1st Building.jpg

Why build now?

We believe building a new sanctuary at this time will serve as an inviting and welcoming front door to the community for worship, and will greatly increase our ability to reach people in downtown Memphis who are not currently in worship on Sunday Mornings.

In the Fall of 2013, First Church received two unexpected donations of approximately $1 million each to be used for the rebuilding of the sanctuary. These donations became a catalyst of prayer, discussion, planning, and redesigning that has led us to the vote on January 17 by the church membership to complete the building of the historic sanctuary destroyed in 2006.

Why did we stop building with the frame?

The full project of rebuilding after the fire required a significant amount of demolition including the total reconstruction of the interior of the Pepper Education Building. Even after receiving money from some very generous donors and from insurance, the costs of rebuilding everything far exceeded funds available. The leadership and members of First Church had to make a difficult decision of prioritizing what should be re-built first. We decided to fully re-build and redesign the Pepper Education building with enough space on the second floor to provide a place for at least 150 people to worship. This would allow for all aspects of mission and ministry at First Church to continue. It was also decided to build the steel frame of the sanctuary as a place holder for the future as well as a place for various events and ministries to take place.

What is the plan for beginning construction?

In February of 2017, the people of First Church contracted Chris Woods to start construction on the exterior shell of the sanctuary building. The interior of the sanctuary will be added to the contract as funds are raised to cover the costs. Construction is slated to begin the second week of May 2017.

What will happen to ministries currently using the Outside Sanctuary?

It is vital to not displace our current ministries to the homeless. The Trustees of First Church have decided to close the Alley off Second Street and convert it into an open and welcoming area designed specifically for these ministries.

How much will it cost?

The budget for the full completion of the sanctuary is $4.1 million.  

Sanctuary Exterior                                                                                $1,994,521 

Sanctuary Interior                                                                                  $1,061,698

Furnishing, Fixture, Equipment, Landscaping                                     $   400,000

Install and Repair of Whitehaven Pipe Organ                                     $   250,000

Contingency, Initial Operational Expenses, and Future ministries    $ 400,000

    TOTAL EXPENSES    $4,106,219

How much do we have on hand? 

We have just over $2 million on hand from very generous lead gifts and a prior capital campaign. 

Lead Gifts                                 $1,909,108

Prior Capital Campaign           $ 185,000

    TOTAL FUNDS ON HAND  $2,094,108

How much do we still need?

We need to raise another $2 million in order to complete the construction of the sanctuary as designed. With the funds we currently have on-hand, we will be able to build the outer shell of the building. The remaining $2 million will help us continue past the empty shell to a home for life and worship inside the walls.

Just as the membership decided not to take on any debt for the first phase of rebuilding, we still believe it unwise to take on debt for the remaining construction costs. Build Up is a three-year campaign to raise the remaining $2 million. We are seeking financial commitments over and above our regular giving from everyone in the First Church family.

Now is a dynamic and exciting time in the development of Downtown Memphis. Just as a few individuals almost 200 years ago saw great potential for mission and ministry in the heart of Downtown Memphis, we are seeking out individuals who want to help make sure First UMC is able to continue that work for the next 200 years.

When will commitments be received?

Commitment Sunday is June 4, 2017.

How long is the commitment period?

The commitment period is three years, from June 2017 to June 2020, which covers four tax years.

When do we begin making gifts toward our commitment?

A first fruits offering is planned for Sunday, June 18. On that day, we invite everyone to bring their first gift toward their three-year

commitment. Consider a gift that represents 10% or more of your total commitment. Let’s start strong!

What can my family do to help the campaign succeed?

First, we are asking everyone to pray. Pray for our church to live out our vision of making disciples of Jesus Christ everywhere by impacting our church family, community, and beyond with the gospel. Second, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in increasing your generosity in giving to Build Up. Third, exercise your faith to trust God to enable you to do what He is prompting you to do.

I am already giving to support First. How can I be expected to give more?

Generosity Initiatives rely on church members making gifts “over and above” their current level of giving. The best path to increased giving is the spiritual path, where you set your heart on things above. Financial priorities then take shape from the spiritual priorities. 

Build Up is an over-and-above gifting, which will look different for each person. It may be taking another step toward tithing, or finding a way to prioritize our personal expenses so we can participatein the growth of God’s kingdom.

If a community campaign is planned, why are we doing a campaign in the church? Can’t we just raise all

we need in the community?

Nothing guarantees that we will find financial support outside the walls of First Church, nor should we expect it. It is essential the community sees that we as a congregation are fully committed to the vision of dynamic ministry God is giving us. We would not ask members of our community to make commitments that we as a church have not already made. It’s important our church body be unified and lead the charge as an example to those who may join us in this effort in the future.

Where can I get more information about Build Up?

Call Andy at the Church at 901-527-8362, or visit www.firstchurchmemphis.org/buildup.




Thank you for considering how you can support the BuildUp.  As you probably know, we are seeking support to complete the construction of our sanctuary so that we may be best equipped to BuildUp and increase our Christ-centered community in the heart of Downtown Memphis.  If you need to talk to me in more detail about how you can support BuildUp, please call me at 901.527.8362.

Andy Rambo, Pastor