are Church of the Redeemer. Then we will openly discuss those options with the entire parish. At the parish meeting, Sue Neal reminded us that “A church is people, not a building.”

While this news is difficult to receive, I hope for all of us to remember that we are in the season of Advent, awaiting the celebration of the birth of our Savior. May this sad news of our building not keep us from joyfully observing this holy time with our families and with our church community. Peggy Fergus said at the previous Vestry meeting, “Our building may not have a future, but we do.”

When we learn the date of our last Eucharist in the building, we will have a celebration in the nave of all the good things that have happened within our parish, and we will invite all our past members to join us. This is a place where many people came to know the Lord and to serve Him, a place where many of us were baptized, confirmed, married, and our loved ones buried. It is the place where we have struggled to follow and serve Him, some of us for fifty or more years.

Now and in the days ahead, may we consider Jerry Barker’s words: “As I understand what is happening to the church, this is something God is doing. This is a God thing. We need to listen to what God is saying to us.” In order to obey Him, we must listen to Him in these circumstances of our lives.

For decades we have struggled to grow, but have only become smaller. Even if all our material problems were solved for us, we are so few in number—despite our faithful giving—we cannot afford to pay a Rector, nor could we afford to pay the electric bill if all the air conditioners were working. For years we couldn’t maintain our buildings properly, and only a few of us foresaw what that might ultimately mean. Perhaps this is the offer of a new beginning, a journeying on to somewhere we didn’t plan, but perhaps He did. “We need to listen to what God is saying to us.”

I ask you also to prayerfully consider the words from Jeremiah on the LaROCA tapestry now hanging in our parish hall: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” May we humble ourselves to be obedient to those plans, whatever they may be.

May God bless and keep you always,

Daniel Coleman
Church of the Redeemer
Senior Warden 2010

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