Dear Friends in Christ, April 28, 2020
Some really good news!
I am pleased to announce that as of August 1, Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, a professional Christian ballet company and dance school will begin renting space in our building. They will use our upstairs spaces for classes and rehearsals:
Mondays 3-8 PM
Tuesdays 10AM-8 PM
Wednesdays 3-8 PM
Thursdays 10AM-8 PM
This will bring LIFE, energy, beautiful dancing and families of all kinds into our building (and potentially worship services) and will allow us to build a purposeful relationship of theological imagination with a truly inspiring, love-centered and inclusive Christian non-profit organization. This is a rare opportunity and I feel so lucky that the Holy Spirit brought us together.
Ekklesia is a wonderful ballet company, with an inspired, professional and compassionate leader in artistic director Elisa Schroth. It is heartening that she is as excited to imagine the future here with us as we are delighted to have her. Ekklesia has a stellar reputation (some of you may have seen their Christmas production Ahavah) and they are committed to giving back financially to the under-served in Middletown, just as we are. Our goals and sense of mission substantially reinforce each other. I truly believe that working together will strengthen our church community and missional outreach. Ekklesia has liturgical, theological and artistic ties to Duke University and Wesleyan which will also deepen our relationships with those institutions. Bishops Ian and Laura are thrilled by the possibilities for the wider church in Connecticut to connect with this group in worship and in planned Dance and Dialogue events around issues of public interest such as mental illness, inclusivity, creation care and homelessness. They have indicated that there are financial resources available at the diocesan level for further support. Ekklesia will also pay us $3,000/yearly for the use of the space which will come in handy in these challenging times.
Our upstairs spaces are largely unused during the day. Ekklesia understands, however, that if there is a funeral reception or other special activity during these times (such as the week of the Holiday Fair) the church schedule will take precedence. Ekklesia comes to us from a 15-year close relationship with another church (Living Rock in Killingworth) and they are used to transforming their spaces from dance studios to Sunday school rooms on Saturday evenings. The before and after pictures of dance studios, full of smiling young students in leotards transformed back into Sunday school rooms on a weekly basis is a wonder to behold. Cleaning and maintaining the rooms as shared spaces is a discipline the students are already committed to.
We are working on the schedule of space usage to make sure NA groups can still be supported and use our building. Monday night’s large Miracle on Main group will move to St Vincent de Paul. Tues and Wed groups are smaller and will move to the library or the community room. Thursday night’s group will move to the chapel. Ekklesia supports our commitment to the NA community.
We are looking to raise some money and split the cost of a building supervisor/ sexton between Ekklesia and CHT to ensure the building is safe when it is in use and that only authorized people are in the building at any time. This will benefit both groups.
Ekklesia will lay down a special rubberized floor (that looks like wood) in the Parish Hall so the dancers will have cushioning for jumping. This can withstand any and all church/NA group traffic and is completely removable when they leave.
The Warming Center is currently in flux due to Covid -19. It moved abruptly this March to Green Street and then to a shelter in Meriden. The Mayor of Middletown is involved with Columbus House and St Vincent de Paul in finding a better solution for the Warming Center in this time when we will need to continue to practice social distancing. They do not believe using our building will be a viable option going forward. We will continue to advocate passionately for the homeless in our community as our role evolves. I have been so impressed with the work of St Vincent de Paul and believe if anything, we can work to dovetail even more closely with them on what is needed in Middletown in the challenging times ahead for all of us.
We will reassess our working relationship with Ekklesia in 6 months to see how things are going for both parties.
Ekklesia presented a proposal to Vestry back in March and Elisa met separately with several committees (including Youth Group, Sunday School and Building and Grounds). The vestry is excited to wholeheartedly support this rental relationship. We will be ironing out the all-important details in the weeks ahead.
It is exciting to have this new beginning to look forward to as we continue to sequester ourselves. Ekklesia is up and running, teaching on-line classes (check out their website! https://www.ekklesiaballet.org) and preparing nervously for a big move to a new community. Let us welcome them! I look forward to your feedback.