Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- 1. What are we building?
The goal of the Capital Campaign is to build a new Church Campus on our property on Beach Boulevard. Our new Byzantine Crucifix-form Church will meet the demands of our growing Community by providing a large sanctuary for worship services. Additionally, an administrative/education building along with a banquet hall will provide administrative spaces, kitchen, classrooms, museum, and social area for luncheons and banquets. The campus will also include an airnasium and athletic fields for sporting and outdoor activities and events, including our Greek Festival along with our Easter Picnic.
- 2. Why are we building?
In order to truly understand our parishes’ spiritual journey, we must not forget our beginnings. A debt of gratitude is owed to the founders and previous generations for providing a church, a place of worship and fellowship, that has brought the parish to this point. However, it is now evident that St. John the Divine has currently outgrown the beautiful parish and has reached capacity in its facilities. Our mission is to be united in the love of Christ and aspire to successfully live out the Orthodox faith with reverence and faith, building bridges of understanding and love, with the word of Christ, and sharing Orthodoxy both inside and outside of the four walls of this parish.
With more than 350 families on the rolls, our makeshift Sunday school facilities are bursting at the seams and our Parish Hall is becoming uncomfortably crowded during banquets, luncheons and coffee hours. The sanctuary is increasingly overflowing and parking has become difficult if not hazardous at times. The parish currently boasts 20 active programs for Christians of all ages. Baptisms and Chrismations are steady as families grow and word spreads about the spiritual experience offered by Orthodoxy.
- 3. How did we get here?
The history of St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church dates back to the late 19th century when Greek immigrants began calling Jacksonville “home”. In 1916 a residence was purchased and converted into the first Greek Orthodox Church of Jacksonville. Over the next 90 years, parishioners have worshiped in three different buildings which included a church in the downtown area and our beloved church on Atlantic Boulevard.
In 1959, the Atlantic Boulevard property was purchased and in 1967 construction began. The first liturgy was held in 1968 and since then has been a place of innumerable weddings, baptisms, funerals and the center for the liturgical life of the faithful in the greater Jacksonville area.
As the third oldest Greek Orthodox Church in the state of Florida, St. John the Divine has always centered itself around the Lord’s teachings and being a Holy Sanctuary for families to grow in their spiritual journey with Christ. Through this 90 year journey, the parish has grown to more than 350 families encompassing people from various ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds all sharing a common love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Faith in which we believe.
During the 1990’s, St. John the Divine parishioners began to address the future necessity of a new church campus under the leadership of a long-range planning committee which led to the purchase of approximately 20 acres on Beach Boulevard. This milestone led in to the formation of a group of experienced professionals within our parish who form the Millennium Building Committee. The St. John the Divine General Assembly of May 22, 2005 unanimously approved the selection of Papadatos and Associates of New York as the Master Planner for the new Church project. Through countless hours of meetings and diligent planning, the committee addressed several current challenges and those on the horizon for our growing parish.
The Millennium Building Committee along with the Capital Campaign Committee have utilized the results of a Feasibility Study conducted by Father Constantine Zozos, other parish financial data, Master Plan information, construction costs estimates, and debt service to develop a sound financial plan to recommend the initial building concept whose scope falls within the financial means of the parish. The Building Committee along with the Capital Campaign Committee recommended that the initial building concept include a Church and a Family Life Center. The financial plan along with the recommended building concept was presented and unanimously approved by the Parish Council on March 14, 2011. On April 3, 2011, with the blessings of his Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, a Special General Assembly was held where the community unanimously approved proceeding with launching the Capital Campaign based on the recommended building concept. On August 20, 2017 at a Special General Assembly, the community approved the general lay-out of the Church Campus, authorizing the Building Committee and project team to proceed with design, engineering and construction at a cost not to exceed $13 million. In addition, the Community approved the contract for Sauer Incorporated, the design-build contractor for the new Church Campus.
- 4. What are the benefits to the community from a new Church and Family Life Center?
A new spiritual home in Jacksonville, will be a home that will meet the growing demands of our vibrant community today as well as in the future. Our new Church home will continue to build upon the sure foundations that have been previously built and allow us create new ministries, new programs, new opportunities that aim to bring people closer to Christ and to each other. We want to build a church home that will work towards fulfilling the mandate from Christ when He said, “go forth to ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19).
- 5. When will we occupy the new church?
The schedule for construction for our new Church Campus is scheduled to begin in early 2018. We anticipate that construction will take approximately 1 year. Thus, we hope to occupy the new Church by the end of 2019.
- 6. How much will the new church cost?
The initial construction estimate based on the current conceptual design is $13 million. This cost includes the Church, Administrative/Education Building, Banquet Hall, Airnasium, and parking areas. It does not include interior furnishings such as the Iconostasion and iconography. Arrangements will be made to incorporate the parish’s current icons and altar into the design to connect past, present and future. The $13 million budget reflects the projected affordability of the Community and is supported by a financial business plan/strategy based on the current estimated construction cost and anticipated operational costs of the new Church Campus and projected available funding.
- 7. How will we pay for it?
Construction costs will be met through the pledge commitments and corresponding donations of parishioners during the Capital Campaign, the $2.6 million funds from the sale of an 8 acre portion of the Beach Boulevard property, the anticipated sale of the current Church complex on Atlantic Boulevard, current Building Fund assets, and a bank loan, as needed. The goal of the Capital Campaign Committee is to raise over $5 million for the construction of the Church Campus. The Capital Campaign Committee continues to work actively towards achieving this goal, including a recent $1 Million Matching Fund Campaign.
- 8. What is the plan to raise the money?
In April, 2011, the Capital Campaign Committee, with initial support from Father Constantine Zozos of Parish Stewardship Development Consultants (a fund raising professional), initiated a campaign to raise $4 million. The approach of the campaign utilized was to hold individual meetings with parishioners for the purpose of disseminating information concerning the project, to answer questions, and to discuss their financial contribution to our new Church Campus. Every gift and every prayer was received with profound gratitude. This approach of personal contact allowed for dialogue and the answering of questions. Parishioners were contacted by an Ambassador, Father Nicholas, Father Milton or Father Constantine to set up a meeting. Over time, every person and family in the parish, and beyond, was afforded the opportunity to make his/her own sacrificial gift to the campaign. The goal for the Capital Campaign continues to be to encourage every parishioner of St. John the Divine to be a part of the campaign and to submit a pledge. On August 20, 2017, anonymous donors stepped forward to provide matching funds of up to $500,000 for every new dollar that is collected from this date forward. We are now encouraging everyone to make a pledge or donation as part of this $1 Million Matching Fund Campaign. This will assist us in building God’s home in Jacksonville, Florida and to help continue to spread Orthodoxy and God’s word.
- 9. How may I prepare to participate?
Allow Christ to guide your heart through prayer. Read Scripture passages that speak about giving, such as Corinthians 16:2, Proverbs 11:25, Proverbs 3:5-9, 2 Corinthians 8:1-21, Acts of the Apostles 20:35, the Gospel according to Saint Luke 6:38, and Psalm 116:12-19.
- 10. How long will my commitment be?
The initial Capital Campaign that began in 2011 was based on a financial commitment that can be paid between a three and five year period. The new $1 Million Matching Fund Campaign which was launched in August, 2017, is based on a financial commitment that can be paid now or over a two year period (August 2019). You may pay in equal amounts each year or in increments of your own choosing including full payment in the first year. In addition to cash contributions, other types of contributions options (i.e. transference of title to marketable stocks, bonds, other securities, real estate, etc.) are available for you to consider. Please consult with the Capital Campaign Committee regarding these options.
- 11. If I can’t give a large amount, does my commitment really matter?
Absolutely! All commitments/gifts matter, regardless of amount, because we all participate according to our ability. God appreciates the sacrifice not the quantity (see Luke 21:1-4.) and multiplies our giving through His grace. Our goal is to achieve 100% participation by every parishioner so that everyone can share and rejoice in our collective achievement for the glory of God. No single amount has been determined as the right amount. This project requires sacrifices by all of us. It is our desire and hope that every family pledge/contribute an exemplary gift that falls within their means. The main message of the Campaign is not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.
- 12. Do I have to be a church member to participate in the capital campaign?
No. Participation in the campaign is a personal decision for each and any person who is interested in supporting the Parish of St. John the Divine. Anyone may contribute to God’s work in our church.
- 13. Who will know of my commitment?
All commitments will be kept strictly confidential. Only a few select and trusted persons responsible for managing the Capital Campaign will know, of necessity, in order to tally the commitment total and manage cash flows in payment of commitments during the five year period of the campaign.
- 14. How will gifts be acknowledged, tracked and recognized?
The Capital Campaign Committee are committed to ensure that Campaign is managed professionally. This means timely confirmation letters for pledge commitments, immediate deposit of gifts received and accurate statements to Campaign supporters reporting to them the present state of their pledge. Concerning recognition of gifts, let us remember the teaching and example of Our Lord who praised the Widow who, though she gave a small amount in the eyes of the world, she in fact gave a great amount in the eyes of God because it was a truly sacrificial gift. Every gift to the Campaign will be recognized and appropriately acknowledged.
Those seeking to offer an extraordinary gift for a particular area, space or room within the new Family Life Center or Sanctuary will be uniquely recognized; those selecting Donor Opportunities will be recognized on a plaque set aside within the Family Life Center. Their name, the space selected and the names of those the donation is dedicated for i.e. in honor or in remembrance will be included on the plaque. Per the donor’s choice, each room selected will be given the name of a Saint, and where appropriate the Saint’s icon will be displayed in a niche, with a vigil light. No rooms or space will be named after the donor.
Everyone who calls St. John the Divine their sacred space and spiritual home will be asked to contribute… each according to their ability and capacity. We realize that not everyone is able to participate in a “Donor Opportunity.” By no means do we want to convey that this meaningful and important project is restricted to the capabilities of a few. Thus, all contributions will be recognized in a dignified and meaningful way.