Future planning committee report

august 24, 2021

Report No. 2


The Future Planning Committee has met for an additional three meetings since our last report to the church, making a total of seven meetings. Since our last report, we have met with Tom Howe, Director of Church Planning for the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), with Pat Ekern, Consulting Architect, for the BGCT and with Susan Yow and Ellen Perry of Shepherd’s Heart.


Tom Howe presented the committee with two comprehensive reports detailing our area’s (Lorena) population growth (3.5 mile radius of Lorena) and with demographics details. The reports also detailed data on what ministries and church services we may expect to be needed. The reports are too large and detailed for inclusion in this report but are available upon request.


Pat Ekern met with the committee for an extensive discussion and her site report is attached.


Notes from the meeting with Shepherd’s Heart are also attached.


In the upcoming weeks we plan to meet with Heath Kirkwood to get his insights on future planning, including future ministries, to begin obtaining plans for an elevator, potential buildings, welcome center, and landscaping at the church entrance all with cost estimates and timing.




First Baptist Church, Lorena

Future Planning Committee.

future planning committee meeting

with shepherd's heart




The Future Planning Committee met with Susan Yow and Ellen Perry of Shepherd’s Heart on 8/11/2021.

Vision and History

Susan explained the vision, operation and needs of Shepherd’s Heart. Shepherd’s Heart is a 501(c)( 3) Non-Profit Corporation . Susan explained that it was set up as a separate entity from the church at the suggestion of the Church’s Stewardship Committee in order to obtain grants and donations that would not be available to the church. In that, it has been successful. It was always intended, and continues to be, a mission or ministry of First Baptist Church, Lorena.


Shepherd’s Heart obtains food and other supplies from two primary sources- The Austin Regional Food Bank that delivers food and supplies to the Waco area and from Caritas which is another Food Bank distribution center.  Some of the food from Austin Food Bank costs a small amount, but food from Caritas is free. Shepherd’s Heart Lorena is one of the larger middle sized food pantries so they get a lower cost on food from the Food Bank. The more food they order the price per pound goes down. The food from Caritas is divided among those Food Banks that obtain food from it, so that it is difficult to assess what and how much is received on a regular basis. Thus, Shepherd’s Heart is frequently required to take more than can be used, however, some is shared with other food distributions units in our area. Donations to date have been more than enough to pay for the food and the excess has been retained in a building fund. Currently there is about $250,000 available in the building fund. Other designated grants have also been obtained such as a grant to purchase refrigeration equipment. Some supplies, not food, are supplied regularly from a Walmart warehouse, which also donates money to the pantry on occasion. A local auto repair shop is taking most of the automotive supplies.

All the workers for Shepherd’s Heart are unpaid volunteers. A number of the pantry patrons are also faithful volunteers.  Patrons of the pantry must meet government guidelines and fill out appropriate paperwork. Essentially, the pantry cannot discriminate as to who receives assistance, thus it cannot just be church members. Shepherd’s Heart has a software program that keeps track of qualified patrons, and prints identification cards that can be scanned in. This greatly facilitates record keeping.

The challenge for Shepherd’s Heart is facilities space. Currently there is a dedicated church classroom for food storage and several other rooms used for intermediate storage. Food is obtained on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, unloaded into two classrooms and distributed on Thursday evenings. On Friday, all the classrooms must be put back in order and any excess food stored. This involves a tremendous amount of labor. A dedicated building would eliminate most of this shuffling of food and greatly reduce the workload. Currently excess food, particularity fresh produce, diary and bakery items are shared with several food distribution units in the surrounding area (Robinson, Lott, Moody, Golinda, and Bruceville/Eddy ).

Susan said that the current distribution of clothing resulted when the previous organization that collected and gave out clothing has not reappeared after the pandemic, and that the clothing is being donated without request from Shepherd’s Heart. The unused clothes are re-boxed and stored after each Thursday’s distribution.

Succession plan.

Susan was asked about a succession plan when she is no longer the director. She said she expected to be director for a long time, but that she believed that the pantry would continue to operate. She suggested that a paid part time director should be possible, paid for out of Shepherd’s Heart donations. She believes that such would be a welcome job for a retired person or young mother that had a heart for what the pantry is doing.

Building Needs.

Susan would like to have a 5,000 square foot (50 ft by 100 ft) building dedicated to Shepherd’s Heart’s operations. She provided a floor plan. This building would be the size of the first floor of the current education building including the kitchen and bathrooms, but not the fellowship hall. She said that she had a cost estimate of $350,000 for a metal building of that size and configuration but that was before the pandemic, and cost of materials, particularity steel, have skyrocketed since then. A new estimate will be needed and is currently being prepared. While it is preferred that the building be on Church property, it could well be located elsewhere. However, there does not appear to be any suitable sites available at a cost that is affordable. To purchase a site and build is more costly than Shepherd’s Heart can afford or raise. It is believed, by Susan, that that such a building would supply all the future facility needs of the pantry. A smaller, perhaps expandable, building could meet current needs.

Should the church choose to construct a building, Shepherd’s Heart is prepared to contribute up to $250,000 to the cost given a suitable lease or other agreement that guaranteed Shepherd’s Heart continued use. The church would own the building. Timing was discussed. It seems likely that the church will need the Sunday School rooms now being used for Shepherd’s Heart food storage before a building could be constructed. There is also a current need for space for refrigeration equipment from a grant that must be used by May 2022.