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Should We Paint the Exterior of Holy Cross Church

Have you noticed that Holy Cross Church needs painting?

Seriously, there seems to be a bit more chatter about getting the church painted recently, so I think it’s important to consider it.

First, be assured that the appearance of Holy Cross Church is as important to me as to you, in some ways more so because I am responsible. I think you need only look at the rest of the campus to make your judgment.  So if someone suggests to you that I don’t care about how the church looks, or don’t love it as much as they do, or I’m letting the church fall apart, please inform them they are wrong.

Let’s look at few things we’ve done to assure the integrity of the church building since I arrived. A full evaluation of the structure of the church was carried out to determine whether the sagging, cracking and twisting beams and tilting steeple are safe. Termite inspection and treatment was begun. The sound system was upgraded, front doors sanded, painted and re-hung, the sanctuary was refurbished, St. Joseph statue was purchased, one of two air conditioning units was replaced, a  new boiler was installed, a new security monitoring system was installed and the old underground oil tank behind the sacristy was removed.

Our church building project is the truest example of Hofstadter’s Law: Projects take longer than you think, even taking Hofstadter’s Law into account.  So while the peeling of our church has gotten worse and gone on for longer than anticipated, the main reason for not painting the church was and still is the expense and the prudence of spending the money for a cosmetic and temporary fix.

While it is true that a few years ago, painting the church might have sent a signal that the building project was abandoned and we would settle back to worship as usual in a newly painted church, I think most of that sentiment has faded away. Several months ago, the Parish Finance Committee discussed the pros and cons of such an expense without specific estimates in hand.

The estimate we would accept if we went to contract is surprisingly low compared to other bids, approximately $20,000. The high bid was $32,000 for a comparable job. This includes scraping and priming the shingles (as opposed to the easiest prep which is power washing), limited caulking and replacing only structural elements of missing or rotted wood. No decorative elements will be restored and the windows will not be touched.

So, all this considered, should we paint the church?