St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church

I wrote and designed a capital campaign case statement, with supporting campaign logo and stationery design, to help St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, address structural problems in its worship space.

Capital Campaign Case Statement

St. Mary of the Hills campaign case statement

Capital Campaign Case Statement

The Stones Will Sing

A Capital Campaign for St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church

An Active Parish with a Contemplative Heart

For nearly 100 years, St. Mary of the Hills has served residents, vacationers and visitors seeking an authentic Anglican worship experience in downtown Blowing Rock. Part of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Western North Carolina, ours is an active parish with a contemplative heart. We balance a strong emphasis on outreach, mission and service with a deep commitment to prayer, study and worship. 

Our church was built in 1918 and dedicated in 1921—the same year the four bells were hung in our bell tower. Stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ were installed in 1977, 1990 and 1993. We completed an addition to our original building in 1994 and added a second floor over our Parish Hall in 2000. 

Currently, our parish serves as the home church for approximately 150 year-round area residents. During the summer, we serve an additional 100 seasonal residents as well as numerous visitors in town to enjoy our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain setting.  The Reverend Richard Lawler has served as our rector since 1995.

Our Music Ministry

The music ministry at St. Mary of the Hills has always been essential to our worship services as well as community outreach. The St. Mary’s Choir, with 20 to 24 singers, is recognized throughout the region as truly  extraordinary.

Two years ago, our rector commissioned a committee to evaluate our church organ, which had long been showing signs of decay. Expert consultants the committee engaged advised that the aging instrument, well-used over many years, could fail at any time. Clearly, we needed a new organ.

After soliciting and evaluating proposals from a number of pipe organ builders, the committee selected Lively-Fulcher Organ Builders of Rocky Mount, Virginia, to design and build a new pipe organ expressly for our church. 

Lively-Fulcher organs are well known for producing the rich, warm tones appropriate for accompanying congregational hymn singing while performing equally well as solo instruments. The organ they proposed to build for St. Mary’s clearly surpassed those of other vendors, particularly in terms of tonal specifications.

Providentially, two generous parishioners have already stepped forward, offering gifts sufficient to fund the purchase of the new organ. Design and preliminary construction of the instrument are underway.

In evaluating the worship space where our new organ is to be installed, consultants conducting an acoustical study recommended strengthening, hardening and insulating the interior walls and floor to improve the sound of instrumental and vocal music as well as the spoken word.  Unexpectedly, their examination of our church building also uncovered serious structural problems that must be addressed before the instrument can be delivered and installed. 

Structural engineers have determined the walls of our church are beginning to lean outward—a condition that will worsen with time and must be addressed now to lessen further deterioration. 

They noted that the recurring accumulation of storm water in our basement will inevitably lead to serious deterioration and rotting of the foundation supporting the entire structure. 

Daylight can be seen through cracks in our walls, and the energy efficiency of our building is extremely poor, driving up fuel costs and making it difficult to maintain year-round comfort for parishioners and climate-control suitable to preserve and protect the new organ.

The Stones Will Sing Capital Campaign

Prior to the  installation of the organ, we must address the serious structural problems  revealed in the course of evaluating our worship space. To fund these urgently needed repairs and renovations, we are conducting The Stones Will Sing, a capital campaign. 

We have selected 4 Forty Four, Inc., of Blowing Rock as our general contractor. In preparing the winning proposal, principals of the company spent many hours on site, examining and evaluating our building and working with St Mary’s staff and parishioners to discern our needs and develop exacting plans to meet them. 

In getting to know the company, we have been impressed with their familiarity and experience with historic restoration and preservation, their proven reputation for completing projects on time and within budget, their competitive pricing and the quality and appearance of their finished projects. We are confident their work will result in a seamless blending of advanced building technologies with the historic character and charm of our church left beautifully intact.

Repairs and renovations are expected to take three to four months and will cost $300,000. Once complete, our church building will be structurally sound, energy efficient and well protected from moisture damage now and for decades to come. Worship space acoustics will be optimal for the full benefit and enjoyment of our new organ.

While the repair and renovation work is underway, worship services will be held in the Parish Hall. 

Your Response

The Stones Will Sing capital campaign is our parish’s opportunity to restore and secure our church building from further deterioration and to prepare our worship space for the new organ. The need for your support is immediate and essential.

As you consider your response to the campaign, we encourage you to reflect on your role as a loving and responsible steward of God’s house. Consider God’s many blessings and gifts to all of us as individuals and as a parish, and allow the Spirit to inspire your generosity accordingly. 

Your gift to The Stones Will Sing capital campaign assures St. Mary of the Hills will continue to thrive and serve God and our community in both the immediate and long-term future. Long-overdue repairs to our 95-year-old church can now be made, assuring its structural integrity and continuing service for generations to come. With your support of the campaign, the ministry and mission of our church can go on.

Please bear in mind that gifts to the capital campaign are intended to fund a specific repair and renovation project above and beyond the normal operating expenses of the church and so must be made in addition to, rather than in lieu of, annual pledges. This is a one-time opportunity to join fellow parishioners in literally saving our church building from eventual deterioration and collapse. In preparing our worship space for our new organ, your gift also makes you part of a wonderful legacy to be shared with present and future congregations.

Ways of Giving

You may contribute to The Stones Will Sing capital campaign with a one-time gift or by pledging to make a series of payments over the next two years. Gifts in cash are preferred, but St. Mary of the Hills will also accept gifts of stocks or mutual fund shares. Gifts may be made to remember or honor a loved one. 

All gifts to the campaign are important. Your participation at any level of giving will be sincerely appreciated and gratefully received as our parish works together to reach the campaign goal.

Cover Letters and Pledge Envelope

St. Mary of the Hills case statement cover letter
St. Mary of the Hills reply envelope

Letter to Solicit Lead Gifts

[MAILING DAY’S DATE]

[PROSPECT NAME(S)]
[MAILING ADDRESS]
[CITY, STATE ZIP]

Dear [FIRST NAME(S)],

As I am sure you are aware, we have for the past two years been diligently working toward replacing the much-loved but increasingly unreliable organ in our church. Collaborating closely with Jim Bumgardner, members of our Organ Committee have identified Lively-Fulcher Organ Builders as skilled craftsmen capable of creating the ideal instrument for St. Mary’s. We were exceedingly gratified when two parishioners came forward, generously offering to fund the purchase of a fine new instrument designed and built to our specifications. 

In preparing our worship space for installation of our new organ, we commissioned a study of the acoustic properties of the interior of our church. The resulting report contained some alarming news. Our cherished church building—a venerated landmark in downtown Blowing Rock for nearly a century—is in urgent need of repair and renovation. To raise the $300,000 needed to secure the building’s structural integrity, improve energy efficiency and enhance its acoustic properties, we are launching The Stones Will Sing capital campaign. Details of the campaign are in the enclosed case statement.

Because of your demonstrated generosity over the years and your love of our church, I am writing today to ask you to make a lead gift to our campaign. We have already received several $25,000 gifts and $10,000 pledges. Added to these, a gift at this level from you, given at once or in installments within the two-year pledge period, will set us well on our way to success as we invite parish-wide participation in the campaign. 

With your permission, a member of The Stones Will Sing campaign cabinet will contact you to answer any questions you may have and to ask for your help. If you would prefer to talk with me, I am always available by phone at the church, (828) 295-7323, or by email at rick@stmaryofthehills.org. We hope to make our general appeal to the congregation by early April and complete our campaign by May. With your help during this silent phase, we will surely succeed. 

Gratefully yours in Christ,

[SIGNATURE]

Fr. Rick Lawler

Letter to Prospective New Donors

[MAILING DAY’S DATE]

[PROSPECT NAME(S)]
[MAILING ADDRESS]
[CITY, STATE ZIP]

Dear Friend of St. Mary of the Hills,

As you may be aware, we have for the past two years been diligently working toward replacing the much-loved but increasingly unreliable organ in our church. Collaborating closely with Jim Bumgardner, our music director, members of our Organ Committee have identified Lively-Fulcher Organ Builders as skilled craftsmen capable of creating the ideal instrument for St. Mary’s. We were exceedingly gratified when two parishioners came forward, generously offering to fund the purchase of a fine new instrument designed and built to our specifications. 

In preparing our worship space for installation of our new organ, we commissioned a study of the acoustic properties of the interior of our church. The resulting report contained some alarming news. Our cherished church building—a venerated landmark in downtown Blowing Rock for nearly a century—is in urgent need of repair and renovation. 

To raise the $300,000 needed to secure the building’s structural integrity, improve energy efficiency and enhance its acoustic properties, we are launching The Stones Will Sing capital campaign to solicit the support of our entire parish in securing our building and making it a suitable space where we can enjoy our new organ for decades to come.

I am writing today to ask you to make a gift to our campaign. We have already received gifts amounting to approximately half of the goal. Added to these, your gift of any amount, given at once or in installments within the two-year pledge period, will assure our campaign’s success. 

Details of the campaign are in the enclosed case statement. A pledge envelope is also enclosed for your convenience. We hope to complete our campaign by May. With your generous participation, we will surely succeed. 

Gratefully yours in Christ,

[SIGNATURE]

Fr. Rick Lawler


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