Tomorrow will be a big day at New Life Baptist Church. We are asking our members to affirm the decision of the pastoral team to move NLBC to the historic Jermyn Hotel in downtown Scranton (326 Spruce Street).
It seems as though the buzz is all very positive. Most of our ministry leaders have been able to see the space and are very positive. I have not heard any negative comments. I am sure, however, that there are questions. In light of this I put together what I think would be some F.A.Q.s.
What is the Jermyn Hotel?
The Jermyn Hotel is a historic landmark located just two blocks from Scranton’s city square. The ballroom was converted to a theater about ten years ago and a theater company operated from there until last summer. There are still over 80 apartments in the building with many residents. The building is a hub of activity.
Are we renting or buying?
We are renting. We do not have the financial ability to buy a building large enough for us that we can maintain. The ones we could afford would need hundreds of thousands of dollars for improvements and it is just not worth it.
We will be responsible for normal maintenance like cleaning, light bulbs, paper products, etc. We don’t have to worry about the structure or the outside.
Why this property instead of St Josephs on the Northside?
St Joes is way too big and would be the scenario in the above question. Yes, there is a lot of room there but it would all have to be updated and remodeled to meet our needs. This would put a very lengthy financial burden on us and would mean we would be spending a lot of money on stuff and not people. This property is 2.5 blocks from the geographic center of the city which is far more centralized and accessible than St Jospephs.
Where do we park?
There is plenty of on-street parking that is free on Sundays. We can make sure we save the prime parking spots for visitors. There is a parking garage right next door for which we can secure vouchers at a discounted rate. Even parking around the corner on Penn Ave puts you closer to front doors than if you parked in the lot furthest from the door at our old church building.
What construction do we have to do?
NONE! There are plenty of rooms for everything we need (nursery, Kid’s Life, New Life Bible Institute, Family Resource Center, offices, etc). We will need to paint, clean up, and do some cosmetic work. We will have to work on the lighting in the auditorium. It is set up to be a theater and not church auditorium. We have the resources to make this happen.
Will the city give us a certificate of occupancy (C.O.)?
Yes. We had a premlinary inspection last week and there are a few minor things that need to be taken care of. Most of it (2 items) are in regard to plumbing and the landlord will be caring for these things. Once everything is done we will receive our C.O. There are NO zoning issues.
Is this going to cost us more or less than our old place?
The rent is more (3,200) but the utilities are WAY less. The utilities are 500-700 a month. We were paying 1,800 a month. We expect to come out 700-800 ahead every month! The rent number covers the actual rent (the theater space, foyer, and several spacious meeting rooms) and use of the ballroom (unless it gets rented to another party – this will not affect us) as well as the monthly elevator maintenance fee.
What is the seating like in the theater space itself?
There is wrap around, 180 degree seating with chairs that are on risers. Our purple chairs WILL fit on the floor level as there is a huge amount of space. Our seating will increase by about 150 from our old set up. The wrap around seating is preferred because it brings everyone closer to the center.
Are there bathrooms?
Yes! The bathrooms are spacious and bright and there is hot water! There are way more toilets that we ever had in the old place, and none of them are in the auditorium!
What floor is all of this on?
The space is located on the second floor that is accessible by stairs or a nice passenger elevator that is regularly inspected and maintained.
Do we have the resources to make the improvements we want?
Yes, we have banked several thousand dollars from being at the Clarion the past few months.
When will we move in?
We will have the rest of April, May, June, and July to get things set up the way we want them. We will begin holding public worship gatherings in August and plan on a grand opening Sunday September, 9th. I will receive the keys as soon as we sign the lease and will have immediate access to begin work.
Are we still moving ahead with the Life House?
Back in December, as part of a vision casting sermon, we shared our plans to create a non-profit organization that will serve as a holistic outreach ministry to Scranton. We said how St Joes would provide the room for what we needed. This building will do everything for us that we need and it is centrally located. We have a team working to make the Life House dream a reality.
I hope the above questions and answers were informative. We will have a brief question and answer time tomorrow before the congregational vote.