Suffield’s First Congregational Church is moving forward with the “public phase” of its Lifting Up Our Community Capital Campaign and the related construction at the church’s building on High Street. The church’s congregation voted to undertake this three-year Capital Campaign and related work to address accessibility issues that have limited the full use of that building.
First Church has been a centerpiece of the Suffield community since the Town’s founding nearly 350 years ago. The church regularly makes its space available to non-profit organizations, local government agencies, and other community groups and citizens who provide services in and around Suffield. Groups recently using First Church’s facility include a preschool that serves over 30 families and has been using the church’s facilities for approximately 40 years, four addiction recovery groups, a guide dog training group, tutoring programs, the Cub Scouts, a preschool music class, and students and teachers attending AP testing programs. The church hosts the Music on High concert series. In addition, the church makes its kitchen facilities available to prepare meals for those in need.
Unfortunately, First Church’s efforts to serve the community have been limited by accessibility issues. The Parish House addition – which was constructed in 1956 and contains a Fellowship Hall, classrooms, and other meeting spaces – has five separate levels that are connected only by multiple stairways. The ramp and stairs entering the church are old and crumbling. The bathrooms are outdated and not fully accessible. These issues pose barriers to access, and do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
First Church’s Capital Campaign is intended to make First Church an accessible, ADA-compliant facility that can serve the entire community. The Campaign seeks to raise $1,150,000 to pay for the installation of a Limited Use/Limited Application (LULA) elevator connecting several levels of the Parish House addition, the construction of ADA-compliant restrooms, the construction of new concrete stairs and an ADA-compliant ramp at the main entrance to the Church, and other related work. Nearly 65% of the Campaign funds already have been raised through donations from the Church’s congregation, and this “internal phase” of the Campaign is ongoing. Preliminary construction work already has begun and full construction is expected to begin within the next few weeks, with completion anticipated in early 2020.
The Church is now moving forward with the “public phase” of the Campaign, where the Church will seek additional contributions from local business and the Suffield community at large. First Church hopes that the Suffield community will embrace and support this important project. More importantly, the project will enable access to all areas of the Church building, will encourage more robust use of the Church’s facilities by local groups, and will improve the delivery of services to the Suffield community.
The Lifting Up Our Community Campaign is co-chaired by local residents Howie and Ann Orr. Rev. Diann Bailey, Acting Senior Pastor. She is fully familiar with the project and provides the continuity necessary for its successful completion. Individuals who have questions about the project are urged to contact Howie, Ann, or Diann, and donations can be sent to First Church of Christ, Congregational, 81 High St., Suffield, CT 06078. In addition, a short video about the Capital Campaign can be viewed on First Church’s website: www.firstchurchsuffield.org/home, under “Announcements.”