First Presbyterian Church – Cedar Rapids

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning  $600,000

During the 1961 renovation of the sanctuary and new construction of the Christian Education Building a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system was installed, using heated and chilled water running through asbestos-insulated pipes to coil-fin units and blowers.  By 2004 these pipes were in poor condition, many blocked by corrosion and others leaking and damaging ceiling tiles, floors, and furnishings, and the coil fin units were failing with no replacement parts available.

Replacing the HVAC system throughout the church was part of the 2004 Magnet for Ministry campaign.  Unfortunately, work on the HVAC system in the Christian Education wing had to be deferred due to lack of funds, and only the Sanctuary side of the church was done.  By the autumn of 2015 the system in the CE wing was showing signs of imminent failure.  Eric Stark, the Facilities Supervisor, and the Property Committee of the Session spent several months investigating options to repair or replace the now-failing system.  The Property Committee determined that the most cost-effective solution was an energy-efficient air-source heat pump system.  Research indicated that such a system would save the church 18-30% in heating and air conditioning costs over the course of a year. 

In October, 2016, the congregation approved a $600,000 loan to replace the old hot/cold water system with a heat pump.  Work commenced on that project in November, 2016, followed almost immediately by a series of failures of the old system necessitating some emergency repairs to get us through installation of the heat pump.  By mid-May, 2017, the heat pump system in the CE wing was virtually complete, with only inspection by the manufacturer left to validate the 10-year warranty. 

Raising the money to repay the HVAC loan is the first priority of the capital campaign.

East Entrance $954,470

When the Christian Education wing was built in 1961 there was a small back door leading to the back hall, kitchen, and Fellowship Hall.  The church later purchased several rental properties on 3rd Ave. and the small parking lot behind them, with a view to eventually tearing those buildings down to create a larger church parking lot.  This was done in the late 1980s.  Almost immediately that back door became the de facto main entrance during the week, because of the parking lot.

In the 1990s Elizabeth South gave a substantial gift as a memorial to her husband, Robert South.  This money was used to build a new entrance on the eastern or parking lot side of the church.  At the same time an elevator was installed using memorials and additional donations to provide handicapped access to all levels of the CE wing.  Unfortunately the design and construction of the new entrance were inadequate for the task and less than 10 years after it opened the new entrance began to sag away from the original east wall.  Although this movement has stopped it has created gaps all along the joint between the 1961 wall and the 1995 lobby roof, and these leaks allow water to track along the ceiling beams, damaging the drywall and interior finishes.

Throughout the week, except for special events, this is the only church entrance in use.  On Sunday mornings half or more of the congregation and Sunday school children use this entrance.  For most Sunday worship visitors it is the face of the church.  And yet it still feels very much like the back of the church, the mudroom.  Part of this feeling is because of deterioration due to water damage, but much is due to the design, with a low ceiling and steps almost immediately inside the door.

The Building Task Force proposes to remove the existing lobby, leaving the elevator and building a new lobby better suited to the space’s role as a main entrance equal in importance to the 5th St. entrance.  This entrance, taller than the current one, will have a sweeping view through the Gathering Space and the 5th St. doors to Greene Square.  The church office will be relocated to the south side of this new entrance, where the closet housing the now-redundant HVAC blowers is located.  The office will have glass walls, allowing monitoring of visitors during the week.  The new office area will include a workroom and space for the sound equipment currently in the closet.  The lobby will open into the current boardroom, and that in turn will open into the Gathering Space  There will be a canopied entrance from the parking lot, supported by two columns rather than cantilevered as the current canopy is.  There will also be a storage area and possibly a coat closet on the parking lot level.

The Building Task Force believes that this entrance will be inviting and will reflect our commitment to the future of the downtown area.

Fellowship Hall, kitchen, pantry, and refrigerated space $741,697

Fellowship Hall and the kitchen date to the construction of the CE Wing in 1961.  Although Fellowship Hall has been repainted several times the lighting and floor covering are original and the space is dark by modern lighting standards.  The lack of a serving counter means that every Sunday the staff must set up tables for the Sunday Evening Meals Program (SEMP), one of our principal mission programs since 1987.  Food must be carried out of and back to the kitchen and dirty dishes carried through the kitchen to the dishwasher.

The Building Task Force proposes to renovate and remodel Fellowship Hall to construct a closet in the space at the west end, opposite the doors from the coat rack.  This will eliminate the el along the parlor wall and allow storage of tables and chairs.  Improved lighting and a reworked ceiling will make the room more inviting.  On the east end of the room a serving counter with a roller door will be installed between the kitchen doors, eliminating the need to move tables for serving every Sunday.  This counter will also create more space in Fellowship Hall during potluck meals by eliminating the need for tables along the south wall.

Behind the kitchen, the Building Task Force recommends constructing a pantry and walk-in refrigerator and freezer on the footprint outside the CE wing, in the space between the dumpsters and the exterior of the elevator shaft structure.  This will increase the food storage area for SEMP and free space in the kitchen itself currently occupied by the refrigerator and freezer.  It will also increase storage space on the 2nd floor.

In the kitchen the stainless steel counter leading to the dishwasher will be extended to the door so that dirty dishes will not travel through the food preparation area.  The floor-to-ceiling cabinets on the Fellowship Hall wall of the kitchen will be relocated to the east wall, in the space currently occupied by the SEMP refrigeration equipment, and more cabinets will be located under the serving counter.  The stove will be turned 90o and located along the north wall of the kitchen.  One of the islands will be removed and the other island replaced with two large, movable stainless steel islands with waterproof electrical boxes for countertop appliances.

The Building Task Force assumes that we will reuse as much of the kitchen equipment as we can.

All these changes will increase storage space for food, dry goods, cookery and utensils, and equipment in the kitchen and pantry, increase food serving efficiency, improve food safety by isolating the clean and dirty areas, and improve traffic flow within and through the kitchen.

Sanctuary organ $675,000

One of the oldest and proudest traditions at First Presbyterian Church is our rich musical heritage.  The sanctuary pipe organ is a vital part of that heritage.  The oldest parts of the organ date to 1924; other parts were installed in 1961 and 1971.  As the organ ages it has begun to develop significant problems.  Our organist, Neal Marple, does a marvelous job of covering up the problems but just as people age and begin to falter, so do church organs.  Our organ is now limping along and Neal tells us that each Sunday is an adventure, since he never knows which parts will work properly for the service until he sits down to play.  Neal and Eric have spent many hours and many rolls of duct tape patching broken pieces, and some parts of the organ have stopped working all together.

At the request of the Worship and Music Committee of the Session an Organ Steering Committee was formed in 2015 to investigate the condition of the sanctuary organ and make a recommendation concerning its future.  According to Neal our organ’s inflation-adjusted cost is $464,000, and the Reuter Organ Co. estimates its replacement cost to be in excess of $1 million.  The Organ Steering Committee, in conjunction with Reuter, investigated new and reconditioned/repaired organs both locally and in the Twin Cities.  They then formulated three possible courses of action: simply repairing the actual broken parts of our organ; repairing the organ, adding a few improvements, and installing the equipment necessary to make further improvements in the future; and doing both the repairs and all the recommended improvements now.  The Organ Steering Committee recommends the second option, doing all the repairs and allowing for future improvements, as the most cost-effective approach.  Reuter believes that the value added by these repairs would bring the post-repair replacement cost to $1.3 million.

The sanctuary organ is more than just a box of whistles.  For almost 100 years it has announced Christ’s birth each Christmas morning and proclaimed His resurrection every Easter Sunday.  With regular maintenance and repairs a pipe organ’s life is measured in centuries: the oldest parts of the organ in St. Paul’s Cathedral date to 1694.  For our organ, these repairs will extend the life of the organ by another 40 years, taking it well into the organ’s second century.

To view more detail and the complete recommendations of the Organ Steering Committee Click Here. (Document will open in a new tab)

Christian Education Wing windows $261,000

 Like the kitchen, Fellowship Hall, and the parlor, the windows in the CE Wing are original to the 1961 construction.  They are single-pane glass and as well as transmitting cold through the glass, over almost 60 years they have developed gaps and leaks around the frames, reducing the efficiency of the new HVAC system.  In addition to adding to our annual heating and cooling costs, the old windows are uncomfortable to stand beside because of cold and drafts, reducing the functional space in Fellowship Hall during winter months

The Building Task Force proposes to replace all the windows on the south (alley) and west (5th St.) sides of the CE Wing on all levels with thermal pane, low-E coated windows.  These windows will have an appearance similar to the existing windows but will be much more efficient, reducing our heating and cooling costs.  The exterior colors will match the windows in the Sanctuary wing, presenting a more unified appearance.

The doors and windows of the 5th St. entrance to the CE wing were replaced as part of the sanctuary renovation in the Magnet for Ministry project, and will not be replaced in this project.  The windows on the east side of the 2nd floor of the CE Wing are included in the East Entrance project, and will match the new windows on the south and west faces of the building.

Parlor and pastor’s study $81,400

The Building Task Force looked at how the parlor is currently used. It functions as a meeting place for families for weddings and memorial services. It is used for small social functions like bridge groups. It is used irregularly for adult education groups. And it is often used by the pastor for meetings which are too large for the pastor’s study but not large enough for Fellowship Hall.

The 1961 design of the parlor includes a small kitchenette. Connected to the pastor’s study there is a small bathroom that backs onto half of the parlor kitchenette. The Building Task Force, in consultation with the pastor, suggests removing the fixtures in the pastor’s bathroom and the parlor kitchenette, and the wall between these two. In their place a small coffee bar would be constructed with a bar sink and storage for coffee making supplies in half of the kitchenette space, connecting to the parlor. A new wall would be constructed, and the remaining half of the current kitchenette would be connected to the space occupied by the pastor’s bathroom. This would then provide storage for the pastor’s supplies.

The parlor itself would be modernized, with lighter paint and wainscoting and more efficient lighting. This will make the room more usable for meetings and remove what some members feel is a gloomy atmosphere. Since the proposal for the new east entrance eliminates the boardroom, the renovated parlor will also serve as the boardroom but will not be cluttered with staff project preparations, since the new office space includes a workroom for those projects.