Church Renovation Project

Rejuvenating for our 200th Anniversary


Artist's rendering of rejuvenated Sanctuary

August: The Finish Line is in Sight

The structural work is essentially complete, and we are in the final phase of the project, for both phase 1 (Garnsworthy room and offices) and phase 2 (sanctuary). The patio is complete; next comes the landscaping. In the sanctuary the old hardwood floors are being refinished; elsewhere new carpet and new tile flooring is being installed. At the back of the sanctuary, the new family room, the rejuvenated tower entrance, and the new sound booth are taking shape.

The Design Committee is now turning its attention to choosing furniture. Committee members are looking for furnishings that are beautiful, sturdy, and with a really contemporary feel, but above all, functional in a variety of uses – for meetings and discussions, for reading and learning, for office work, and for relaxing and socializing in.

And now we ask: when will everything be ready for our first service? We are estimating we will have our first service in the sanctuary on October 12, or at the latest, on October 19 which is the date for the annual Vestry meeting. The decor may seem a little sparse at first as some finishing touches will happen after we return to the sanctuary. On November 2 we will have the official opening and dedication, with the Bishop in attendance.

July: On Track Despite Challenges

The renovation continues to proceed smoothly and still scheduled to finish on time in mid-September. Of course, one of things that we, wardens and staff, have learned during the last six months is to prepare for the unpredictable. However, we are on budget and with prudent management have not yet used up the contingency fund for the construction phase.

You, the congregation, have helped so much in allowing us to respond to unexpected challenges. Your response to our special fundraising campaign has enabled us to go ahead with many items that were not predicted during the planning stages two years ago before the construction actually began. The following is a summary of some of those issues that have been resolved as a result of the generosity of the members of St. John’s.

  • The 100-year-old Steinway grand is being restored and will be back in the sanctuary for our re-opening.
  • The repair and maintenance of the organ pipes will take place just before our re-opening when the organ is unwrapped.
  • The previous pulpit and lectern are being repurposed into three beautiful pieces of furniture, two for the foyer and one for the baptismal niche in the sanctuary.
  • Technology for broadcasting sound and visuals will link the sanctuary to the Garnsworthy Room and the family room (at the rear of the sanctuary).
  • The data network is being extended to the renovated spaces and to rooms in the basement to facilitate meetings and activities.
  • The deteriorating roof over the north wing is being replaced in August.

The design committee is in the process of buying good quality furniture for all three spaces that need new furnishings: Garnsworthy, foyer, and family room (the original narthex at the back of the sanctuary). The original budget for furnishings was not lavish, so the additional funds are allowing us to choose better quality and sturdiness as well as style and comfort.

June: Time to Get Outdoors

You may have noticed that there has been some excavation work adjacent to the foyer. The builders are digging the ground to lay the foundation for the new patio that will expand the existing foyer so that the gathering space will include both an indoor area and an outdoor area. The patio will feature lighting, built-in seating, and barrier-free access from the foyer.

The new patio will be a great place to gather before and after Sunday services, and it will serve as an inviting setting for scheduled summertime events. Events in past summers have included Wednesday evening Que and Pew – a barbecue dinner followed by talk and discussion around a theme from the Bible – and Wine and Wisdom – gatherings where we explore spirituality and discover the ways that God works within our lives. Sadly, another summertime tradition – the annual Bocce Ball Tournament – may have to find a new home due to the patio.

In support of the renovation, the community was asked to consider contributing to the Renewal 2014 initiative. The wardens, the design committee, and the staff are working diligently to manage resources for the renovation and to stay within budget. Despite our best efforts, a number of unforeseen items have arisen, including the need to replace the flat roofs over the new office and Garnsworthy rooms, and to repair and restore the piano and organ. The good news is that you, the members of St. John’s community of faith, have responded, and your givings have allowed us to make some difficult decisions. We thank all of you who have donated, and ask those who are planning to donate to do so if possible before the end of July.

Toward the end of August, we will begin, with help from the Lychgate Group, to prepare the Renewal 2014 Memorial Book. If you will be a part of the the Memorial Book, you can expect to hear from us in early September about preparing your own page.

May: Working Twice as Hard

With phases 1 and 2 both underway, the construction workers are now at their busiest. Phase 2 is in full swing in the sanctuary. Existing furnishings and fixtures have been removed and put in storage, and the workers have started the structural work to bring the renovation designs to life. The balcony over the top of the chapel has been removed, opening the chapel area up to the nave and revealing the lovely upper stained glass windows that have been obscured all these years. In the next couple of weeks, the workers will begin outside, digging the footings for the new patio which will be located off the foyer to the west side. The foyer wall is being opened up to give access to the patio; the angel windows that were part of that wall are being relocated to the wall of the transept (the area where the band used to play).

Meanwhile phase 1 continues. With the major structural work essentially complete, workers are now doing the interior construction. This includes putting up drywall in the new Garnsworthy room and church office zone, and framing and finishing the new passageway from the Garnsworthy room into the foyer.

Regular services have now been held in the auditorium for a month. We thank everyone in the congregation for taking the changes to our routine in stride and for reaching out to guests and visitors to make them feel welcome. We are fortunate to have many volunteers, including the lift operators, to help things run smoothly. We are also thankful that the church continues to be a safe place, both for the crew in the construction zone, and for everyone else making their way around.

One unexpected bonus with the relocated services is that congregants are sitting in different places and having chances to interact with different people. This is creating new connections and opportunities for friendship. And now that the warm weather has finally arrived, our time of fellowship after each service includes lemonade on the lawn. Please take a few minutes after each service to enjoy each other’s company.

April: Phase 2 – The Sanctuary – Begins

The last service in the sanctuary took place on the morning of Sunday, April 27. It was nostalgic but also filled with joy and anticipation. In the afternoon, our annual Musicfest filled the sanctuary with music, finishing with a soaring performance of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. On Monday morning, April 28, with some sadness, the sanctuary was closed to parishioners.  It won’t reopen until the new rejuvenated sanctuary and all the newly renovated areas are ready for us to worship in. We expect this to happen in September.

Phase One work is proceeding smoothly and is on time for completion in September. The new office space, the new kitchen and the new Garnsworthy Room are taking shape behind the orange door. Steel girders delineate the various rooms and drywall is going up as I write.

The plumbing in the washrooms and kitchen has been roughed in, the new windows have been installed, (have a look at them; they are gorgeous) and drywall is going up. The millwork will also begin very shortly for cabinets and shelving.

Unfortunately, during one of our recent storms, walls began running with water. We discovered that the ten-year-old roof had serious leakage problems and that the insulation had become wet and soggy and threatened to develop mould. This is a serious problem. It has been determined that the roof is not under warranty and must be replaced over the north wing and over the cloister area, with a cost of upwards of $35,000. This is indeed a major hiccup, but fortunately, it was discovered before it could do any damage to the new walls or floors. A new roof will be arriving soon. The contingency fund that was built into the budget by the wardens and finance committee will cover the costs of the new roof without taking us over budget, but it does mean that our costs must now be kept absolutely under control to stay within budget.

And now the work begins in the foyer, the sanctuary and the old narthex. Some of the highlights of this work:

  • The angel windows in the foyer were carefully removed, to be hung later in the south nave with backlighting. New clear windows and French doors in the foyer will allow us access to the new patio, an area about which we are all excited. Unfortunately, the patio will most likely not be ready for this summer’s use.
  • The front pews in the sanctuary will be replaced with solid wooden upholstered chairs with kneelers. The best of the pews will be place in the west section and the rest of the pews will be sold.
  • The pulpit and lectern will be removed and repurposed into three pieces of furniture for the new baptismal area and the foyer.
  • The altar platform will be removed, and the altar brought closer to the seating. The communion rail will come down to floor level. The chancel will be extended a few feet into the sanctuary to give better sightlines to parishioners sitting in the chapel area, which will be opened up into the sanctuary, with the balcony over the chapel and the wall separating chapel and sanctuary removed.
  • The narthex is becoming the “family room”, where mothers and fathers can take energetic or cranky children and still see and hear what is going on in the sanctuary. There will be some clear windows giving visual access and speakers/screens to transmit the sound. We hope to have some comfy chairs for parents to sit.

These are just a few of the details of what will be happening during Phase Two. The work will finish in late summer and we hope in time for Welcome Back Sunday.

If you have questions about what is happening, do ask a member of the Design Committee — Carolyn Martin, Yvonne McGregor, Carolyn Dobias and Sylvia McConnell, or Bob Girard of the property committee.

To find out how you can help with the renovation, please take a look at the Renovation Memorial Book page.

March: Phase 1 is Well Under Way

The plywood in the foyer and the construction dumpster in the parking lot are the first signs that construction for the rejuvenation of our building has begun.

The first phase focuses on the Garnsworthy Room and what was formerly the office area. Throughout Lent and Easter, we will continue to access the Sanctuary for Sunday services through the foyer. The office has moved to the south side of the Sanctuary and is now up and running, accessible from the east door. It is on the second floor at the far end of the corridor. The rector’s office in on the first floor in the same area.

The second phase of renovation beginning after Easter will focus on the Sanctuary and, at that stage, we will need to adjust to where we gather for Sunday worship. We ask for your patience and flexibility as we learn new routines during the time of construction and adapt to the changes in how we access the church for worship and other activities.

With parts of the church becoming a construction zone, we also ask for your prayers for the safety of the people working on the renovation as well as the Design Committee as they focus on creating a warm and inviting physical space that brings people together.

February: Construction Starts

Yes, we are finally under construction as work is getting under way on February 10, 2014. Our renovation project met all Diocesan requirements and received official approval in late January and with this approval in hand, the lead contractor, Kembic Construction, was selected and notified. The first meeting with the project manager and the site super was on January 31. Overseeing Kembic Construction’s renovation efforts will be our parish project manager, Bob Girard; our architect, David Parker; our verger, Bill Dennis; and members of the Design Committee.

How We Will Proceed

The renovation will proceed in two phases. The initial phase, kicking off in February, will focus on the office and Garnsworthy Room areas. The offices will be temporarily relocated to the Church School area during construction.  Regular worship services will be unaffected and will continue to be held in the sanctuary until after Easter. The second phase, which includes the sanctuary and the foyer, won’t begin until after Easter. Once work begins on the sanctuary, worship services will either continue to be held in the sanctuary, construction permitting, or will be held in the auditorium.

During both phases of the project, coffee time after for the 10 a.m. service will be in the auditorium and the lift will be staffed so that everyone can descend comfortably to that level. Coffee time after the 8 a.m. service will be in the Shepard Room.

Washrooms on the auditorium level and on the first floor of the Church School area will be available.

If you are unsure where to find any of the rooms or facilities, please ask one of the duty wardens, who will have a key to the lift and can help you get where you want to go.

Volunteers Needed

We hope that many of you will be excited about getting involved and helping out with the smooth running of our services during the renovation. There is a particular need for lift operators after the ten a.m. service. If you are willing to be trained (it takes two minutes) and screened (it takes ten minutes), we will heartily welcome you into the lift ministry on a Sunday morning. If you are willing to help out, please email Sylvia McConnell at

Looking Forward

This is an exciting time as we begin the physical changes to our facility — all aimed at creating a more welcoming environment for our faith community to worship together and welcome visitors and new members.

Anticipating a wonderful rejuvenated church, we ask that every member of St. John’s be flexible and patient with the many changes in routine. Clergy, wardens and staff will be doing everything possible to minimize the impact of the renovation on our worship services.

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