By Kara Witherow, Editor
Attendees of the 2012 South Georgia Annual Conference session saw a presentation on the new South Georgia Conference Center and heard an update on funding from Dr. Hal Brady, chairman of the conference office task force.
To be located on the grounds of Wesleyan College in Macon, the nearly 11,000-square-foot Conference Center will allow many conference offices to work under the same roof instead of being dispersed in multiple office buildings.
“To date, through the generous support of individuals, foundations, and others, we have secured $1,143,962.26,” Dr. Brady said during the Tuesday, June 5 business session. “We’re trying our best to get the fundraising done in the next several months, and we’re so appreciative of the foundations and individuals who have already contributed. We’re hoping that others will contribute so that we may bring this project to a successful conclusion.”
Initial estimates showed that $2.9 million would be needed. During his presentation, Dr. Brady informed the Annual Conference that through deliberate and thoughtful re-working of the budget, it had been reduced to $2.5 million.
The immediate goal of the task force is to get to $2 million. At this date they have secured, as reported to the 2012 South Georgia Annual Conference, $1,143,962.26.
“When we get to $2 million in contributions and pledges, we will work with Bishop King and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration and other appropriate committees, to potentially seek the approval of the Annual Conference to borrow $500,000, with a payback loan of 10 years or longer,” said Dr. Brady. “Of course, the ideal would be to raise the entire 2.5 million and not need a loan. I hope this gives some clarity to where we are in our efforts to raise these funds and to build a new conference center.”
The money used for the payback would be the same $53,154 a year currently being spent to pay rent for two inadequate facilities in Macon. The payback would not cost the Annual Conference any additional funds than the money currently being spent in in rent each year.
All funds have been and will continue to be raised through special giving; funding for the new conference center is not an apportioned item or expense to the local churches.
The need for a new Conference Center isn’t about a desire for a gleaming new building, but about being good stewards of the resources entrusted to the Conference. Since the South Georgia Episcopal Area was formed 21 years ago, the Conference has rented several now-inadequate office spaces in multiple locations.
“We believe the South Georgia Conference will continue to grow and make disciples of Jesus Christ, and we believe that this Conference Center will help,” Dr. Brady said. “We have the dream, we have the gleam, we have the scheme, we have the beam, and we have the team.”
The task force, headed by Dr. Brady and comprised of clergy and lay leaders from across the conference, has been working with architect Bob Brown, conference trustees and Wesleyan College officials. Because of zoning regulations in the Wesleyan College area of Macon, the South Georgia Annual Conference will buy the land, build the center, and lease it from Wesleyan College for $1 per year for 99 years. The North Alabama Conference has a similar relationship with Birmingham Southern College.
Architectural drawings of the proposed conference center show a building that reflects the look and feel of existing Wesleyan College structures, with a brick exterior, curved windows and cupola.