Bethesda Q&A

Q  I have a concern about objection by  the neighbors to the north especially about the stated height of the proposed buildings of 3-4 stories.

A  The neighbors within a 500 foot radius will be invited to a hearing by Sacramento County.  Architects are able to design and mitigate such concerns by setbacks and the use of foliage and trees.  Trees will be subject to environmental review and as such my need to be left in the master design. 


Q  Would Carden School be interested in extending a lease of the school classrooms beyond 2022 if the Bethesda partnership is not successful?

A  Certainly Carden would be a good long term tenant if they can re-establish their school and grow.  The administrators are hopeful that parents will be searching for a classical education to help their children catch up academically after the current pandemic situation eases.  t this point they are looking at our site as a two year start up, but at Town and Country  they have facilities including classrooms, playground and athletics that would accommodate expansion.


Q  Sharing a pastor with Bethesda is a new factor.  When did this get added?

A  Sharing a pastor has been offered by Bethesda as a possible way to strengthen the proposed partnership and as a way to ease the financial burden on Town and Country.  The more the Executive Team looked at the reality of calling a pastor the more we realized that the concerns of a previously called pastor about Town and Country’s finances needed to be addressed as we get to the position of calling a pastor.  Balancing a budget of a church worshiping 90 on a Sunday while expending $11,000 in mortgage payments will be a continuing problem until it is addressed.


Q  At one of the initial meetings with Bethesda representatives the terms “partnership” and “ministry opportunities” raised interest.  What will this look like? 

A  When presented with a possibility of 100-150 prospective members and souls next door to our church we can imagine the possible ministry opportunities.  This Cornerstone project is a new concept and we don’t have an example to point to concrete examples of what it may look like.  However a similar situation has occurred recently in Hales Corner Lutheran Church in Wisconsin, who has begun a partnership with Steeple View, a residential community for the the elderly.   Our leaders have been invited to travel to have a look at what ministry is being done there with a chaplain


Q  After the sale of the property, what are the contractual responsibilities of T&C towards Bethesda Communities and of Bethesda Communities towards T&C?”  E.g. Will Bethesda be entitled to schedule our sanctuary and/or friendship center?  For how many hours?  With what priorities?  The Letter of Intent states: “Bethesda understands the Sanctuary and the gymnasium and associated ministry space is not a part of this proposed redevelopment concept and shall not be a part of this redevelopment plan.”  Does this mean that T&C will have no contractual obligation to make the sanctuary and the friendship center available for use by Bethesda?  Or does it only mean that these spaces are not being remodeled?


Q What other resources are we sharing?  For example, T&C will depend on BC for adequate parking.  

A  Of course, as partners Bethesda would have access to our Friendship Center and sanctuary.  Shuffleboard, pickleball and other recreational activities have been mentioned in discussions about the Friendship Center.  The Friendship Center is not part of the Bethesda design and development.

It is true that Bethesda is actually paying Town and Country for the existing parking lot.  The architectural design will include repesentatives of T and C every step of the way as a partner as the community is developed from concept.  Details regarding hours and priority of use would be an excellent topic for ongoing discussion.


Q  The letter of intent states that it is Bethesda’s vision to “Forge a collaboration between Town and Country Lutheran Church and Bethesda Lutheran Communities that supports the ministries and financial sustainability of both organizations.”  What does this obligate us to do?   
A  Bethesda representatives have been clear from the start of discussions that in this project Bethesda and Town and Country are partners in Christian ministry.  The reason that the Executive Team has raised the asking price is to guarantee the financial sustainability of Town and Country.  Bethesda representatives are presently calculating whether their financial proformas which will incorporate  120 residential units or more will be in line with ours given the asking price. Please PRAY that these two financial projections are compatible!


Q  What will happen to the trees in Camp Jackrabbit and the new barbecue pits?

A   A mandatory environmental review may require that some of the established trees be preserved.  Aesthetically, the site design would be wise to incorporate as much green space as possible, but this is subject to requirements for parking, access, easements and residential square footage.  Ideally, we would like to find another location  for the barbecue equipment if they can be moved.  In the meantime let us plan to celebrate the Eagle Scout project by using them! 


Q  What will happen to the playground structure?

A   The structure no doubt has value if it can be transported.  We know of a Christian School which is interested in it. Of course, Carden School would desire use of it within their possible tenancy. The two newer modular classrooms may have value as well.  Town and Country has the contractural right to sell or dispose of both the playground and modular classrooms.


Q  Sharing a full time pastor, is the cost shared by both? 

A  Bethesda is currently sharing a Pastor at another site in Wisconsin.  They call it a Chaplaincy position, and involves the Pastor spending about 8 hours of his workweek ministering to that senior living community.  We anticipate the same scenario hear, and are proposing that they fund 20% of our Pastoral budget once they are up and running. 


Q  Since the parking lot is also being sold, is that staying a parking lot or is that going to be built on? 

A  They have not yet developed a site plan, and so we don’t know exactly how things will look.  What we do know is that we will end up with the same amount of parking that we now have – at a minimum..  


Q  I am wondering if the sale price is going to cover our debt. And if not will the congregation be able to pay the remainder? 

A  The entire sales proceeds will go toward our existing loans, and our proposal back to them leaves about a $350,000 unpaid balance.  The balance will then be refinanced, and the Congregation should be able to fully service that new loan.


Q  Since the committee has been working on this and we really have not heard to much about what changes will be make except for the buildings that will be torn down and the amount of land that will be sold including the parking lot. I was wondering if you could share with me what type of changes might happen for our congregation?   

A  We will not know what things will physically look like until their site plan is developed.  We envision that their community will create a new ministry opportunity, and that our current ministries will not be affected much, i.e. things going on at Friendship Center.  


Q   How did Bethesda find us for this project? 

A  Pastor Walt Tiegen, the father of Linda Pugh from Heartsong is on the Bethesda board and informed them of our land and closed school.  I don’t know what came first, them looking in the Sacramento area, or him bringing up the Sacramento area. . 



Q  What staffing will Bethesda hire? Does it expect the church to fill some roles? (Example: landscaping, front office, etc.) 

A  I don’t know, but we can look into.  


Q  What are the full expectations of church participation if we move forward. As examples, it is mentioned that we will share a Pastor and that Cornerstone Village will be a focal point for outreach for our members. How much time will the Pastor be expected to serve there? Are there requirements from the congregation to outreach to those living at the facility? Is there a detailed agreement we can see that further explains these requirements? Have we reached out to other churches that already participate to see what kind of role they fill? 

A  Other than the shared Pastor, I don’t think any of these items have been looked into, but we will follow-up.  I am attaching a position description from one of their communities in WI, I understand that the Pastor devotes approx 8 hrs per week (hence us proposing they cover 20% of our Pastoral expense). The communities website is  https://steepleview.org/  , and the associated church is  https://www.hcl.org/ .


Q  Are there any penalties or anything if we don’t have a pastor for an extended amount of time? Will the pastor requirements fall to members of the congregation? 

A  I think the only downside is that we will continue to be served by an Interim Pastor, which most likely limit our potential for moving forward and growth.


Q  What proportion of the units will be for affordable housing?   

A  This is not yet finalized, but I think they are looking at 20 – 25% adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and 75 – 80% workforce housing or independent seniors.  I don’t know what if any percentage might be subsidized housing.


Q  It seems like we have to be 100% committed in order for Bethesda to put any effort in to their research in to the project. I want to understand correctly that if we vote yes, there is still a chance that the project won’t work out due to affordable housing subsidies, entitlements or the like? 

A  They have stated 100% commitment.  I don’t know if this is a rock solid requirement for the Congregation, or if it just pertains to leadership?  It seems to me there are many hurdles after we agree to sell, and the deal could be cancelled if each hurdle is not overcome.


Q  What happens if zoning changes do not go through? 

A  If any of the hurdles are not met, the deal is cancelled.  They expect that they will know within the first 6 months if cancellation will occur, but they have the entire pprox.. 2 years.


Q  What’s the selection criteria for people wanting to live in the project? 

A  I haven’t seen anything specific, but I assume for disability it will be some type of Govt determination, for subsidized housing it will be income based, and for seniors they say 55+.