Building Project: A Retrospective from Ken O'Shaughnessy

Eight years ago around this time, the parish selected a Committee for Parish Development, not initially a building committee per se; and as the project developed it became that, and is now ready to become something else. During these past eight years, the committee has discussed every possible option for the growth of the parish, and finally, here we are today, with a specific and imminent plan.

During the first year, the committee explored possible building options, from remodeling our present building, to rebuilding at our present location, to transitional space, to everything made new. The recommendation from this exhaustive research was that the plan that would sustain the growth of the parish best was a completely new worship location and space.

Over the next three years (2009 - 2011), the committee, now officially considered a building committee, vetted at least a hundred properties all over Greenville County. During this time (a time of considerable economic downturn and uncertainty), St John of the Ladder also conducted a successful capital campaign to pay off the property on Augusta Arbor Way and began saving for new land. Ultimately, the property at Roper Mountain Extension was selected and purchased in February 2011 (and paid off in June of 2012).

This began another phase of the committee. Months were spent interviewing architects and designers, and looking at their concepts for our new worship space. Andrew Gould, arguably one of the most talented designers of Orthodox churches in the US, and an accomplished artisan in his own right, was selected (teamed with Morris Architecture). From 2012 to 2014 the building design was made, adjusted many times, and then shifted completely on the site due to unforeseen site difficulties. The site plan itself had changed designers, definitely for the better, as the water remediation issues forced us to move away from traditional site work to a more eco-friendly and beautiful water reclamation method (which, by the way, was stated in the proposal made by the Committee for Parish Development at the end of year one, but back then we didn't know how to get there). We have also explored close to a dozen builders, examined their work and proposals, and selected one that has had tremendous input on how we can get our expenses in line with our budget.

As a result of the delays due to the site issues, there hasn't been much for us to tell you over the past year. The problems required rework by our designer and the site designer, and there has been a long and unfortunately protracted discussion with Greenville County to get our site proposal approved for permitting. We've spent the year mostly in wait-and-pray mode. The only thing, it seems that moves slower than the Orthodox Church is county government.

Now, at long last, the discussion is essentially over with the county, and we are within weeks of obtaining our site permits. We have, due to the "long" delay, grown into a stronger parish. We have gathered into the storehouse a sizable chunk of money that will enable us to actually begin the work. We have a hugely improved site and building plan. We have close to $700,00.00 in completely paid-for real estate assets, and over $500,000 cash in reserve...and we have an increasingly impatient congregation.

I have included the above history to show you that we have gained much by our process, and lost nothing but our patience.Of course, I need to be reminded that impatience isn't a virtue. It rarely accomplishes anything of value, and rarely ends without significant regret. To enter on this new phase of the building process with a "git 'er done" attitude, rather than a "God's will be done" attitude, will not do the process, the parish, or the plan of God any justice. Although the building committee has often lost patience itself over the course of this project, we have been reminded often that this is the plan of God we are trying to work out, and he works in all things for our good. We can trust him to lead us through this process, and just like he provided us with the payoffs and the property, he can provide us with patience also, and the parish he has planned for us.

That being said, I believe that as a parish we are seeking to love God, to follow him, and to trust him to work out his plans for us. Therefore I have full confidence that as we go forward, the decisions we make as a parish regarding this project, while not always right, will ultimately be made by him into good, to conform us to the image of Christ, and to be the glory of God in the world.