Capital Campaign Update

In this article, we would like to review the origin and evolution of St. John’s current Capital Campaign, what it has accomplished and what remains to be done. The Capital Campaign for St. John in the Wilderness: Sustaining People, Place, and Peace was formally launched in 2019, but the groundwork for it began to be laid two years earlier, when an ad hoc Capital Campaign Committee was formed in 2017 to chart an initial course of action, consisting of four steps:

On July 14, 2018, the Capital Campaign was announced publicly at a Sparkling Soiree event at St. John’s. Over the following 12 months, the Committee quietly solicited pledges and gifts from parishioners towards the anticipated financial goals of the Campaign. By the summer of 2019, approximately 50% of the Campaign goal of $332,000 had been reached during this quiet phase through donations from parishioners and a generous bequest. At the 10:00 a.m. Eucharist at St. John’s on Consecration Sunday, June 30, 2019, we announced that the Campaign had officially begun. On August 30, 2019, we sent the first wave of Campaign pledge forms to parishioners and we also began soliciting grants for capital projects from private foundations.

Expenses for early architectural and engineering assessments of capital project needs were generously assisted in May 2020 through a $3,500, 1:1 matching grant from the Sacred Sites program of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. St. John’s parishioners quickly made that match and more. In her letter to St. John’s, Peg Breen, President of The New York Landmarks Conservancy, wrote: “The Conservancy commends you and the congregation for recognizing the historic importance of this sacred site and maintaining it for future generations.”

By early autumn 2021, enough funds had been raised and COVID-19 pandemic-related shortages of materials and contractors had been eased sufficiently for projects to begin. The following projects have been completed to date, with private foundation support indicated:

  • Herrington Fuels replaced the old oil-fired furnaces with new propane-fired boilers (along with a new outdoor underground propane fuel tank) and hot water heaters in the church and rectory and the air conditioning units in Burke Hall and the church’s office;
  • Renovation of the sacristy, including the installation of new lighting, selective electrical upgrades, counter surfaces, millwork, plumbing and associated fixtures, heating, accessories and floor reinforcing with upgraded floor finishes, performed by Hillsdale-based contractor Sean Fagan, and with financial assistance from a $5,000 grant from the Rheinstrom Hill Community Foundation;
  • Old pavilion was removed, a gravel base footprint was laid where the new pavilion was installed late last summer and first used as a stage and backdrop for the musical talents of Jim Wann and Friends at the Community Harvest Festival on September 17, 2022;
  • New parking area was created between rectory and the slope up to where the new pavilion is located, and landscape regraded and planted with grass seed;
  • Accessible entrance to front of church, designed by architect Jack Alvarez, ramp built from granite stone by Robert Haldane and his team, and hand rail fabricated and installed by Jeff Budd, with financial assistance from a $5,000 grant from the Rheinstrom Hill Community Foundation.

By the spring of 2022, a total of $257,954, representing 78% of the Campaign’s goal, had been donated or pledged, and we decided to send out on April 28, 2022, a second wave of letters to parishioners to solicit pledges and donations for the Campaign. In these letters, we indicated that the Committee decided to extend the timeframe for the Campaign, which was originally planned to be completed in 2022, by one year, through 2023. The reasons for the extension are the ones we are all familiar with that were catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic. These new solicitations have resulted to date in an additional $26,532 of gifts and pledges towards the Campaign goal, including a generous bequest from a long-time parishioner at St. John’s, the late Dorothy Baker. All these new gifts bring us to $284,486, 86% of the Campaign’s $332,000 goal.

The following capital projects are underway or planned for 2023:

  • Electric upgrades and electric power and water connections to the new pavilion and lighting at the new parking area and the church’s accessible entrance ramp;
  • Black top removal around the church, new landscaping with native plant species around the church, and new blacktop lane around the church;
  • Pomeroy Graveyard repair of fence, straightening of grave markers, and stabilization of embankment, with financial assistance from a $15,000 grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation;
  • Prayer Circle – Lukas Schwartz, builder, has constructed 2 benches of locust wood which are now onsite at the circle; the locust planks were sourced from Konkaput Tree and Timber Company in Ashley Falls, MA, and are also onsite; Lukas plans to complete building the remaining 4 benches by early spring; Jamie Purinton has consulted with him about the design and placement of the benches.
Beginnings of Prayer Circle, looking west, on March 18, 2023, with St. John’s graveyard, church, rectory, and pavilion in the distance. Photo by B. Boom

The Committee very much appreciates all the people and organizations that have been inspired to support the capital projects that will help sustain St. John’s into the future. If you would like to make a first-time donation, or a second donation, to the Capital Campaign, you may do so online at and there designate your gift to the Capital Campaign, or you can contact one of us directly to obtain pledge forms for donating cash or publicly-traded securities. The goal is to complete the Capital Campaign in 2023. We can do it! Please help at whatever level is possible to secure the people, place, and peace at St. John’s into the future.

Brian Boom and Lucy Eldridge, Co-Chairs

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