We are very very excited at the prospect of buying land and planning the future of our congregation.
Here’s the letter that went to the congregation in Feb 2017….
Dear Emmanuel and Grace Members
This is a long but very important read – please take some time to read this in preparation for our congregational meeting on 26 Feb 2017.
Shortly after we moved into Emmanuel’s building in 2002, we started talking about planting the next congregation. The intention was to multiply rather than grow big. There’s a saying in church growth circles: “An apple seed’s intention is not to be a big tree, but an orchard.”
And so, in 2007 we planted Grace congregation in NG Moreleta’s Hall in Rubenstein Street. Ultimately, the venue wasn’t optimal and we moved Grace to Emmanuel’s building – seeing the building and staff as the “incubator and nurses” for the infant congregation.
Grace’s growth has been slow and steady over the last ten years – and some may even feel that it has been too slow…. While it took Emmanuel five years before they purchased land, and another five to build, they did this with the undivided attention of their ministers (first Chris Moore and then Theo) and the banks provided loans to churches which they don’t do anymore. Grace has also had to settle for a later service starting time which has, in the Session’s opinion, slowed growth. In spite of these factors, Grace has built community and saved up diligently.
In 2015 a location committee was formed and, in September, a member brought to our attention a piece of property South East of Mooikloof which looked promising. (See the map below…) The owner spends winters overseas and the land still needs to be subdivided and so the location committee had ample time to take a slow and systematic look at the land. (You will remember that we had our Easter Sunrise Service on the Land last year – and all who attended were very positive about it.) This slow, prayerful and thorough examination has revealed that:
- The geology is favorable.
- The property is well situated for a large portion of our existing members.
- The property is more than adequate for the purposes of building a sanctuary for Grace. (It is bigger than Emmanuel’s property)
- A new Maragon School will be built across the road and a Crawford College campus will be built a bit further along the road.
- The spread of suburbia in this area has been confirmed and there are indications that the next Gautrain Station will be within 2-5 km from our site too.
- The financial implications (you can see the details below) are also very favourable.
And so the Location Committee, the Board and Session are recommending that Emmanuel and Grace purchase the land as the future home of Grace congregation. In order for this to happen, the following steps need to be taken:
The congregation (Emmanuel as parent and Grace as child) need to approve Session, Board and Location Committee’s proposal and formally agree to purchase the land.
The decision will have to be approved by Presbytery (our regional structure) and General Assembly (our national structure) as the property is registered under the name of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. (These approvals are usually a formality.)
We will have to raise funds for remaining costs.
Ideally Grace will find a temporary venue on or near the site so that services can start a little earlier and we can start attracting people in the area.
Once the attendance and finances are optimal and with assistance from Emmanuel, building can commence.
We are very excited by the prospect of strategically buying land before prices rocket and being well positioned before the next wave of suburban growth. Buying land was a growth-trigger for Emmanuel and we believe it will be the same for Grace.
THE FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS:
Craig has provided us with a useful analysis of the financial implications.
- The total land size is 1.144 Ha. The asking price was R1.5 million per Ha. The shape of The Land limits its usefulness for residential or office developments, however it is well suited for use as a church complex.The original asking price of the land amounted to R1.7 million excluding agent’s commission, transfer duties and attorney’s fees. But the committee discussed a tentative offer with the land-owner in which we will offer to manage the subdivision, bulk-services etc. The owner responded positively to this suggested way forward. The proposed deal will offer a purchase price and costs as follows:
R800 000 to Land Owner
R 40 000 purchase commission
R110 000 estimated costs for subdivision, bulk services and attorney’s fees etc
A payment of R500 000 will be made to the Land Owner to secure the purchase of the land. This is payable upon registration in the name of the church. The remaining R300 000 is payable over a period of three years to the Land Owner, interest free with no fixed terms of repayment.
The costs associated with the sub-division and bulk services, etc are payable as they fall due. This will be during the first 5 months of the year. Sufficient cash reserves are available to meet these payments whilst funds are raised during this year.
Grace has sufficient cash reserves to meet the initial payment of R500 000 to the land owner.
The remaining R300 000 will be settled during 2018 and 2019.
The purchase of the land will reduce our assessable income too.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Here are some FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) that people are already asking:
“Will current Grace members be forced to stay in Grace when it relocates? Alternatively, if the new Grace site is closer for an Emmanuel member, will they be able to switch to Grace?”
No-one will be forced into anything – we fully anticipate that the membership of the two congregations will change a lot when they meet in different locations. People will have absolute freedom to belong to either congregation.
“Who will the minister at Grace be?”
Theo and Jackie will continue to serve interchangeably at the two congregations. Craig as Pastoral Executive and Susan as Secretary will serve both congregations in their strategic, admin, financial and management functions. Eventually a long-term decision around the Shepherd of Grace will need to be made, but because of the dream that the two congregations will work closely together, the shared leadership model is very attractive to start with.
“Why isn’t Grace making this decision by itself – why must Emmanuel get involved?”
When Grace was conceptualised it was with the goal that the parent and child congregations would work closely together – Grace has the status of a nuclear congregation under the care of Emmanuel and so Emmanuel is part of this decision. In fact, Grace will not fully untie the apron strings even in the future, because it is our intention to then combine the strength of Emmanuel and Grace to plant the next and the next congregations.
“How long do you think it will take to have a building on the Grace land?”
This is not easy to answer – finances will play the most serious role and with Emmanuel’s buildings coming to about R1.2 million in 2002, we have a challenging target for Grace. I think we are looking at 5 years…
“So why should we buy now? Shouldn’t we save up more and wait?”
The price is right, the location is right, we’re in a position to do it and doing it will catalyse growth. We believe this is the next step, and that, if we don’t take it, this wonderful strategic opportunity may slip past.
Many of you have found a spiritual home in Emmanuel or Grace – we would want others to find the same blessing of fellowship, family and spiritual growth. We don’t want Emmanuel to be a single big apple tree by itself. Grace is our first step to being an orchard. As Christians we are a commissioned people – commissioned to be the church wherever people are, to reach them for Christ. We believe this land gets us a foothold into the next growth point.
We will have a combined service on Sunday 26th at 09h00. We will consider the budget and a proposal to request permission from Presbytery and General Assembly to make an offer to purchase the land. Please hold Sunday’s decision in your hearts, minds and prayers. Come along and be part of making history!
If you have any questions or comments send them our way beforehand so that we can resolve as much as possible before the meeting.
Thank you for reading this long letter.
With great excitement!
God bless and Love,
Theo and Jackie
(On behalf of Session, Board and Location Committee)