St. Paul's Building Renovation Project

Church Conference on the Building Renovation Project

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, St. Paul's UMC held a Special Church Conference to address the building renovation project. The Rev. Gerry Green, District Superintendent, presided with members and friends in attendance live over the computer and telephone conference call. As with all Church Conferences, only present, full members were able to exercise voting privileges. Non-members and constituents were welcome to attend but do not have voting privileges.

With Pastor Kate facilitating the meeting and guiding users through the technology, committee chairs Mike Barnes and Tim Simpson offered a presentation on the state of the renovation plans, followed by a Q&A session and the vote. Erin Steele, Membership Secretary & Church Administrator, tabulated votes, verified voters' membership status, and shared the outcome with those in attendance. Rev. Green accepted the results and Pastor Pat Allen will submit the necessary notice to the Baltimore-Washington Conference office.

The question: Are you in favor of proceeding with the Building Renovation Plan in its current and updated form as it is presented this evening?


Yes: 96

No: 1

Total Voting Members: 97


CLICK HERE to view the SLIDESHOW presented at the Special Church Conference, or scroll down for the video recording of the conference.


How we got here:

  • In 2015, the church voted by special Church Conference to move forward with planning building renovations. 
  • Initial goals were: improve access into our church building; open up the Narthex to free up usable space; build larger bathrooms in the vicinity of the Sanctuary; expand the kitchen in the Octagon area; convert two existing courtyards into usable indoor spaces with natural light; open up Fellowship Hall with new ceilings, lighting, flooring and windows; connect the two heartbeats of our church (the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall) with a simpler flow through the building. 
  • Our architect at the time gave an estimated cost of $3 million for the project
  • The Capital Campaign Committee was formed to raise the funds
  • However, due to the unanticipated requirement for code-mandated fire protection for the entire church property, new electrical service and transformer, and a new plumbing service, the total cost estimated by our contractor in 2019 rose to over $5 million - far beyond our initial estimate and campaign scope.
  • We obtained a permit for project as originally drafted in August 2019, which has since been under a stop-work order pending revisions.

Where we are now:

  • The scope of work has been revised to provide the most value at this time. 
  • A contractor has been identified and is under contractual agreement for the work.
  • The Montgomery County Office of Planning and Permits released the stop work order and issued a current building permit
  • An audit of the Capital Campaign Funds determined that as of August 31, 2020, the amount on hand purposed for the building project was $1,253,116.71
  • There remain $287,001.57 outstanding in unmet pledges. 
  • The Capital Campaign Committee established a plan to reach out to those who have either not fulfilled their pledge or who joined the church after the initiation of the campaign. All are encouraged to fulfill pledges by December 31, 2020.

Revised Project Includes:

  • Improved access into our church building and use of existing space
  • ADA ramps that allow all people to enter our church through the front door from our parking lot or from Armory Ave.
  • Re-grading our parking lot for new ADA accessible parking spaces and improved water run-off management
  • ADA ramps from our parking lot that allow people to enter the building by the music office
  • Additional outside lighting along entry paths
  • Build larger, ADA compliant accessible bathrooms near the Library. 
  • Expand the Octagon kitchenette; remove the small bathrooms by the Octagon
  • Open up the Narthex by removing a portion of the coat area (while keeping a smaller coat closet)
  • Does not extend into or enclose the courtyards
  • Asbestos abatement in the areas of work
  • The total cost of this revised project scope to include allowances for unforeseen complications is $1.2 million dollars -- which we already have on hand.
  • This revised project would allow for a phase-in of the remainder of the original project in the future, while not doing any work that would need to be “undone” later.

If you have questions, please use the form below to contact the committee leaders or email

WEbinar Recording

See the video below for the recording of our practice webinar for the upcoming church votes!


Building Project Vote

Update: September 10, 2020

St. Paul’s UMC is entering a season of decisions. Several years ago, you embarked on a journey of redesigning and renovating the Sanctuary, Narthex, and Fellowship Hall. 

Much has happened within these past few months and we are the place of as a congregation, making decisions. The following date designates the end of our time of discerning and the moment of decision:

Tuesday September 29, 2020

7:00 pm

Special Church Conference to vote on the finalized scope of the building project.

Given the social distancing precautions required because of COVID, all of these events will be conducted virtually. The instructions for how the voting will be accomplished will be shared by Sunday September 20, 2020.


Please click HERE to go to our secure form to submit a question!

Note: DO NOT use this form to submit questions DURING the church conference vote meeting on Sept. 29. Use the chat function during your Zoom meeting.

Leaders from the Building Committee and Capital Campaign will use your input to create a Frequently Asked Questions handout regarding the status of the building renovation project. Your question (anonymously, without individual names attached) may appear in whole or in part in the forthcoming FAQ handout. 

Altering our physical walls

to better serve our faith community

The feel and functionality of our church is essential to our mission and service goals. It is an extension and reflection of who we are and it is the vessel through which we fulfill our commitment and connection to Christ.

By altering and modernizing our inner walls and exterior sidewalks, stairs, ramps, and parking areas, we can provide a more welcoming environment for visitors and current members, shape a more accessible space for our community to gather, ensure our church is ADA compliant, and - maybe most important - provide better access for our ever-growing ministries.

Our Building Committee and Capital Campaign Committees, working together, have helped us move toward this renovation. Design professionals have drawn up architectural plans, surveys, permitting, and other necessary paperwork. Our fundraising effort is ongoing and you can read more about our original goals, expenses, and pledging support on our Giving page.

Goals and Actions

Initial goals for the renovation were identified over a multi-year discernment process. The Capital Campaign Committee was tasked with raising funds sufficient to meet renovation needs. Once we were able to determine the ceiling on our dedicated building renovation donations, the Building Committee was tasked with bringing the architectural plans into alignment with our actual budget.

We have already invested financial resources in site inspections, architectural plans and revisions, and permits. 

There is currently a freeze on building efforts while we revise our plans again to match projected costs and solicit bids from contractors. This freeze also means the community of St. Paul's has time to find our way through this season of uncertainty in the global United Methodist Church and time of covid-19, insofar as the deadlines imposed by the county's permitting process will allow.

Here are some of the original goals:

  1. Our plans create ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant entrances into our building, including from the parking lot to the front door on Armory Avenue, and to the Fellowship Hall. In addition, a new elevator is proposed to directly connect the sanctuary level to the Fellowship Hall. 
  2. Reworking of the Mitchell Street and parking lot entrances will create a more direct pathway to our sanctuary to ease navigation both for new visitors and for those with limited mobility. 
  3. Space adjustments to the Octagon kitchen and coat room area will create a more open space for fellowship opportunities and allow better accessibility, including possible changes to the small bathrooms.
  4. A renovation of the Fellowship Hall will create a more welcoming entrance from the street and greater opportunities for hosting fellowship and ministry work.
  5. Install fire suppressant systems and upgrade aging electrical systems to protect the church we love and invest in long-term safety.

Still have questions? Please write to