Master Planning Committee Report Presentations on September 27, 2009

Dear WUMC Members and Friends:

For the past year, the Master Planning Committee has been analyzing our church buildings and property, asking members for input on what could be improved, and preparing a plan for the future.  You can also learn more about the history of our church building by visiting the Timeline of WUMC Building page of this site.

Now we are ready to tell you all about it!

Williamsville United Methodist Church
Master Planning Committee Report
September 27, 2009


Original Building, 1847

Ann Killian (
Lynne Stevens (
Lori Pacer (
Dave Laubisch (
Ed Howard (

Lay Leader:
Dave Reichard

Daryl Bennett, John Wetherwax (through June, 2009)
Rich Neal, Nick Perry


We welcome your comments and suggestions. E-mail the Trustees by clicking the links above.



Beginning as a one room building in the mid-1840’s, Williamsville United Methodist Church has seen 6 additions over the decades. Now it is time for our church to change again, but in 2009 we are recommending something different.

Church Exterior, 1926In the past the congregation added new space in response to a growing membership; in 2009 we are recommending reconfiguration of the space we already have to make our existing building to work better for a membership that will be stable for the foreseeable future.

Over the past decade attendance at WUMC has been consistent with about 300 people attending worship on a typical Sunday. Against a background of declining population in Western New York, attendance falling at many United Methodist churches and competition from local mega-churches, we do not expect a significant increase in our numbers. We will continue to be a strong church, but not a much bigger church.

So rather than add square footage we want to make better use of the building we have.

This will be hard to do. We are attached to our building - we have learned to live within it. We often sit in the same pew, overlook the quirks and inconveniences and work around the problems.

In the past adding new space was less disruptive because no one was already settled in and being asked to change; today everyone is settled in and being asked to change. Human beings don’t like change.

But it is change we propose because at this time this is the right path for our church.

This document will explain our recommendations and describe the benefits we expect to gain. There will be many opportunities in the coming weeks to hear more about the details of the Master Plan as well as ask questions and make suggestions.

Plate depicting Church exterior, 1950Please call or write to any member of the Master Planning Committee with your ideas!

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
-Isaiah 65:17


Goals and Priorities

In April, 2008 the Lay Leaders Council asked the Trustees to create a Master Plan for our church’s buildings and property, and report in 2009. We did our work with two objectives in mind:

  • Assure the structural integrity of the buildings and property
  • Ask the congregation what improvements would make our buildings and property work better for worship, prayer and education

After months of work, including many opportunities for WUMC members to share their opinions and ideas for improvements, the committee identified six priorities:

1. Long Term Replacement Of the Narthex/Oakgrove Roof

Initially built in 1975 and rebuilt in about 1991 the roof has again reached the end of it’s design lifespan. The goal is to install a replacement roof that will have a 15-20 year lifespan.

2. Safer, More Reliable, More Convenient Elevator Service

The “Elevette” we use today is not safe, it is not reliable, and it is difficult to use. People get stuck in it regularly, it breaks often, if the gate isn’t closed it can’t be called from other floors, and more. The goal is to install an elevator that has more space in it, looks and works like a modern office elevator and makes the elevator part of a formal entrance to the building from the parking lot, not a back door.

3. Improved Exterior Appearance

One way to describe it would be to say that our church building has “good bones” but is need of a facelift. Ugly peeling paint, multiple colors of siding, disintegrating entry stairs at Main Street and other problems make our building unattractive. The goal will be to provide a common outside appearance consistent with our village colonial design.

4. Improve Traffic Flow And Use Of Space

During the 20th century our building has had 6 additions and our rooms have been used in many different ways. We have plenty of space but the way we use it can be improved. Our goal is to make interior changes that allow our building meet the needs of the congregation we have today, and are likely to have in the future.

5. Update, Redecorate The Inside Of The Church

Many members commented that the church looks shabby, cluttered and run-down, that it is time to bring portions of our décor out of the 1950’s. Our goal is to bring the interior appearance up-to-date, to look new, but keep faith with our traditional atmosphere..

6. Improve The Parking Lot Situation

Parking is difficult, getting into the building from the parking lot is not convenient, the storage shed/trash can area is often messy and the parking lot is poorly lit at night. Our goal is to work with the limited space that we have to improve these conditions as much as possible.


Our Recommendations

The following section details and describes the benefits for each our recommendations.

1. Replace Narthex/Oakgrove Roof

Replace the existing roof with one that is similar in appearance but rebuilt from the steel decking to the rubber membrane. This roof will be “new” with a 15-20 year lifespan.

We had three options for the roof (1) rebuild the existing roof “as is”, (2) build a peaked roof with attic-type storage space, and (3) build a peaked roof with useable space underneath. Options 2 & 3 add up to $200K in cost when we think there is enough space in the present building and would rather spend limited funds for other improvements.

2. Better Elevator /Nice Parking Lot Entrance

(click here to link to the floor plan showing the new Elevator/Stairs)

Sanctuary Floor PlanBuild a new south entrance tower that extends into the parking lot in the area where the shed stands now that will include a new elevator and nicely finished stairway, making this a formal entrance into the building.

The proposed new entrance would stand where the shed and light pole are today and would make getting into and out of the building more convenient and safer, both day and night. People coming in this door would be out of the weather immediately and it provides a more welcoming entrance than we have now. People leaving at night would have a better view into the parking lot before leaving the building.

3. Improved Exterior Appearance

Install siding on the “pink” painted areas of the building to match the sided portions of the sanctuary; replace multi-colored siding on the east side of the sanctuary with a single color; demolish and rebuild Main Street entrance steps; improve drainage away from building; miscellaneous window and sill repairs, as needed. The shed will be removed and storage integrated into the building behind the new entrance. The utility pole will be moved. Property will be re-graded to flow water away from the building.

It goes without saying that the outside of the building must be improved. The “pink” area will be sided to match the Sanctuary portion of the building, the mess around the shed and trash cans will be moved out of sight from the street and various small repairs will be done. There are concerns with moisture in some areas of the lower floor but the expert opinion is that in most cases this has to do with proper sloping of land away from a building.

4. Improve Traffic Flow and Interior Usage

The majority of our recommendation involves changes inside the building to use the space we have better, rather than building new space.


Build a half solid-half glass wall behind the last row of the main seating section with doors to create a true sanctuary, closed off from other parts of the church, and creating a corridor from one side of the building to the other. (click here to see the floor plan showing the new Sanctuary wall)

Today you must walk through the Sanctuary to get from one side of the building to the other, even when there is a worship service or other activity in progress. Before worship there is a constant buzz of activity at the back of the Sanctuary which is disruptive to those preparing for worship. As people enter from the Narthex they often stop to talk, blocking others from entering. After worship traffic flow to greet the pastors steers people out the Narthex door and away from coffee hour in the Parlor.

These problems are solved by making the Sanctuary a separate space. We recommend a rear wall which would be glass in the upper portion and removable to expand the Sanctuary as needed for peak attendance Sundays or special events.

By removing the back section of pews we have room to have a corridor across the church and a place to greet the pastors after worship that allows people to go to coffee hour easily.

You may ask, “If we take out these pews will there be enough seating?” and the answer is “Yes, there will be enough seats.” Without the rear seating area the capacity of the Nave and Balcony is 264 people and in the past year at our three best attended services (Easter 11 AM, Confirmation Sunday and Christmas Eve 5PM) we did not exceed this number. Typical Sunday attendance at 11 AM (not counting the choir) is about 140 people so we just reach a little more than 50% of capacity

Air condition the Sanctuary, improve lighting under the balcony, expand seating in the choir loft, remove grid between choir and congregation while still making the cross and flame a center of attention and allowing installation of the Poinsettia Wreath and Lilly Cross.

When then Sanctuary is enclosed we can efficiently air condition it during the hottest summer months. Wendy and Judy have asked for additional space in the choir loft so folding chairs don’t need to be brought out. We received many comments that the grid hides the choir when they sing, detracting from one of the major assets of our church. The Poinsettia Wreath and Lilly Cross are well-loved traditional features of our Sanctuary and we want to retain them.

Choir Room

Upper Level Floor PlanMove the choir room to the upper floor in the location where the Senior High room/gym is now, the present Junior High room is split to become a larger robe room and a separate Music office.
(click here to see the floor plan showing the new Choir Room)

This gives our choir a larger space to rehearse and lets seats be arranged in a way that makes it easier for Wendy and Judy to work. With 30 to 40 singers putting on robes on a Sunday morning a larger robe room makes this easier to do without people bumping into each other. The Music office remains the same size and stays next to the choir room. The existing rear stairway will be removed, a floor will be added and this will give the music program additional storage space. All music activities are on the same level.

Permanent Classroom

On the west side of the present gym area build a permanent adult classroom that has modern audio-visual facilities built in.
(click here to see the floor plan showing the new Permanent Classroom)

Today we do not have an adult classroom; we make do with a circle of chairs in the Parlor, in the gym, or elsewhere. Sometimes classes compete with sounds from other parts of the building, if a video is part of the class we wheel in a 19” TV and tape player. The goal is to create one quiet, dedicated, fully equipped adult classroom.

New Parlor/Second Narthex

Our current Parlor becomes a second narthex for people entering from the new elevator/stairway; the present choir room becomes the Parlor which is furnished in a living-room style. Multiple doors open to the Narthex allowing for larger groups, as necessary. The kitchen moves to the new Parlor. In the Second Narthex a coat room is added for people entering from the South Entrance and a Donations Center central to both entrances is created for the Food Pantry and drop-offs.
(click here to see the floor plan showing the New Parlor and Second Narthex)

Today’s parlor is really a multi-purpose room which is arranged and re-arranged for whatever meeting or event is happening that day or evening. The new Parlor will be permanently furnished as a Parlor, providing a nice, comfortable place for people to meet and talk before and after church. Multiple doors will open to the Second Narthex to accommodate large receptions. The Donation Center will give people a place to put donated items and not have them pile up in the coat room. A second coat room will serve people coming in from the parking lot through the new elevator/stairway.

Expand Office Work Area

The office area will be expanded to allow a bigger general purpose work area for tasks such as assembling the Messenger and Sunday bulletin. A new office will be added for Christian Education.
(click here to see the floor plan showing the Expanded Office Work Area)

Communications amongst staff members works better when everyone is in the same place; today the Christian Education office is isolated from the others. The workroom is inadequate for routine weekly tasks that involve large amounts of paper, assembling documents, etc. Since the workroom was built 30 years ago we have added new printers, copiers, a fax machine and the volume of work done there has increased.

Permanently Set Up Meeting Room

The library will continue to have bookshelves but will also be permanently arranged as a meeting room so that staff and other groups can use it as needed.
(click here to see the floor plan showing the permanent Meeting Room)

Today the church does not have a designated meeting space that is available to groups as needed; every meeting is a special event that requires moving tables and chairs. By having a permanent meeting room a properly equipped space will be available all the time.

Relocate Crib Room Next To Sanctuary

As part of other changes in the present Oakgrove Narthex the Crib Room is moved to a place next to the Sanctuary.

(click here to see the floor plan showing the Crib Room)

By making the Crib Room more obvious to people as they enter the church, moving it closer to the Sanctuary so it is more accessible and by making it look better we expect it will be used more often. A pleasant, convenient, easy-to-get-to crib room will be more attractive than our current Crib Room.

Three New Downstairs Classrooms - Dedicated Christian Education Space

Lower Level Floor PlanThree new classrooms will be built in the present Fellowship Hall area; a separate, dedicated Christian Education room will be built downstairs.

(click here to see the floor plan showing the downstairs classroom area)

Individual classrooms are primarily used by Open Door Nursery School and this plan consolidates them in the same general area; today one classroom is quite a distance away from the others.

Today Christian Education does not have a space to call its own and this plan creates a room under the sole control of the Christian Education program. This does not mean Christian Education is confined to this space, rather it is for their exclusive use while other parts of building are shared with other groups.

New Multipurpose Room/Fellowship Hall

Relocate the Fellowship Hall to an area under the Sanctuary at the Chancel end of the building. Shorten the kitchen by removing the commercial dishwasher, remove the present Crib Room and open the space that is an ODNS classroom today.

(click here to see the floor plan showing the new Fellowship Hall)

Times have changed and we no longer have large meals or other events requiring as much space or a commercial kitchen to prepare food. We rarely fill Fillmore Hall any more.

The new multi-purpose room would be a shared-use space with the ODNS gym, Boy Scouts, Village Exercise class and other outside groups using it as needed.

Equal Junior Hi/Senior Hi Rooms

Make equally sized rooms for Junior and Senior Hi youth groups.

(click here to see the floor plan showing the Junior and Senior High rooms)

Today the Senior Hi has a large dedicated room while the Junior Hi has a much smaller space. This plan creates a new space that is larger than the current space used by both youth groups and divides it evenly between them.

ADA Compliant Restrooms

Relocate restrooms on the Sanctuary level to space currently occupied by the Christian Education and Music offices; make these restrooms and restrooms on the lower level compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

(click here to see the floor plan showing restrooms on the Sanctuary level;
click here to see the floor plan showing restrooms on the lower level)

Our present restroom facilities on both levels do not allow for use by someone in a wheel chair or other equipment used by a person who has difficulty moving around. In line with our social principles regarding equal access for everyone we should make these facilities easy to use for anyone who comes into our building.

New Main Entrance

Design a new main entrance to the church that faces Main Street and has a walkway that connects to Main Street while retaining easy access from Oakgrove for people who park in the shopping plaza.
(click here to see the floor plan showing the new entrance area)

When the Trustees first began talking with architects about changes to our building one observed, “Your church has no front door.” He meant that it is not obvious to the visitor which door is the primary entrance.

Other people have commented that our church is not obvious to passersby on Main Street, that people who have lived here a long time didn’t know there is a church at the corner of Oakgrove and Main.

Putting a new entry on the church will make it obvious where the front door is and, we hope, make our building more visible. We realize that many people will still park in the plaza and enter from Oakgrove so our challenge it to continue to make it easy for people to do that but at the same time promote our church by making it more visible and generating awareness.

5. Redecorate And Update The Interior Décor

Redecoration will be addressed as new space is created when interior changes are made. The Master Plan does not get into specifying colors, styles or furnishings for redesigned rooms at this time, though we assume that such redecoration as is needed will be up-to-date but in keeping with our traditional, colonial style.

6. Parking Lot

Extend parking lot to the grassy area at the end of the current lot and add new lighting. New entrance will be more convenient for drop-off/pick-up and leaving the building at night. Integrate storage shed into the building for yard equipment.

As noted we cannot expand our parking lot but we will make it more convenient, better lighted and more attractive. Storage for yard equipment and trash cans will be on the far side of the elevator tower, more and better lighting will make the parking lot safer at night and the new elevator tower will allow a person being dropped off to get indoors, out of the weather immediately.


The Not-To-Exceed Budget is $2M

  • Very, very broad estimate of costs based on industry averages
  • Cost becomes better defined as details become more specific
  • Assumes a phased approach to construction - future costs are less predictable, loss of efficiency compared to single project

Our recommendation is to complete this as a single project because doing so will minimize cost, reduce chaos and disruption and let us enjoy the benefits of our new design as soon as possible.

If We Must Take A Phased Approach


Phase One

  • Replace the Oakgrove/Narthex roof
  • Build new elevator and stairway entrance from parking lot
  • Siding for pink block area and east side of Sanctuary
  • Glazed wall and doors at rear of Sanctuary/side-to-side building access
  • Improve parking lot lighting, rebuild Main Street stairs, re-grade yard, other miscellaneous repairs
  • Air condition the Sanctuary

Phase Two

  • Move choir room to upper level
  • Build new classroom on upper level
  • Convert choir room to parlor, current parlor to narthex, new office, coat and donation rooms off narthex
  • Add ADA lavatories on Sanctuary level

Phase Three

  • New entry facing Main Street
  • Reconfigure existing Oakgrove narthex for expanded offices, crib room, sitting area, meeting room
  • Lower level changes to classrooms, multi-purpose room, ADA standard lavatories


What Next?

After investigating the needs of the church and creating a proposed plan the Master Plan Committee wants you to study this recommendation, ask questions and offer comments.


  • October 4th - 10 AM - Questions and Answers at Contemporary Issues
  • October 11th - 10 AM - Open Forum - location to be determined
  • October 18th - 10 AM - Open Forum - location To Be Determined
  • October 4th, 11th and 18th - Q&A booth at coffee hour after 11 AM service
  • Ongoing - Comment Forms and drop boxes in Oakgrove and Main St. narthexes
  • Ongoing - Information and comment through church website


Late October/Early November

The Master Plan Committee will sort the comments and suggestions to revise the proposed plan as needed and prepare a final recommendation.


Present the final recommendation to the congregation per the Book of Discipline

  • Affirmative vote at Charge Conference
  • Approval by Senior Pastor and District Superintendent
  • Approval by District Board of Trustees

If the recommendation is approved at these levels then Building and Capital Funds committees will be formed.

If the recommendation is built as a single project then anticipate a formal dedication of our “new” building on September 11, 2011.


Original Building 1847

The original building - 1847

Tower - 1906 and Spire - 1917

Tower built 1906, spire added 1917

Main Street Entrance 1950

1949 - 1950 Renovation of Main St. entrance

1949 - Sanctuary

1949 - Sanctuary before renovation

1950 - Sanctuary

1950 - Sanctuary after renovation

More on the history of our church...