Frequently Asked Questions

about the campaign

This capital campaign is intended to allow us to complete the transformative project we embarked on more than a decade ago, when The Chapel of the Cross began moving forward with a plan to build a new fellowship hall, to renovate our historic chapel, to add flexible classroom and meeting space, and to overhaul and update important parts of the church’s core infrastructure (e.g., heating and air, and fire and building safety), while improving energy efficiency and providing far greater flexibility to accommodate future program requirements. The project also allowed us to upgrade communications technologies.

While the original impetus for the capital campaign was to repay the money that the church borrowed to execute the above project, a new and increasingly urgent priority began to emerge as the campaign got underway: we recognized that the Kleuker organ, which has served us for the past 40 years, was failing at an accelerating rate and would need to be replaced, rather than repaired – sooner, rather than later. The long lead time associated with finding and installing a suitable replacement organ argued strongly for beginning now to secure the necessary resources to fund this major investment. Accordingly, the capital campaign was reconfigured to encompass the need to buy a new or used replacement organ, while continuing to prioritize the repayment of existing debt.

Why should an organ be placed so high among all the many needs that compete for our attention and our resources? Put simply, our organ and the music it makes possible are at the very heart of our worship life, inspiring us, moving us in ways that words alone cannot, deepening our relationship with God. Our organ also is central to our relationship with our broader community. It is an instrument for nurturing our partnership with UNC, for growing the next generation of leaders in church music, and for bringing artists from around the world to our church to inspire, teach, and create connection. Quite simply, without a functioning organ, we could not fully inhabit part of our mission as a parish.

In addition to procuring a replacement organ, a portion of the proceeds from the capital campaign will be used to repair and renovate parts of our infrastructure that were not addressed by the previous initiative. And, importantly, we will devote a small portion of the capital campaign proceeds, plus an equal amount of resources to be identified in the future, to catalyze and seed new, creative programs that further our mission – an initiative that we hope will lead to the eventual establishment of a special endowment that can support such work in perpetuity.

This capital campaign is the second leg of the fundraising effort that began in 2007. In 2013, when the Vestry decided to take advantage of comparatively low construction costs and interest rates, and begin construction on the new addition, it adopted a financing plan that envisioned a follow-up capital campaign that would begin in 2019—now, in other words. The immediate impetus for this second fundraising leg is the need to refinance a bank loan in mid-2020. In parallel, the accelerating decline of the Kleuker organ and the recognition that it does not warrant repair, means that we must begin now to raise the money necessary to replace it.

The new “addition” has quite simply transformed The Chapel of the Cross. The fellowship hall, which replaced an aging, claustrophobic space that accommodated only 50 parishioners at a time, has been the catalyst of dramatic change for our church family. The spacious hall and kitchen, completed in 2014, is now our family room, dining room, and event space—frequently hosting gatherings of 100, 200 and more. From the pancake supper to the ABC Sale, the addition we built is loved and well-used by our church family and by many community outreach partners .

The new, modern choir room is overflowing with choristers. New classrooms and meeting rooms have multiplied our engagement with the local community. We host dozens of local organizations and events, from the Johnson Service Corps to addiction recovery classes to election voting. With the new facility, the Preschool at The Chapel of the Cross now welcomes children and their families to a safe, beautiful space designed for learning and play. The new facility has delivered important, environmentally-responsible operating efficiencies.

Our revitalized foundation is also enabling our transition to a new generation of leadership, beginning with the recruitment three years ago of The Rev. Elizabeth Marie Melchionna as our rector and, in 2018, The Rev. Noah Van Niel as our associate rector, The Rev. Mary Catherine Young as our associate rector for University Ministry and Dr. Joseph Causby as our music director and organist. Finally, the timing of the decision to build, initiated during the Great Recession and based on years of thoughtful planning, was fortuitous: non-residential construction costs in our community have increased by 25% since 2013, while the cost of borrowing has risen even more.

Financial information

The fundraising target is $4 million—of which approximately $2.2 million will be allocated towards loan interest and principal payments; $1.5 million for the purchase, installation and future routine maintenance of a new or used replacement organ; $100,000 for use in supporting catalytic, generative initiatives for growing and deepening our overall missional impact; and $200,000 to repair and renovate aging parts of the church’s physical infrastructure, while also allowing the church to continue to integrate technology and other means of engaging with parishioners. These financial targets reflect the reconfiguration of the capital campaign in late 2019 to address the need to replace the existing Kleuker organ. The new plan continues to prioritize the repayment of existing debt, but reduces amounts allocated for future capital expenditures and the support of certain programming initiatives.

The previous capital campaign, which began in 2007, raised $7.9 million from more than 500 parishioners. Roughly $7 million of that amount had been paid in when the Vestry decided to proceed with the building expansion project, at an overall cost of $10 million. We used the money then on hand, plus a $3 million loan from a local bank, to build the fellowship hall, new classroom space, and meeting rooms and offices, and to renovate our historic chapel and replace and enhance important parts of the church’s core infrastructure, while improving energy efficiency and providing far greater flexibility to accommodate future program requirements. The project also allowed us to upgrade communications technologies. Completed in 2014, the space has made an enormous difference in the life of our church.

We borrowed $3,020,000, roughly 30% of the $10 million budget for the overall project. The plan for repaying the loan was adopted by the Vestry in 2013 and has the loan being refinanced in 2020 and repaid with proceeds from a second capital campaign. 

We have repaid $900,000 of the loan to date from pledges made to the previous campaign. With proceeds from the current capital campaign, we have reduced the outstanding loan balance to $1.7 million (as of November 30, 2019) and we expect to pay off an additional $200,000 to $400,000 by the end of 2019. As additional pledge payments are received, they will be used, first, to pay loan interest and principal; and second, to pay for the campaign’s three other priorities.

The current loan is a five-and a-half-year, fixed rate term loan, with a due date of July 10, 2020. Proceeds from the capital campaign now underway will allow us to refinance the loan at that time. Our goal is to repay the loan by 2023, or earlier, if feasible.

The interest rate on the current loan is 3.25%. Our original financing plan assumed that interest rates might rise substantially by the time it was necessary to refinance the first loan. That plan assumed that the interest on the replacement loan would be 6.5%. While we won’t know for a while what the actual interest rate will be on the replacement loan, the rate would likely be around 5% if the refinancing were to occur today.

Replacing Our Organ

We have known for some time that the Kleuker organ was failing mechanically. Evaluations in 2018 by two major organbuilders and the curator of organs at Duke University Chapel came to the same conclusion: “The organ needs significant work, if not replacement, to make it serviceable in the future.” Our original plan was to replace the organ’s worn components and make other repairs as necessary to extend its life for another five to eight years, before finding a permanent solution. However, a further assessment conducted in August concluded that that strategy was not practical. A comprehensive rebuilding of the instrument would cost between $700,000 and $1.3 million – assuming we could find a suitable firm willing to perform the work. We have consulted with five of the nation’s top builders and restorers of mechanical action organs, and none have expressed interest in undertaking the project. Finally, the August assessment concluded that rebuilding the Kleuker would leave us with an organ that was still mechanically deficient and musically compromised.

Given these considerations, the Vestry plans to purchase a new or used instrument, rather than repairing or rebuilding the Kleuker, as soon as the necessary funding is secured.

No final decision has been made regarding the budget for a replacement organ. Before that happens, the Vestry will carefully consider the many variables that go into a sound decision – not only the price of the organ, but also the anticipated longevity and cost of maintaining the instrument.

That said, our target is to secure $1.5 million in capital campaign pledges – an amount, if achieved, that will allow for the purchase, installation and future routine maintenance of an organ of comparable, if not higher, quality to that of our rich musical tradition. Based on an assessment conducted for the Vestry in August, at that pledge level we should be able to afford a new or used organ in the $1 million price range, plus the $200,000 to $300,000 of electrical, casework and other expenses that will likely be required in retrofitting our existing space. In addition, this pledge level should allow us to set aside money to pay for annual maintenance checkups, a sort of informal endowment, if you will, to support the routine upkeep of the organ. Because we have assumed that no debt will be incurred in buying an organ, our planning budget does not include any interest costs.

Our target budget – $1 million for the organ, plus installation and ongoing maintenance costs – is on the low end of the range for organs of the size and quality that we are seeking.

How long the Kleuker organ will last is, truly, anybody’s guess. Our organists regularly make adaptations – in their style of playing and even in the music they select to play – to compensate for the compromised condition of the instrument. Even now, parishioners with a keen musical ear may have noticed occasional cyphers (notes that will not stop sounding) and dead notes (intended notes that do not sound at all), and we can expect these deficiencies to become more apparent over time. If we reach the point of outright failure before the Kleuker can be replaced, our plan is to rent an electronic organ.

First, we must raise the funding necessary to buy a replacement organ. While planning for the acquisition of a replacement organ will begin shortly, the plan endorsed by the current Vestry states expressly that no commitment to buy an organ will be made until gifts and pledges adequate to pay for the organ are in hand. That is, we do not plan to borrow money, the repayment of which is dependent upon attracting future pledges.

Once a replacement organ is identified for possible purchase or, in the case of a new instrument, commissioned to be custom built, it would not be uncommon for two or more years to go by before the first hymns are sung with the accompaniment of the organ. Time must be spent evaluating the instrument, negotiating a purchase contract, lining up an expert organ builder to install the instrument, determining, specifying and performing the necessary retrofitting work in our sanctuary, and then installing and testing the instrument in its new home. Retaining the services of the right organ builder/installer is the most unpredictable of these steps – sometimes taking 12 to 18 months – and is, therefore, a big factor affecting the timeline.

Other Campaign Objectives

Approximately $200,000 of capital campaign proceeds will be used to pay for repairs and renovations to aging spaces within our physical plant and to further invest in technology that facilitates more effective communication and promotes greater administrative efficiency.  Items in need of repair, renovation or replacement include the sanctuary windows, Yates wing bathrooms, and the chapel pews and flooring. The Vestry will determine how these needs are prioritized. Once the money is raised, some of the needed work will be performed right away, while other expenditures will be spread over the next few years.

Your contribution to the capital campaign will help strengthen the church’s ability to address ongoing capital expenditures and repairs. Our long-term loan repayment plan includes an annual contribution from the operating budget. When the loan is fully repaid, the Vestry will be able to re-direct funds previously directed to debt service to a capital maintenance fund. This plan will substantially increase the budget for maintaining our facility, including areas of our building that are more than a century old.

This prong of the capital campaign is intended to extend the opportunities for sharing our faith and ministering in the community, by serving as a spark—a fiery light—that can turn promising ideas into self-sustaining realities. We’ve done this throughout our history. A good example is the Johnson Service Corps, which was created by The Chapel of the Cross through a generous bequest by a long-time parishioner. In 2019 the Johnson Service Corps welcomed its twentieth annual class of young-adult servant leaders, who participate together in a year of social justice engagement, intentional community living, servant leadership training, and spiritual formation.

The framework for deciding exactly what types of initiatives we will seek to catalyze will be developed in parallel with our fundraising efforts. However, exciting possibilities are already percolating. For example, a natural extension of both our rich musical tradition and our role in fostering servant leadership would be to fund a music-centered training program that would invite the community into the parish and allow us to collaborate with the University in cultivating student leaders. That’s just one idea. The Vestry would love to hear your ideas.

The reconfigured capital campaign will continue to support these objectives, but through annual expenditures rather than from endowment income (as we originally intended). Through proceeds from the capital campaign, we plan to fund such programmatic initiatives at the rate of approximately $20,000 for a five-year period. Thereafter, through future bequests and other dedicated gifts, we hope to create the originally-envisioned special endowment for the ongoing support of these programmatic objectives.

More information

Annual Campaign

  • A pledge made on an annual basis
  • Funds are used to continue the daily operations and effectiveness of the church and its mission
  • The request is for a sustaining amount

Capital Campaign

  • Involves a multi-year payment period (typically three to four years)
  • Funds directed to a specific and predetermined area or areas of focus for the long- term benefit of the institution
  • The ask is usually greater than an individual or family’s annual contribution
  • The commitment is often paid for out of one’s investments or other assets

Annual Campaign

Our annual campaign is conducted once each year, over several months beginning in September. The church’s leadership calls on each and every member of our parish to ask for their financial support over the coming year. Annual fund pledges are the primary vehicle for funding the church’s operating needs. Annual fund pledges account for ~83% of our overall operating budget, which covers salaries for our clergy and staff and expenses such as utility bills and maintenance expenses.  Pledges to the annual fund ensure we can continue to provide essential programs and services in the year ahead. Note: Because an annual pledge relates to the church’s budgetary needs over the next 12 months, donors often pay for it out of their annual income.

Capital Campaign

The “You are the Light” Campaign supports larger needs and objectives that cannot be funded within our annual operating budget.  With the proceeds from this important initiative, The Chapel of the Cross plans to retire the debt we incurred when we built the new Parish Hall and expanded the rest of our facility in 2014; purchase, install and fund the routine maintenance of a new or used replacement organ; complete other needed capital expenditures and renovations; and support creative/ innovative future programming.  Pledges to the capital campaign are generally paid in in over a three to four- year period.  Such donations are typically paid out of one’s investments or other assets, rather than out of one’s income.

Planned Giving – Bequests and Deferred Gifts

Since its inception, The Chapel of the Cross has been buoyed by visionary leadership, by people who could see beyond the present, to imagine how the church could grow its mission well beyond our original, small chapel.

William Mercer Green, whom we think of as our “founding priest,” was the first of those visionary leaders.  To honor him and his vision, The Chapel of the Cross established the William Mercer Green Society to recognize those who have made planned gifts to the church, as well as to educate those who are interested in supporting COTC ministries in perpetuity.

If you have already included The Chapel of the Cross in your will or estate planning, welcome to the William Mercer Green Society! Please contact Faith Turchi, Parish Administrator and Stewardship Manager, 919-442-2566, fturchi@thechapelofthecross.org, for more information or to make additional arrangements in a confidential setting. While it’s not essential that you let the church know about your intentions to leave a bequest, that information is valuable for our long-term planning purposes.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.  — Matthew 5:14-16

We named this campaign “You Are the Light” to honor the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus compels us to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us and through our good works to give glory to God.

In the last capital campaign, more than 500 parish families gave $7.9 million to support the expansion and renovation of the church – a project that cost $10 million. Now it is our turn to finish what was started and create a lasting foundation for future generations in our parish. Our needs at this moment total $4 million.

We understand that every member of our church has different financial circumstances. Some of you may be able to consider gifts of $50,000, $100,000, $250,000, or even $500,000, while others may consider making gifts that are three times your annual pledge. All gifts—irrespective of size—make a difference.

Will you make a gift that is meaningful to you? Will you give more than you gave last time? Will you make a stretch gift? Will you give with joy, and give glory to your Father in heaven? As you consider your gift, please pray about how this gift will help you declare Jesus’ name and then see where He leads you.

You may make a pledge by clicking the Pledge link on www.youarethelightcotc.org or by contacting the Parish Administrator and Stewardship Manager, Faith Turchi, at fturchi@thechapelofthecross.org or 919-442-2566. 

As you consider a pledge to the capital campaign, please also consider including The Chapel of the Cross in your estate plan. Several of the largest gifts to the previous capital campaign came from parishioners who accelerated their planned gifts, so the church could move forward with construction at a time when both interest rates and construction costs were highly favorable.

Other ways to give include gifts of appreciated stock, which may positively impact your taxes. You may also want to give quarterly using a credit card that provides you with points and other perks.

Please think of your pledge over a three-year period. Every pledge dollar received is valuable, but payments that are made sooner are extremely valuable—because money used to reduce the bank debt now has the added benefit of reducing the amount of interest that must be paid on that debt.

All parishioners, including those who pledged to the capital campaign before it was expanded to pay for a replacement organ, are encouraged to give as generously as you can to help us address this important need.

Even if you have already given, we hope you will feel inspired to give still more – to help make a new organ a reality. The organ is at the center of our worship life. It, along with the human voice, is among the most important means with which we praise God. It also serves as an evangelical tool. As a teaching instrument, it is means of nurturing and growing our partnership with UNC and training the next generation of leaders in the field of church music; and it is a concert instrument, serving as a platform for bringing world famous artists into our space, where concerts and other musical programs bring in and inspire the wider community.

You Are the Light,” the name of the capital campaign, is taken from the Sermon of the Mount, where Jesus preaches: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) “You Are the Light” is intended as an extension of the years-long journey that resulted in the dedication of the addition to The Chapel of the Cross in October 2014. That undertaking was called the “Light on the Hill” capital campaign. It called upon us to provide the financial resources necessary for The Chapel of the Cross to continue to be a shining light upon a hill, in the service of God. The theme of the new campaign reinforces this same imperative, emphasizing the personal role that each of us plays in carrying out the mission of the church.

The expansion of the capital campaign to encompass the purchase of a replacement organ means that the campaign will likely extend beyond mid-2020, when we originally had hoped to conclude all fundraising. The sooner we fulfill the fundraising opportunity before us, the sooner we will be able to move forward with a replacement organ for our music program and our mission.

Read the full Case Statement >>

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