On my first experience of entering St Martin’s I heard the words echo in my head: “thank you Jesus, a proper English church”. You have to excuse me by remembering that I had just come from five years in Arizona, where there are many fine examples of church architecture, but stylistically English, they are not.
At St. Martin’s we are fortunate to worship in a church where the craftsmen of a past generation employed stone and wood, color and iconography, glass, tile and rich fabric to create an interior that is one of the finest examples of the ecclesiastical Arts & Crafts Movement to be seen anywhere.
Anyone who has recently seen the state of the chapel or climbed the bell tower will be aware of the extensive nature of water damage which, since the storm of January 24
, has now rendered the chapel unusable. I would like to share with you the following update from John Bracken, the Senior Warden:
Repairs to the bell tower and both sets of red doors opening onto Orchard Ave. were authorized by the Vestry in the fall of 2017. A $35,000 grant to help fund the work was received from the Champlin Foundation in December 2017.
The work was supposed to have commenced in the spring of 2018 but was delayed for several reasons. The original estimate for the cost of repairs to the red doors proved too low and it has proved difficult to find a contractor willing to take on the project. The masonry work and roofing on the tower was also delayed when we became aware that the intended work might not provide as comprehensive a solution as originally anticipated. In 2018 the Vestry decided
to retain the services of a consulting engineer with expertise in historic masonry structures to advise us on the sources of the problems. As a result,
a new work plan was established, and portions of the work put out for bid in
the fall of 2018.
Contractors had been tentatively selected, and work was being scheduled for late winter and spring when the January 24th storm hit. The water damage to the chapel, the upper sacristy, and the west end of the nave were significant. Repair of that damage coincided with the bell tower renovation to such an extent that the two projects have now been merged into one. Some of the work in the chapel and upper Sacristy will be covered by the Church Insurance group. The Finance Committee has been asked to develop recommendations on how to pay for the work not covered by insurance or the Champlin grant.
At the strong urging of the Church Insurance Group we have retained Pariseault Builders to coordinate all the work on the tower, the chapel, the upper sacristy, and the west end of the nave. Pariseault is currently working with Church Insurance to develop a work plan and cost estimates. We will keep you advised as the project moves forward. We hope to have all work completed by July 1st.
Maintaining this beautiful church for future generations to enjoy is challenging. We can experience the challenge as both responsibility as well as burden. It is true that unless the projected demographic of church attendance changes, the maintenance responsibilities will place an increasingly disproportionate burden on shrinking congregations. This is why our Planned Giving Strategy of encouraging both estate planning gifts and also regular steady contributions to the endowment is crucial for our ability to meet our generational responsibility to pass on in good condition that which has been bequeathed to us in trust.
Following last weeks’ service cancellation due to problems with the fire alarm system, I look forward to welcoming you back, this Sunday.