Property Team & Finance Team
December 2022 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
Barry Cooper has served on this team for 1 ½ years, and is the deacon representative, leading meetings and taking minutes. “I chose this team (in order) to serve the needs of the body at GEPC by caring for and improving the church,” he explained. “The Property Team has a mandate to oversee and steward the property resources of the church, maintaining the physical church, everything from the heating and cooling system, the mow team, snow removal group and of course the church building itself.”
Team member John Wopata, a member of this team for around 5 years, stressed the need to maintain the church’s various inspections, insuring Gashland remains in compliance with city codes for the elevators, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, and drinking water supply, as each area is inspected annually. Part of John’s work involves constantly seeking ways to reduce costs. “We look for cost savings opportunities in how the facility is operated. In 2021 we worked with Pastor Cable to review the needs for phone service. In 2020 phone service cost $5,700. In 2022 that cost was reduced to $3,200.” This year the church was able to change to a new company to maintain and monitor the fire alarm system at an annual savings of $1,400. John noted, “Of course the biggest item that everybody notices is the maintenance and repairs of the heating and cooling system.”
The extent of church property to be overseen and maintained is amazing! There are 21 heating and air conditioning systems, all but 3 being over 20 years old. The parking lots and driveways cover approximately 95,000 square feet of area. The buildings themselves encompass about 110,000 square feet of floor space. The sanctuary stained glass windows are 70+ years old and now require some repairs.
Often repairs or upgrades are several years in the making. For instance, the successful “Save the Rail” plan to restore/sand/paint outside railings recently resulted in a great improvement to the church’s outside appearance. Though this was seemingly accomplished fairly quickly, it had actually been in planning stages for 5 years. In 2019 a major project was changing all lights over to the more economical/efficient LED variety. Both of these tasks required considerable organization by the Property Team, including soliciting many church members to volunteer to help bring these plans to fruition, as evidenced by Mark Blakley assembling a volunteer group for “Save the Rail.”
A team member since approximately 2010, Dale Anderson states “I meet to plan for needed maintenance and join with others to fix broken things or monitor outside contractors.” He explained that when a repair cannot be completed by church volunteers, it is sometimes necessary to hire individuals or private companies to come in to provide this work. “We plan for upcoming repairs, and schedule them based on budget, prioritizing as needed. I enjoy keeping the facility in good running order.”
Mr. Wopata related why he chose to serve on the Property Team, “My work experience was 45 years in engineering and facility management at the GM and Ford plants in Kansas City. There aren’t too many maintenance issues at the church that I haven’t seen before.” He further offered that this group serves as a technical resource to other teams. Any physical changes proposed for the church must be run by the Property Team prior to implementation. Barry clarified, “We consult and partner with other teams on changes and/or improvements. We have a great group of skilled men and women using their unique gifts to extend God’s Kingdom!”
Having served as Finance Team chair for the entire 20 year existence of the team (formerly designated a “committee”), Phil Josephson provided information regarding this group. As its name indicates, this team handles all financial matters for Gashland. Basically, its stated Purpose is “To be stewards of all God’s financial affairs at GEPC. To study, review, develop and monitor all financial information, practices, procedures, policies, data and trends and report to the Session and Congregation.” The Finance Team is responsible for preparation of a budget to be presented to the Session for its consideration.
In addition to Phil serving as Chair since its inception, Roger Neemann has served as Treasurer for nearly 20 years, and Marlene Weatherford is the current financial secretary. Other members include Larry Anderson, Charlie Deis, Rick Johnson and Landon Welch. The team coordinates 5 three-member counting teams, one for each week of the month, including when a fifth Sunday occurs. And Finance is responsible for “nineteen separate policies and procedures to guide, direct and protect the financial well-being of Gashland. We take stewardship seriously,” concluded Mr. Josephson.
And both the Finance and Property Teams further exemplify Christ’s teaching to us, “INASMUCH as you have done it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”