First Wausau United Methodist Church
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.


Overview of First UMC Building Issues and Proposed Donation

Reality of our Membership and Budget
  • 2002: 650 members, average worship attendance of 247, and operating budget of $524K. Members gave an average of $64/month to support ministries.
  • 2012: 473 members with an average worship attendance of 165 people. Members gave an average of $74/month to cover a budget of $420K.
  • 2022: 225 members, average worship attendance of 80 (including online), and operating budget of $347K.
  • To cover the budget, members would need to give an average of $129/month per person, rather than the $99/month per person that is the current average.
Reality of our Building and Needed Improvements
  • The Sanctuary wing is 55 years old, and the rest of the building is 63 years old.
  • Roof and gutters for Sanctuary, Wesley room, drive-thru, offices & conference room, and several entrances need to be replaced very soon. $220,000+
  • Twelve bathrooms are original and need to be completely gutted and remodeled with new fixtures to ensure accessibility, lower water waste and repair bills, and show hospitality, No estimate due to uncertain future usage/needs, but likely $200,000+
  • Internet wiring needed for upper and lower levels and the BK Smith room/nursery/front offices/bell room area. It would be significantly less expensive to also remove and replace all the current ceilings and light fixtures instead of the high labor costs of drilling, fishing cables, and making it aesthetically pleasing. No estimate, but likely $100,000+
  • Necessary organ repairs of $66,400 was recently approved by Trustees.
  • Sanctuary lighting needs to be replaced due to extensively damaged wiring and sockets. Cost will be $100,000-S150,000, but energy savings from LED bulbs offsets the cost.
  • 19.7 KW Solar installation on the roof estimated at $58,000. Energy savings would pay for itself within an estimated 7-10 years.
  • Exterior brick and concrete repairs estimated at $100,000+
This totals about $900,000 in needed improvements if we want to retain ownership and manage the space. This would cost $4,000 in average donations from every member, in addition to an average of $1,548 needed each year from each member toward the budget.

Proposal to Donate our Building to the Community Foundation*
*subject to dialogue between our congregation, the Community Foundation, and their key potential tenants such as YMCA Childcare

Proposed Financial Responsibilities:
  • If we donate our building to the Community Foundation (CF), they will offer us a free, renewable 100-year lease on the space we would exclusively use.
  • Of the building improvements listed above, the CF would pay for all exterior and most interior expenses. Exceptions would be for organ repairs and likely sanctuary lighting.
  • The CF would be responsible for all interior and exterior maintenance. First UMC would pay a percentage of the utility bills based on space and usage and for cleaning our exclusive space.
  • The CF would also pay to remodel the nursery into new office area for our staff, and the BK Smith room into a new nursery, elementary room, and multi-purpose meeting room.
Possible Floor Plan to Remodel BK Smith & Nursery Areas
Proposed First UMC-only Space Use:
  • In addition to the remodeled and repurposed BKS/Nursery area, the current PNC, CCC, area would be our space to continue those missions.
  • The "Worship Entrance" would be our primary door. The concrete closet in that entrance would be removed to open the space, and a door would be added to access the new office area. The "Main Entrance" would be used primarily for other non-profits to access the building from the parking lot.
  • The Bell room would continue in that function, with choir music file cabinets added.
  • The Choir room would be converted into a Youth/Scout/Game room.
Proposed Shared Spaces:
  • The Parlor, Kitchen, Fellowship Hall, Chapel, and halls/bathrooms near those areas would be spaces shared by non-profits and our congregation. They would be reserved equitably and rented economically through the CF. We would rent the Chapel, Parlor, and Kitchen on Sunday mornings, and the Kitchen and/or Fellowship Hall for special events.
  • Because the Chapel would have multiple uses, it is likely that the pews would be replaced with chairs, and the communion railing would possibly be removed. The 1917 mural of Jesus praying on the mountain would remain, with other non-profits that wish to use the room having the option of temporarily covering it if they desire.
Congregational feedback will help us work out optimal logistics with the Community Foundation and Wisconsin Annual Conference. We hope to vote on the final proposal early next year, open to all fully confirmed members of First UMC of Wausau.

Sasha's Generosity

Scott tells a story about when his church group visited Russia and he met a ten-year-old Russian orphan named Sasha who, for some reason, latched on to him. Sasha took Scott by the arm and led him through the orphanage, showing off his room and the place he ate meals. All the while Sasha's eyes were filled with joy and laughter. In spite of the fact that Scott spoke little Russian, and Sasha spoke no English, they connected. As the church group prepared to depart, Sasha sat beside Scott, pulled a silver ring from his finger, and held it out for Scott to take. His eyes filled with tears and Scott spoke the only Russian word I knew "Nyet, nyet." (No, no.) This child, who had nothing in the world to call his own except this ring, desperately wanted to give this ring to him. When asked why Sasha wanted to give his only possession away, Sasha responded through an interpreter, "Because I am so thankful Scott came." For Sasha, abundant joy, extreme poverty, and a heart filled with gratitude overflowed in a wealth of generosity. For many of us who have so much, we want more. We are not thankful for what we have and always look for the "something more." And truth be told, it's never enough. What would happen if, by God's grace, our desire to gain more and have more could be transformed by gratitude into a heartfelt desire to give more? What would happen if in a spirit of gratitude, we spent as much time figuring out ways to give as we spend figuring out how to earn, have, and keep? Can you recall a time when you were truly thankful despite negative circum- stances? Can you recall time when someone who could least afford it gave you a generous gift? What was it like? How did you respond?
Rev. Jason Mahnke, Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation 

Fearlessly...cuddled in the warmth of our Lord.