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St. John's Episcopal
Tuesday, April 27 2021

Junior Warden Report April Chronicle

If you haven’t heard yet, the Vestry elected me as your Junior Warden last week, so I’ve renamed my report. While my “portfolio” will expand beyond the
Sanctuary renovation to include our two other buildings in the future, this report focuses squarely on the renovation. It’s quite long, so please bear with me.


With less than a month left in the capital campaign, we are moving full speed ahead on preparations to vacate the Sanctuary after the last Sunday worship service on May 29th. Father R.C. and I are meeting weekly to coordinate all aspects of the renovation, including plans for temporary worship. Several moving parts are in play simultaneously, and the decisions we make on some issues bear directly on the options open to us on others. It’s a bit like playing whack-a-mole, but we are making progress. We’re working as thoroughly, thoughtfully, and quickly as possible to identify the pros and cons of all workable options, including costs, to better inform ours and the Vestry’s decision-making. To give you a sense of the range of issues, here are four of the bigger ones:

I. The Fate of Pews
After moving our pews twice in the last couple months, we found they’re not in good shape – some are damaged, a few badly warped. If we reuse them, they’ll all need repairs and/or refurbishment before being returned to the Sanctuary. The extent and cost of those repairs are unknown.

We’ve heard that some parishioners may prefer a new seating configuration, perhaps slightly angled, but it’s not clear that geometry can work with our straight, 15-foot long pews. Re-bolting them to the floor at an angle (rather than parallel) to the radiant heat system’s hydronic piping that’s embedded in the concrete may risk damaging the pipes. We don’t yet have a reliable enough map of the system to be sure it would (or wouldn’t) work.

One alternative is to purchase new pews, perhaps in a style that gently curves, to provide a traditional look with a more intimate configuration. Still, without more design work on the interior remodel and some cost estimates, we aren’t ready to make that call just yet. Research is ongoing.

Buying new pews would present us other options too. One is donating our oldpews to another church in the diocese, or possibly selling them to an architectural salvage or recycling company. Another idea is to raise funds for new pews by creating collectible items from the old ones, like benches or cutting boards branded with the “Sing to the Lord” capital campaign logo.

Suffice to say we don’t have enough information yet, but believe the best option will be to store the pews, at least for now, in the Parish Hall, the only room large enough to accommodate them. We did investigate storing them in rented shipping containers placed outside so we could keep the Parish Hall open for worship, but the number of containers we would need, the cost, the logistics of siting them, and the space they’d take up were simply too great.

II. Temporary Worship Space
Obviously, a pew-filled Parish Hall is not an option for worship space, so we plan to hold worship outdoors for the summer, under one large tent or multiple smaller ones. When we learned how much space FORMA will require in our parking lot for their “lay down area,” it left us with little room to accommodate both a large tent and still have any space for parking.

Instead, we’re leaning toward the purchase of two or more 10-foot x 20-foot pop up tents that we could erect and place ourselves for worship services somewhere on the 20th Avenue side of the building. These smaller tents are relatively inexpensive and could be used at other times as well. A “bares bones” audio/video cart must be wheeled out to live stream each tent service. The logistics will be challenging too, because we’ll need volunteers to erect and take down the tents every Wednesday and Sunday.

Where will we end up on pews and tents? We’re not completely certain, but exercising all due diligence to close in on economical and practical decisions.

III. Disposal of the Moeller Organ
The Moeller organ must come out of its east chancel location to replace the roof above it. We’re planning to have FORMA remove the architectural wooden screens, which will likely go to architectural salvage. We may have two parties interested in taking the Moeller’s console, blowers, wind chests and pipes, though we may keep some of its pipes with the intention of someday building a small portative organ for the chapel.

IV. Chancel & Bell Tower
As with the pews, we will need to remove and store (if not dispose of), or protect-in-place, everything in the chancel space, from the altar, chairs, and music stands to the suspended altar cross and Schlicker organ towers. Likewise, everything now in the nave or stored in the bell tower must be moved out and stored on the first or second floor of the Parish Building during construction. We’re identifying every room, nook and cranny that can be used for storage space.

FORMA will take down and crate for safe storage both the altar cross and the aumbry lamp. They plan to build additional protection for the organ towers. While its down, we’d like a structural engineer to inspect the condition of the altar cross suspension cable – and replace it, if necessary – before FORMA re- hangs it at the end of the project. We will ask them to also protect-in-place both the Schlicker organ console and the grand piano, as they are risky to move, provided this approach works with their scaffolding plan.


We don’t yet have a firm bid price or signed contract with FORMA due to multiple factors:

  • They’re still updating cost estimates due to price increases for steel and other building materials caused by COVID-related supply chain disruptions.
  • We’ve asked them for more demolition work and removal/protectionmeasures, which must be priced.
  • We’re clarifying some of the design details to better meet program needs, such as appropriate access to the Sacristy for the Altar Guild. These changes require engineering recalculations and design modifications, which take time.

As these issues are resolved, we expect to see a draft of the construction contract with FORMA soon, though possibly not before the capital campaign concludes. In the meantime, they and we are working out the important details for contractor mobilization, which brings us to two of those:

Parking Impacts

FORMA needs a large “lay down” area for a job shack, storage containers, building materials, lifts, and other items. They’ll need the entire north end of the parking lot, from Capitol Way to the second lot entrance on 19th Avenue. A second lay down area will be in the NE corner of the lot, near 19th and Washington. (Hey, that’s where I park!) Both areas will be fenced, gated, and locked, with a driveway between the two fenced areas to allow cars access from 19th to the Parish Hall entry doors.

This means the loss of 60% (23 out of 38 total) surfacing parking stalls. The recycle bins and dumpsters must be moved to a new location, and the building entrance on the north side of the building (“the Choir door”) will not be accessible.

We’ll likely keep only 15 parking stalls, those facing Washington Street and those closest to the building entrance, including the three ADA stalls. Staff will need to park in that area once FORMA begins to mobilize. We’ll let you know when these parking changes will go into effect.

Grounds Impacts
The seismic upgrades at the north wall of the Sanctuary spell doom for the two tall yellow cedar trees, azalea bushes, ground cover, and lamp post at that end of the building. All those must be removed or demolished to allow for excavation of the foundation during construction.


FORMA cannot possibly mobilize and start construction by June 6th, when our building permit will expire. We will apply for a one-time, six-month permit extension very soon to avoid any possibility of the permit lapsing, which would compel us to not just re-apply, but also redesign all the seismic upgrades to the more stringent and costly 2018 International Building Code, which the City of Olympia adopted in February 2021. A permit lapse would cause a major delay to, if not derail, the entire project – it’s a top priority to extend it soon.


The Solar Power Work Group held its first Zoom meeting on March 31st. Attendees were Tom Loranger (facilitator), George and Karen Bray, Dennis Cooper, Anne Hall, Bill Van Hook and myself. The solar project is on a separate track from the renovation, and it is not competing with the renovation project for funding from the capital campaign. It is a related, but stand-alone, project and financial decision.

The work group has collected and reviewed building electrical energy usage history and conferred with two solar vendors, South Sound Solar of Olympia and Capstone Solutions of Redmond. They are considering the pros and cons of different funding methods, including formation of an LLC or something called “CrowdLending” offered by Collective Sun, a nationwide nonprofit that helps nonprofits convert to solar. The topic is technical, the analysis and financing options complex, but this group is learning fast and clarifying the opportunities and choices.

The work group meets again on April 28th to review all the energy data, vendor input, and financial information, then determine next steps.


A “Meet the Architects” Zoom session will be held tonight from 7:00-8:00PM on Zoom. Meeting links can be found in the latest Messenger, in this Chronicle, and on Realm. (Click here and register for it just as you would for a church service). KMB Architects Mark Beardemphl, Bill Mathews, and Ruben Nunez will be on hand to talk about the project and field your questions about the roof, seismic upgrades, and interior remodel. Please join us, bring family members, tell your friends! This should be an enlightening evening. We will record the session to make it available for later viewing by those who cannot attend tomorrow.


Please visit the campaign website to find more information on the project, FAQ document, testimonials from fellow parishioners (you can add your own), video from Bishop Rickel (more videos coming), and an I’m Ready to Pledge button to pledge online.

Or complete a paper pledge card. Volunteer gift workers are reaching out now to send you a pledge packet – please respond to their email to get yours. The church needs either an electronic pledge or campaign pledge card for its recordkeeping.

We have 38 pledges totaling over $825,000 so far, but we need everyone to participate! Please add your name and financial commitment to this growing list by the campaign close on the Day of Pentecost, May 23rd.

And, if you have already made your pledge – THANK YOU! We are deeply grateful for your generous support to the future of St. John’s | San Juan.


Respectfully submitted,
Lou MacMillan, Junior Warden

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