The Building as Part of Our Mission
The small congregation was at a crossroad; to stay in the historic building which, was in dire need of major restoration work, or sell the building and move out of the city. This situation was chronicled in the newspaper article at the time.
The church members voted to create the Committee to Renew the Covenant (CRC) to investigate the options for the congregation to stay in the building and to continue the needed mission work in Boston.
Several options were considered, some of which would have permanently altered the Tiffany interior space. Fortunately, assessing those options helped us agree that the space must be preserved intact. In 1988, the congregation voted for a unique plan to re-develop the Parish House (the space behind the sanctuary) and the Lower Level into rental space for non-profit organizations. Given the high costs of space in the Back Bay, the church saw it as part of their mission in the city of Boston to offer the space to non-profits at below-market rates.
Simultaneously, the church voted to separate the building rental income and expenses, and the church’s operating expenses and income into two separate budgets. The building income would cover the costs of the day-today building operation and maintenance; the operating budget would cover church personnel costs and other church-related expenses. Currently, our largest tenant is Women’s Lunch Place, serving 250 women experiencing poverty &/or homelessness each day. This philosophy of separating the operating and building budgets continues to be a major driver in maintaining the building to address the human needs of Boston.
In 1990, the Church launched a capital campaign which raised $1.5 million – an extraordinary achievement for the small congregation. One hundred percent of the membership pledged financial support. This led the way for outside organizations to contribute to the building to support the mission for non-profit rental space.
Key Elements of the Capital Campaign
- Restoration of the sanctuary walls, including plaster repairs and a restored Tiffany paint scheme, basic electrical and lighting upgrades plus some roof repairs.
- Reconfigure the Parish House (space behind the sanctuary) was the major focus and the greatest expense of the construction. The interior was completely demolished and a new building built within the exterior walls. All the systems were upgraded and an elevator was installed to service all floors. Many architectural elements from the original space were repurposed including doors, moldings and windows.
- Stabilization of the facility
An at-grade ramp to the 67 Newbury Street entrance was installed. Roof repairs made, some re-pointing.