By SHEILA OJENDYK
GREENVILLE — Father Steven Brovey spied a thousand faces staring at him and remarked, “Who said there are no Catholics in South Carolina?”
After many months of planning, Prince of Peace unveiled a $4 million capital campaign at Greenville’s Palmetto Center on Oct. 29. Every household in the parish received an engraved invitation to the event, and people came dressed in their finest. A string quartet from the Governor’s School for the Arts played softly while parishioners socialized over hors d’ouerves before entering the exhibition hall for dinner and the presentation.
“Nobody likes worshiping in a gymnasium, and since Prince of Peace has outgrown its present church, two of the four weekend Masses are now in the Parish Activity Center. It’s time to build a new church,” Father Brovey, pastor, stated in his introduction.
A building committee was organized in January of this year, and a marketing group spun off from that. The parish of 4,800 people was able to draw upon the talents and expertise of its membership. Finance people calculated dollars, architectural and engineering people studied design possibilities, and marketing people investigated successful building campaigns by other churches. The parish sent a written survey to all parishioners in August asking them what they liked and did not like about their present church building and what they wanted to see in their new church. From these combined efforts, a master plan was developed.
Ronald E. Geyer, architect with Craig Gaulden and Davis Inc., explained the master plan with a slide presentation. Parishioners saw a layout of the parish grounds that incorporated the new church with the existing church, education building, gymnasium, and relocated parking lots. Architectural concerns included visibility, accessibility, image to the public and room for potential expansion.
Geyer emphasized, “Character is critical.” People who returned their surveys stressed the importance of a sense of community and being part of the worship process.
Father Brovey said the new church “needs to be something truly beautiful” to pass on to future generations as a symbol of faith. The new church will be 25,000 square feet in size and will be designed to seat 1,700 people. The conceptual floor plan shows seating around the altar with a central nave and includes ample gathering space, a bride’s room and a crying room. The building will be designed specifically as a church and not as a multipurpose facility like the present church. Parishioners were emphatic about wanting pews and kneelers instead of chairs, as used in the present church. Father Brovey stressed, however, that the conceptual design may need to be changed as the building process evolves.
John Owens, finance manager, reported that Prince of Peace now has to prove to the diocese that it can fund a new church estimated to cost about $6 million. The parish must secure $4 million in pledges above normal budgetary expenses and submit several years of financial records to the diocesan accountants. Funds raised so far are on deposit with the diocese at 4.8 percent interest. The parish would need to borrow $1.5 million from the diocese at an interest rate between 7 and 7.5 percent and would fund the remaining $500,000 from savings and interest accumulations.
The capital campaign will last three years. Parishioners may donate cash, stocks, or gifts in kind. For those choosing to pledge cash, the parish is offering the option of electronic transfer of funds.
Sue Zedek introduced a video created, written and produced for the capital campaign by members of the marketing group. “We decided to make this a home-grown project, and we are very proud of the results,” Zedek said. This video will be used when contacting parishioners who were unable to attend the Palmetto Center event.
If all goes according to plan, parishioners at Prince of Peace will celebrate Christmas of 2002 in their new church.