Building Project Updates


On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, Bryn Athyn Church held its Annual Society Meeting. There were lots of items to report on at the meeting. Jim Adams reported on the progress of the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop and the new Church & School Building. Things are surely coming along on both construction sites!
BATS has a few more projects to be completed before the final punch list and preparation for opening and the school building is scheduled to be ready for move-in early summer of 2025.


Bryn Athyn Church School & Society Building
On March 28, BACS students and staff participated in a "topping out" ceremony orchestrated by our construction company, Whiting-Turner. Our students, faculty, and staff signed the beams placed during the ceremony. (Serena Sutton, Photo credits)
Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop
Exactly one year ago yesterday, April 1, was the last day that BATS was open to shoppers in the beloved old barn. Amazing! Much has happened since then including, among other things: setting aside some pieces of the barn and decor to be reinstalled in the new barn and dismantling of the old barn, as well as amazing progress in the construction of our new barn on Buck Rd.
As the attached pictures show, the new barn is lovely and well along the path of construction, more so than many people had expected, based on the comments that have been shared. We do not have an opening date yet, but it does seem realistic to think that we will open in the fall. We can’t wait!
Since closing last year, we have had several days of taking donations as well as two “pop-up sales” in the BACS gym, most recently on March 16. BATS was open for business for 6 hours and made $7,073 in that short amount of time on the sale of jewelry, clothing, décor, household items, some books, hardware, and various other items. There were so very many happy customers and workers!
We don’t see having more pop-up sales before reopening but we will have more donation days (not yet scheduled) so that we will be able to stock BATS for our reopening and for our returning and new customers.
Stay tuned! You will be updated along the way. ~ Brenna Synnestvedt, BATS Manager


Bryn Athyn Church School & Society Building
Parts of the building became vertical last week!  The church office, kitchen, and Heilman Hall structures are up and the majority of the gym framing is up. Foundation work for the entire site is scheduled to be completed by the end of this week (weather permitting). Work is continuing on waterproofing and backfilling the foundation walls.

Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop
Major work has been completed on the BATS site! The building is up with windows installed and the majority of the standing seam roof is in place. The underground water filtration pit for the parking lot was installed last weekend. Interior framing is well underway and the electrical and plumbing rough-in is in process. Once the exterior framing for the covered drop-off area is complete, installation of the siding will begin.


We are thrilled to share the exciting progress unfolding in our mission to create vibrant and welcoming spaces for our Elementary School, Church Office, Society Building, and Thrift Shop.

Since our last update in October, significant reshaping of the landscape has been occurring at the building site. In November, preliminary grading of the site was finished. Since then, foundation walls have began taking form, involving a process of excavating for the concrete footers, installing anchor pins, and waterproofing.

Because of unfavorable weather conditions, including snow and rain, the construction team has encountered some lost workdays. Additional challenges, such as site cleanup and waterlogged soil, have impacted the schedule, leading to a slight delay in the arrival of steel beams. Undeterred by these obstacles, the team remains resilient and is actively seeking opportunities to recoup lost days in the overall timeline. Fortunately, through strategic planning and collaborative efforts, they have managed to mitigate these challenges. The steel beams are now scheduled to begin arriving this week. We appreciate your continued support and understanding as we navigate these intricacies on our journey to create spaces that will serve our community for years to come.

The new Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop is also taking shape and we expect to reopen in late fall 2024. The BATS employees continue to work hard and have been holding occasional donation events at the Society Building. A pop-up sale is planned for March 16, 2024.

Thank you to all who have helped make this exciting building project possible.

Warm regards,
Derek Elphick, Head Pastor


I am delighted to share the news that our NPDES permit from the Montgomery County Conservation District was granted which means we’ve been given the green light to start construction. Please tune in to the live stream video of the construction site to watch progress in real time. - Derek Elphick, Head Pastor


HOORAY! All the steps required to begin the actual construction of the new BATS barn have been completed! The hands-on work is now beginning with surveying and putting stakes in the ground.  We will soon see the traditional split rail fence going up around the circumference of the whole site. We’ll get to see heavy equipment. In other words, IT'S HAPPENING. Many thanks to those who have brought us this far. - Brenna Synnestvedt, BATS Manager


Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop:
The hope is to receive final permits by October 4. Once these are received, building can begin. The new building will take about a year to build and an additional month to move in retail items. The goal is to be open for Christmas 2024.
The new building will have 6,000 square feet of retail space and 2,800 square feet in processing on the ground floor. There will be an additional 2,800 square feet on the 2nd floor also for processing donations. There will be a paved driveway entrance and a stone parking lot to give the look of a farm. Lights on the building will be turned off at night to reduce light pollution to the neighborhood. The entire property will be surrounded by a split rail fence and the driveway entrance will have farm gates to secure the property at night.
A lot of time was spent with the committee and architects to preserve wood from the original BATS building. We are happy to say that some of the original barn wood will be reused in the new building. We will be “bringing the old into the new,” as Jim Adams stated at this week's Semi-Annual Society Meeting.
Bryn Athyn Church School Building:
We have been anxiously awaiting the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit. Once this permit is received, actual earth moving construction can begin.
In the meantime, Whiting Turner staff has established a presence on site and have been busy coordinating underground utilities as well as planning and ordering materials for the project that have long supply chain lead times.
As you may have seen, the construction fence around the site has been installed. Additional viewing windows into the construction area are in progress and will provide the opportunity to peek into the work site from a few key vantage points. We are also working on the installation of a webcam to get a higher elevation view into the site and will make that available to the community on the Bryn Athyn Church & School websites.
Once construction begins, it is estimated that it will take two years to complete. We are looking to Summer 2025 for project completion.


We have good news! The Guaranteed Maximum Pricing (GMP) from Whiting-Turner came in lower than expected, so the project is under budget, and we can confidently move into construction knowing that we have a cushion for the unexpected. This is in part due to prices dropping, as well as what the successful bidders determined their costs to be. We are excited to be able to use the remaining funds that were so generously donated to create a fund to ensure financial resources are in place to properly care for this gift into the future.
The NPDES permit we applied for has not been granted to us just yet. The engineer is working to address their review comments as quickly as possible, and we will continue to do what we can to expedite the approval. While the construction schedule will undoubtedly be affected, we did have buffer time built into the planned completion dates and have already begun brainstorming construction strategies to recover some (and hopefully most) of the current delay.
Fortunately, all the preliminary work to prepare the site can be done without the NPDES permit. The construction fencing will go up this week. Other developments include the WT trailers having power and water, and their staff now being present on site. Weekly meetings will shift from design-based to construction-based and the project manager, Alyssa, and Kiri Rogers will have daily meetings during the school year to discuss progress, and any potential challenges or concerns affecting school operations.
We are still waiting on permits in order for the BATS project to progress to the next step. The permits, especially the sewer module permit, typically have a longer than usual approval process. Once they are received, the building will begin!


There is much activity on site to prepare for construction. The site preparation required the removal of a fair number of trees on the property. Though this is unfortunate, there are plans for planting many new trees during the landscaping part of the project.

The area is closed to pedestrian and driving traffic as this is an active constructive site. Please avoid the access road to BATS when walking to the Swim Club, Scout Building, and athletic fields.

The BEARS playground has been moved to its new location for the next two academic years. It is currently closed until it can be properly secured.

We await the approval of our National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit through Montgomery County, which will allow the construction to move forward in earnest.

For more information or if you have a questions, visit our building webpage or please feel free to contact the Building Committee at


A Message from Head Pastor, Rev. Derek Elphick:

Dear Members and Friends of Bryn Athyn Church,

We are pleased to share that we have received conditional approval for our building project. We still need to finalize additional details and will continue to work with various Borough departments throughout the project. The land approval process with the Borough is complete.  We are now awaiting the approval of our NPDES permit application from the Montgomery County Conservation District. The thrift shop has also received approval from the Borough and is waiting on obtaining all of the permits before construction can begin.

Whiting-Turner (the construction manager) will be placing their construction trailers on site, starting Friday, June 9th, at 1:00 pm, following the conclusion of graduation. Construction fencing will be going up and they will begin prepping the site for construction.  The “new” wooden playground, behind the gym, will be moved outside of the fenced area so that it is still accessible during construction.

For more information visit our building webpage or to discuss any part of this process, please feel free to reach out and contact a member of the Building Committee or send an email to


A Message from Head Pastor, Rev. Derek Elphick:

Dear Members and Friends of Bryn Athyn Church,

During the last few months, the committee has been working with Metcalfe on several different details of the new building. Some of these include the kitchen plans and layout, Heilman Hall stage design and A/V systems, and behind-the-scenes mechanical systems. Outside consulting firms have been assisting with some of these processes. Some of the most important meetings focused on security inside and outside the new building. Topics discussed during these meetings included where doorways should be placed to make sure that certain sections of the school can be locked and isolated when activities are happening in Heilman Hall and what type of outside lighting should be installed to gently accent the new building while helping to deter “unwanted visitors” from hanging around at night.

One large site plan detail that was recently worked out was the layout of the new sports fields. This process proved to be difficult based on the fact the fields have to fit between rigid “fixtures” on all sides. These include ANC's lower field, parking lots, wetlands, and the new building itself. It took a lot of thinking but fortunately, a plan was worked out that we are all very happy with.

In late January, Metcalfe released the "50% Construction Documentation" drawings. These drawings, and the associated specification booklet, detail how the new building will actually get built when the time comes. Even though they are listed as only 50% complete, most details are in there. Of course, there is still a lot of refinement needed before being ready for construction. And let us tell you, there is a huge amount of information included in these drawings - 230 sheets of drawings and 1,498 pages of written specifications! We have all been reviewing them to the best of our ability and providing feedback to Amie Leighton who then forwards this to Metcalfe.

Amie continues to be a wonderful and essential part of our team. She makes sure we are paying attention to all of the important things and helps us understand all of the "inside jargon." She has been holding weekly meetings with the *Steering Committee to make sure we are keeping an eye on everything and staying on schedule.

Below is a list of scheduled events that everyone can expect in the near future. One important thing to note is that the permitting process has begun but we have not gotten any approvals yet. Because we have not gotten permit approvals yet, these dates are still subject to change. Rest assured; everyone is pushing hard to stay on schedule!

  • April 1 - last day of shopping at BATS
  • May 8 - Barn dismantling, completed end of May
  • Early April – 100% of drawings are complete
  • Late May – Permit approvals
  • Late May - Partial parking lot and playground to be fenced off with reduced accessibility
  • Late May - Whiting Turner Mobilization. This is when they will “move in” and start prepping the site for construction (5/31)
  • Early June – Construction perimeter fence goes up (6/7)
  • Mid June – Demo of the remainder of BATS foundation (6/21)
  • Late June – Site grading begins (6/27)
  • Early Aug – Begin laying out foundations

Hopefully, this update gives you a better understanding of what is happening with the building project and where we are in the process. If you want more information or would like to discuss any part of this process, please feel free to reach out and contact a member of the Building Committee or send an email to

We would also like to thank Eric Carswell for his work on this committee who recently stepped down after accepting the role of Interim President of Bryn Athyn College.

Respectfully Submitted,

*Reuben Mergen - Committee Chair, Board member
*Amie Leighton - Owners RepChris Carter - Owners Rep (Construction)
*Rev. Derek Elphick - Pastor
*Kiri Rogers - BACS Principal
*Stewart Asplundh - Treasurer
*Reed Asplundh - Asplundh Foundation Representative
Darrell Allen - BACS parent, Board member
Aline Brown - BACS teacher
Brita Conroy - BACS teacher
*Phil Feerar - Community Member, Former BACS teacher
Kirsten Huff - BACS Vice-Principal
Emily Posey - BACS parent, Interior Designer

* Steering Committee Member


A letter from Brenna Synnestvedt, manager of the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop:

In connection with the Bryn Athyn Church School building project, BATS will be temporarily closing for a number of months (unknown number at this point) and then reopening in a newly built barn in the field near the intersection of Buck Rd and Byberry Rd. The last day for shopping will be Saturday, April 1.
The current BATS barn will be dismantled to make way for the new school. This dismantling will begin the week of May 8 and will be completed by the end of May.
Fortunately, BATS will be able to install some of the current barn elements, such as some wall boards, floorboards and beams, into the new barn as decorative elements. Many of the current decorative items (posters, antique farm implements, artful and unique repurposed items, etc.) will be brought forward and displayed in the new barn. There are a number of BATS artifacts that are now for sale. They will be sold on a first come first serve basis, sorry but we can’t hold any of these items.
We will stop taking donations prior to the April 1 closing, but we do not have a date yet. We encourage you to get your donations in sooner rather than later.
Various options on how to keep a scaled down version of BATS functioning during the interim are being considered. All the wonderful and helpful volunteers will not be able to stay engaged during the interim, however getting going in the new venue isn’t TOO far down the road.
Hard and sad as it will be to leave the current barn and have it taken down, the next chapter for BATS will be exciting. All retail spaces will be on the ground level, there will be a public restroom, and it will be climate controlled. People handling donations outside will no longer be in boiling or freezing temperatures.
The timeline for building and welcoming you into the new barn is not yet known but it will be months, not years!
The new BATS will be a fun place to shop and will come to be a pleasant refuge for all.
You will be kept up to date as plans develop. Stay tuned.



During the society meeting on September 28, Stewart Asplundh and Reuben Mergen gave updates on the building project. Stewart thanked the Capital Campaign Committee for a successful campaign. He reported on the initial schematic design budget and the updated project cost. Initially, the project estimate was approximately $69M, the fundraising estimates were $67M in major donations and $2.5M in society fundraising. In May the building committee received new cost estimates for the design at that time. These estimates came in significantly over budget, so changes were made to bring the project cost to $84M. Fortunately we were able to raise additional funds to meet the new project cost, with total fundraising at $84.9M.

Reuben thanked the Building Committee for their time and commitment to the project and promised an announcement of the names of those on sub-committees such as, exterior finishes, outside spaces, mechanicals, kitchen, and New Church Iconography. A list of the committee members can be found here. He also walked us through new images of what we might expect our building to look like. Those images can be found here.

The design development phase of the project is nearly complete, and Metcalfe is starting on the construction documentation phase. The hope is to break ground in the summer of 2023 and move into the new building over the summer of 2025.

Questions and answers from the presentation can be found here.


Dear Members and Friends,
Below is an update on the building project as it currently stands, written by Reuben Mergen, chair of the Building Committee.
Back in May, Metcalfe (the architects) finished the second of the three phases of the Design Development. This process is where all of the internal and external functions of the building get figured out and the building design comes together to reflect a completely functional building. The completion of design development is also when another full cost estimate is normally done.

Metcalfe’s consultants and Whiting Turner (the construction manager) have provided their cost estimates. Unfortunately, the estimates came back significantly over budget. While this was very disappointing news, it was not a complete surprise. The primary reason for being over budget appears to be a combination of supply chain disruptions, inflation, and overall economic conditions. The committee immediately went into a process called Value Engineering (VE). This process involved working on curtailing costs through selective redesign and selecting alternate building materials. The committee decided, prior to beginning this process, not to compromise on the student experience and any changes made should focus on other aspects of the design.

To reduce the cost estimate, two significant changes were made to the design. The first is removing the auditorium. Since we currently do not have an auditorium, it seemed logical to do this as it makes up a big portion of the estimated cost. The design for Heilman Hall will be reconfigured to include a stage. The second change is switching from a geothermal system and opting for a traditional HVAC system, which costs much less than installing a geothermal system.

Other changes made include the removal of the basement and re-allocating the storage space to the main floor, opting for lower cost exterior building materials, relocating some mechanical equipment, overall site plan features, and alterations to interior finishes and lighting options.

Based on our current timeline, these developments have set us back about three months.

While Value Engineering is overall a good thing, it definitely has been a difficult challenge for the Building Committee and has made us all a little sad to see some of the features being altered/removed in order to stay within budget. In spite of the sadness, we are still excited about the building design! We are confident that the new school/Society Building will be a dramatic improvement over the current building.

Please feel free to reach out to me, or to any of the committee members listed below if you have any questions or comments.

Another building project update will be presented at the next Society meeting in September.

Respectfully submitted,
Reuben Mergen (Committee Chair)

Committee Members:
Rev. Derek Elphick
Kiri Rogers
Kirsten Huff
Phil Feerrar
Stewart Asplundh
Emily Posey
Aline Brown
Brita Conroy
Daryl Allen


Thank you to all who are supporting our fund-raising efforts for the “Building for Community” project. Because of the many donations and pledges we have received; we are happy to announce we have met our $2.5 million goal. We are grateful to all who are contributing, especially the 116 BACS students who raised $3,519.60 by saving coins in their little red school banks. We feel blessed to have so many people wanting to be a part of this exciting project where every gift truly makes a difference.

As the Building Committee moves towards the final design, they are working with the architects and construction manager on cost estimating to keep the project on budget.

The proposed new thrift shop location, near Buck Rd. and Byberry Rd., was approved by the Bryn Athyn Zoning Board in late May. The building and site plans are being finalized prior to applying for the necessary building permits. BATS customers, many of whom are not otherwise connected to the Bryn Athyn community, are learning about the project and are enthusiastic about the new barn. Pamphlets describing the project, along with donation jars, are at the checkouts to invite support.

We continue to welcome contributions for the “Building for Community” project. Any excess funds collected will be put into endowment for the school and upkeep of the building. We thank you, again, for thoughtfully considering your contribution to this project.

With much appreciation,

Derek Elphick, Head Pastor


To Members and Friends of Bryn Athyn Church,
Last night we received approval from the Bryn Athyn Borough Zoning Board to build a new Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop barn in a fenced in and gated two-acre section of Academy property near Buck and Byberry Roads (the entrance will be approximately 150 feet north of the Woodward Drive entrance to Pine Run Park). This is great news for Bryn Athyn Church because a beautiful new, rural location has been secured for BATS to continue serving the community. I would like to thank the Academy leadership for working so hard to make this dream become a reality. Plans can now proceed to finalize the design of the new barn, prepare the site and begin construction.

Derek Elphick, Head Pastor

3-31-22 Update

Recent work on the building project has been focused on site planning. This is in preparation for submitting plans to the county and borough in order to acquire the necessary permits. We have also begun a dialogue with the borough council in order to keep them updated with our project along the way. Our focus is now beginning to shift to refining the interior design of the building. This phase will include additional meetings, which are happening this week, between the architects and various users. We have also been working on interior plans for the school’s auditorium. There is a subcommittee focused on this unique space who has been meeting with the architects and representatives from Theatre Projects Consultants.
The committee for BATS continues to work with their architects on plans for the new barn. Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop currently uses four outbuildings, two of which are tents, for sorting and storing donations. Pending Borough approval, our plan is to build a red, barn-like structure encompassing the retail store, a covered donation drop-off area, and space for sorting and storage. All areas will be temperature controlled and easily accessible for shoppers. The entrance will be off Buck Road, set slightly up from Woodward Drive towards Byberry Road. The overall look and feel of the building will blend in comfortably with the surrounding farmland. (The images shown are subject to change.)
Our committees are working hard on plans to bring the new school, church, and thrift shop building to life. We are pleased to announce that we have raised $1,897,018 of our $2.5M goal. This is tremendous progress and we still need your support. Donations of any amount make a difference and are truly appreciated.

2-8-22 Update

We are continuing to make progress preparing for our future building project. Several subcommittees are beginning to take shape to work on specific aspects of the project. These include the society kitchen, auditorium and outdoor spaces, exterior finishes, mechanicals, and the New Church iconography. We are also excited to have added community member and engineer, Chris Carter, to our team as the owner’s representative for construction.
Updates have also been made to the building plan itself. It has been determined that the auditorium will be a guaranteed part of the building project which has led to further consideration of the layout of the Bryn Athyn Church wing. This has allowed for a reshuffling of spaces in that wing giving it an improved layout. Recent meetings between architects and teachers have also led to adjustments to the layout of the classroom wings including addressing bathrooms, storage areas, and classroom sizes. A map of the updated design can be found at
If you have questions or comments about this project please feel free to reach out to the Building Committee at

1-20-22 Update

Our “Building For the Community” committees have been hard at work and I am happy to report on their progress. I would like to express my appreciation to these committees for their ongoing planning and their useful collaboration with teachers and staff.
The Building Committee is currently in the design development phase and is working with our architects to finalize the building footprint. This task includes determining the ultimate layout and square footage of our new spaces. The next step involves designing specific areas. The Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop committee is in the design development phase, as well, finalizing the building footprint for the new barn. Once this phase is complete, plans will be presented to the Bryn Athyn Borough to obtain zoning and building permits.
The Capital Campaign Committee is pleased with the progress made so far in raising funds for this building project. The barometer reflects just how busy the end-of-year giving season has been. Although we are 70% to goal in fundraising, we still need additional donations and commitments totaling over $749,000 before construction begins this fall.
Your support, in any amount, will bring us closer to reaching our $2.5M funding goal and enable us to move forward. Click here to make a contribution or to set up a recurring gift.

Derek Elphick, Head Pastor

BATS Announcement 11/16/21

I’m pleased to announce a proposed new location for Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop, pending approval from the Bryn Athyn Borough Zoning Board. The proposed new location will be a fenced in and gated two-acre section of Academy property near Buck and Byberry Roads (across from Pine Run Park). Bryn Athyn Church and BATS leadership have been working with the Academy administration for several months to see if this location is a viable option. Various Academy committees and trustees have given their strong approval to move forward with this project.

Please see the aerial photograph below which identifies the proposed new location for BATS. We still have work to do to make this a reality and are hopeful that we will be able to obtain the necessary final approvals. As you may recall from our recent society meeting which approved the new building project, we have the necessary funds to build a new barn-like building for BATS on this property, again pending final approval from the Bryn Athyn Borough Zoning Board.

At this time, and on behalf of a grateful Bryn Athyn Church community, I’d like to thank the Academy leadership for their enthusiastic support of this project and for offering a beautiful new, rural location for the future home of BATS.

Derek Elphick, Head Pastor

Previous Updates