By JEAN DRISKELL, Special to the Bulletin | Published April 30, 2015
DECATUR—Needing more space and upgrades to its electrical, heating and air systems, Sts. Peter and Paul Church underwent a renovation that started in 2009 and ended in 2015.
The mortgage burning ceremony was on Saturday, March 7, after the 5 p.m. Mass.
The building/renovation completion ceremony had been held on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The accomplishment overcame the recession.
“Initially, we thought we would build a new church,” said Gregory T. Baranco, chairman of the parish capital campaign committee. The campaign kicked off in March 2009, a time now identified as part of a severe financial recession.
“There were pledges scheduled to begin in June 2009,” said Dorothy Rutledge, who was co-chair, along with Dr. Christopher Griffith, of the follow-up committee.
“By July 2009 we had collected over $124,000, but by the end of 2009 that was where we were. The pledges were not coming in,” Rutledge said.
Due to the recession, the committees, along with Father Eric Hill, who was then the pastor, had a town hall meeting with parishioners in 2010.
“We decided together that what we wanted to do was renovate the narthex by expanding it and upgrade the electrical, heating and air, and address other structural issues that needed to be done to the church facility,” Baranco said.
This would be a five-year campaign to raise an estimated $1.6 million.
Baranco said that the archdiocese was very supportive all the way through, but that they did not provide monies for this project. All funds came from the parishioners.
Prayer, updates keep parishioners aware
The builders were selected under Father Hill, said Franklin Beauford, chairman of the building committee. The process used was a “design build,” where one entity works under a single contract to provide design and construction services.
“We had the architects and the builders come together, which made a big difference in the way this project went,” Beauford said.
“Tony Pope was the architect, and Rogers was the construction company,” he said. “Overall it was a good project, good relationship.”
In September 2011 Father Bryan Small became pastor. Beauford said that with Father Small’s help and because of the cooperation in communication with him, the building project got where it needed to be and kept on track.
The building committee made sure the contractors stayed on schedule and kept the scope of the project on target, Beauford said.
The follow-up committee made sure the parishioners kept on track with their pledges. They did this through a Building Prayer said after each Sunday Mass, inserts in parish bulletins detailing parishioners’ progress fulfilling their pledges and updates on the progress of the building project. At the end of each month, after the announcements at each Sunday Mass, a financial update was given on the progress of paying off the building debt.
“Everybody started to chip in and did what they could, according to what they had,” Baranco said. “The good news is that we had a significant amount of parishioners that not only made pledges but kept their pledges.”
“In the middle of this great recession,” he said, “we soldiered right on through. You’ve got to be proud of that.”
The debt was paid off in December 2014.
‘The Spirit of the Lord at work here’
Both Baranco and Rutledge said that there were parishioners who did not pledge but still gave something each month.
“Gregory Baranco really kept the spirit going. We kept believing in our theme: ‘United in Prayer, Building on Faith,’” Rutledge said. “It was what kept us going throughout the five-year campaign.”
“This is probably one of the best experiences I’ve had here at Sts. Peter and Paul, being involved with something so big and that meant so much for the whole community,” she said.
Rutledge continued, “It was a spiritual journey, an opportunity to get to know more parishioners in the parish and an opportunity to be part of something much bigger than me.”
When the narthex was built and the upgrades were completed, she said, “the people could really see the Spirit of the Lord at work here.”
“Father Small is a blessing. It was a journey, a positive journey,” Baranco said.
All three committee chairs praised their committee members for their participation in the capital campaign.
The narthex went from holding about 50 people to 300 to 400 people. There is an area for prayer to St. Peter and St. Paul and an extended stained glass work based on the vision in Ezekiel 47 that circles the sacred space just outside the church.
There is also a bell tower, which was partially funded by the Women’s Council of Sts. Peter and Paul Church and is dedicated to the women of the parish past, present and future.
There is a vestment changing room for priests and deacons, a religious education room for the teachers to store their supplies, a new gift shop run by the Men’s Club, and new bathrooms.