Update to Society June 2021

Update on the Building Project

At the Annual Meeting last April, Pastor Carswell stated that the Building Committee, which had been in hibernation since March 2020, had begun meeting again.

Our pre-COVID plan was to do both a partial rebuild of the current school and to address an estimated $8M in deferred maintenance. In general, this pre-COVID plan would have helped solve many of the infrastructure and logistical needs of the school and church in our current buildings. While the partial rebuild plan represented an effort to retain the more useable portions of the current buildings, we were aware of a number of inherent problems with the plan: prolonged school year disruptions (up to four school years), continued use of some structures deemed to be of “moderate” value (and perhaps had already outlived their useful lives), and limited options for improving the mechanical operations of the oldest sections of the complex.

Our exit from hibernation has received energy from potential donors encouraging us to consider a more substantial building project that will help us meet all of the needs of the school and church society now and for many generations to come. We are thus challenging ourselves to consider what layout will best support the uses of the Bryn Athyn Church School, the Pastoral Staff Offices, and the Society for the next century.
One of the options that we are seriously considering is the possibility of building an all-new school and Society-use complex. This new building would be built on the athletic fields to the east of the parking lot outside the current Society Building. Construction on that site would allow for the current school and society buildings to continue functioning with minimal disruption until the new buildings were ready.

We understand that the new building project we are thinking of could impact BATS in a number of ways. Because of this, we have started and will continue to have conversations with a representative from the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop to discuss how this would impact their operation. We fully expect and hope that BATS will remain on this campus, but our building plans would likely necessitate finding an alternative site for the Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop at least during the construction period.

We also heard loud and clear the support many of you expressed for retaining the original school buildings from the 1950s. We are starting to consider ways to both re-create and even possibly reuse the best parts of these buildings. This is important.

We imagine that these ideas raise questions in many people’s minds. We are still at a stage in the process when there are more questions than answers, but we look forward to having more information for you later this summer.
The current building committee is quite willing to hear your comments or questions and will share them with the rest of the committee. It is chaired by Reuben Mergen, a parent and Bryn Athyn Church board member. The other committee members are:

  • Darrel Allen (parent)
  • Daryl Baker (parent)
  • Emily Posey (parent)
  • Aline Brown (teacher)
  • Brita Conroy (teacher)
  • Phil Feerrar (former teacher)
  • Eric Carswell (pastor)
  • Greg Henderson (Principal)
  • Amie Leighton (our building consultant)