As explained in previous issues of A Voice in the Wilderness, earlier this year the Capital Campaign Committee, in consultation with the Buildings & Grounds Committee and the Finance Committee, prioritized projects for completion in the Campaign. On April 28, 2022, we sent out pledge request letters, covering calendar years 2022 and 2023, to 91 members and friends of St. John’s. The letters stated that we needed to raise $42,500 to complete ongoing capital projects (mechanical and electrical upgrades and Sacristy renovation) and new capital projects, specifically the restoration of Pomeroy Graveyard, a new accessible entrance to the church, a new shed/pavilion, a new parking area and pavement, and a new woodland gathering/prayer circle.
Since those letters went out about a month ago, $5,750 has been pledged as a generous response towards this request! We will of course be thanking these pledgers individually, but we thank them here collectively for their support in sustaining St. John in the Wilderness into the future. We would like to thank Father John and other members of the Capital Campaign Committee for their valued advice on this process and to acknowledge Louise and Dale Peterson for graciously volunteering to print and mail the pledge letters. If you have not yet responded to this recent pledge request, we urge you to consider doing so, and please remember that your participation in any amount will be much appreciated.
Meanwhile, there has been a flurry of activities on the church grounds to prepare for several new capital projects. We would like to thank the folks who volunteered on Saturday, May 7 to move tables, chairs, and other items out of the current, old shed into temporary storage in the church undercroft and Burke Hall until the newly purchased shed can be installed in a slightly new location on the church grounds. These volunteers were Louise and Dale Peterson, Jim and Patricia Wann, Karen and Bob Flynn, Lucy Eldridge, Arthur Eppler, Jay Corcoran, Elen Freeston, Judy Whitbeck, Harry Garrett, and Brian Boom. A couple of days later, Louise and Dale cleaned the old, but fully functional refrigerator in the old shed, and Brian joined them in relocating it temporarily to Burke Hall until the new shed is installed late this summer, and then the refrigerator can be relocated there. For more information on the new shed, see the “Word from the Senior Warden” report in this newsletter issue.
Accessibility is a major theme of the Capital Campaign, and no project will do more to advance that goal than the new entrance to the church that is being planned. The renowned firm of Robert Haldane Inc. has been contracted to implement the inspired design of architect Jack Alvarez for a new granite stair, landing, and walkway at the front entrance of the church. The stone comes from a quarry near Otis, Massachusetts and will be cut and finished to the dimensions required. The stone should be ready for installation this summer, probably in July. Robert Haldane expects to be on site for up to two weeks, first to regrade the area to receive the stone and then to put the stone panels in place. Marjorie Hoog, Dale Peterson, and Lucy Eldridge met with Jack Alvarez and Robert Haldane in front of the church entrance this past April 8 to finalize the plan. The new entrance will make the church accessible for people using wheelchairs and walkers.
Just as we were completing this Capital Campaign Update, we received the wonderful news that the Rheinstrom Hill Foundation has awarded a $5,000 grant to the Church of St. John in the Wilderness in support of the accessible entrance project! This is perfect timing, because as mentioned above, the work on the project will begin this summer. We will, of course, thank the Rheinstrom Hill Foundation directly for this important grant, but here we wanted to not only publicly acknowledge this new support, but to remind readers of the generosity that the Foundation has shown to our church in recent years. Namely, in 2018 the Foundation provided $5,000 for our project to repair the Rectory porch, and in 2019 the Foundation granted us $5,000 to support the Sacristy renovation. It is indeed gratifying to have such a steadfast philanthropic partner in securing St. John’s infrastructure for future generations of the Copake Falls community.
We will report on additional upcoming Capital projects and their funding in future issues of A Voice, but we would like to conclude this update with the moving words of The Rev. John Thompson in the closing of the Capital Campaign pledge letters we sent out recently: “As has been said, the SJITW Capital Campaign is about sustaining people, place and peace. As we work on maintaining and improving the beautiful, historic church building, rectory and grounds, we are aware that the peace for which St. John in the Wilderness is known will continue to spread. It’s all about love – between and among people rooted on a hill in Copake Falls.”
-Brian Boom and Lucy Eldridge, co-chairs