future planning committee reports

Report #1

August 1, 2021

The committee has met four times. At the first organizational meeting, we initiated discussions so that at the second, third and forth meetings, we were able to set schedules for interviews and divide fact-gathering tasks.

I. Community Population Growth Projections

The City Manager of Lorena and the President of the Lorena Chamber of Commerce were contacted for information. Both referred us to Jason Mundo of Mundo and Associates who is a consultant for the city that provides all information for the city Economic Development unit.

Mundo projects that the east side of Lorena (3-mile radius) is expected to grow from the current 1700 citizens to at least 5000 citizens in the next 5 to 10 years. Approximately 600 new houses are expected to be built east of I 35 with a subdivision of 200 homes already begun on Rosenthal Parkway and Birdie Lane. Lorena received a grant for the expansion of sewer and water service to the east side of I 35 and is, or expects to, annex an area on that side of the highway. The area is not in Waco ETJ. In addition, on the west side of Lorena, the Westbrook subdivision has about 30 new homes all already occupied. Additional subdivisions are being developed on Pilgrim Lane at Old Lorena Road and on Southern View.

We have met with Tom Howe, director of BGCT Church Planting for a review of growth projections for our area. He provided a wealth of information on projected growth, demographics of the growth population and suggestions of target ministries. Since he provided about 30 pages of charts and tables we are still working through the data.

We have contact the Lorena Administration Office for school projections. The latest projections were in 2020 and perhaps low. The 2020 projections predicted a 34 percent increase in school attendance in the next 10 years from about 1751 to 2339, a 34% increase.

II. Current Facilities Survey

Sanctuary - We have 33 pews. At 8 people per pew, we can seat approximately 266 worshipers. In 2019, we had our highest attendance of 259 (Easter.) We are currently running between 146 to 192 each week.

Bible Study Rooms - We have 11 rooms downstairs – 7 are currently used for Adult Sunday School, 3-4 for Children. We have 12 rooms upstairs - 3 being used for adult classes, I for children, and 4 for storage. We have a separate building for Students.

Average attendance 2020-2021 for in person meetings: Adults (10 classes) between 70 and 94; Children (4 classes) 17; Students (4 classes) 10.

III. Projected Needs

We have reviewed and continue to consider the previous PlanNorth document for ideas. We wish to honor the work of a prior Vision committee and avoid repeating the work that has already been done.

Sanctuary – Preliminary assessment is that the sanctuary is adequate for the 5 to 10 years future

projections. If necessary, we can go to two services and/or use the Fellowship Hall with screens for large (Easter) overflow.

Bible Study Facilities –Whether we will have adequate facilities for the next 5 to 10 years is being

considered, even if we fully utilize the upstairs rooms. However, to access the second story rooms we will need an elevator. This appears to be a priority as all the adult Sunday School rooms on the ground floor are currently in use or needed for Children ministry, with no room for expansion downstairs. (There are currently 2 rooms downstairs being utilized by Shepherd’s Heart food pantry). Several of the upstairs rooms currently used for storage can be consolidated to make rooms available for ministry. Needs for Youth ministry facilities are still under study. We will consider other options, such as temporary use of Fellowship Hall and establishment of home meeting Life Groups as some other churches are doing.

IV. Future New Remodeling and Buildings

Needs, size, projected cost and financing are being considered.

Converting the foyer to a true Welcome Center (foyer) is considered an important remodeling project. We have been told that an adequate Welcome Center where people can get to know the church and each other is vital for church growth and retention of members. A Barna Survey found that if regular visitors do not make at least three good friends in the first year of attendance, they will leave. Attractive Bible Study (SS) groups are very important for this but do not reach everyone. Such social interactions in a Welcome Center also facilitate follow-up and outreach to new residents of the community.

Pat Ekern, Consultant Architect for BGCT is scheduled for a site visit in August to help the committee assess needs and options for placement of an elevator, remodeling ( as in a Welcome Center), new buildings and the like.

In August, we also plan to discuss vision, needs and the relationship of Shepherd’s Heart, 501c3 Corporation with FBC Lorena .

We have also had one on-site meetings with an elevator provider for recommendations and cost projections.

We plan to a get estimates on with the possibility of and construction advice (and estimated costs) for new building(s).

V. Summary

Once we have gathered the information as outlined above, we can begin making more detailed project plans, obtain cost estimates, and explore financing options (i.e., fundraising Capital campaign, pay as you go, or loans).

We will also consider (through interviews) what new ministries we may expect in the next 5 to 10 years, and what potential facilities they may require.

Report #2

August 24, 2021

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.

Report #3
September 24, 2021

The Future Planning Committee has met twice since our last report to the church, for a total of nine
committee meetings. Since our last report, we have met with R & R Remodeling and Ronnie Laird,
builder, to obtain conceptual cost estimates for three building options. Option 1 and 2 are options for
expansion of the Fellowship Hall which includes the installation of an elevator and option 3 is for a
separate building to house the Shepherd’s Heart food pantry. We have also met with three landscape
architects who are developing master plans and cost estimates for landscaping within the Center Street
entrance area to the church. We have obtained two estimates for the cost of an elevator, but not the
cost of installation. We have located a Waco Contractor (Team Z) familiar with elevator shaft
construction and will meet with them soon.

Pat Ekern, BGCT Architect, presented us earlier this week three floor plans and elevation options for
consideration. We have not yet completed review of these options. Once the committee completes the
review and makes a final decision, Pat will also provide us a site plan of the option(s) we consider best.
These options sheets can be provided to anyone upon request but are too bulky for inclusion here.
We have met with Heath and have obtained his insights on future planning, including future ministries,
and he will be included in all future meetings of the committee.

The Committee is working on a time for a second meeting with representatives from the Shepherd’s
Heart food pantry to discuss the Committee recommendations for the separate structure referenced

First Baptist Church, Lorena
Future Planning Committee.

Report #4

October 24, 2021

The Future Planning Committee has met again three times since our last report to the church, for a total of twelve committee meetings. Pastor Heath has attended these last three meetings. Since our last report, we have met with Susan Yow from Shepherd’s Heart food pantry twice to review a proposal that the Committee is prepared to submit to the church in its final report. In our second meeting, Susan confirmed that the committee’s proposed report and recommendation has been approved by the Shepherd’s Heart board. Basically, the proposal is for the church to set aside an area of about 1/3 acre on the rear of the church property on Oak Street. It is believed that this lot size will accommodate a building of about 2800 sq. ft. with appropriate parking (as required by the City of Lorena).As part of the proposal, church will contribute up to $100,000 toward the cost of parking and Shepherd’s Heart will pay for the cost of the building. The building, estimated to cost about $250,000 - $275,000, will be owned by the church and leased to Shepherd’s Heart, LLC at a minimal annual cost.

Further, the committee, after careful consideration and study has settled on a likely recommendation, pending an estimate of the cost, of a two-story expansion of the Fellowship Hall between the current Fellowship Hall and the Office building which will include the installation of an elevator as the most desirable option for recommendation to the church. Such an addition would accomplish a needed expansion of the Fellowship Hall, reduce the cost of an elevator installation, add additional Bible study rooms on the second story, and generally enhance the appearance and utility of the church facilities. We are continuing to attempt to obtain cost estimates. We recently met with Pearson Construction of Waco and expect a cost estimate for expansion of Fellowship Hall and elevator installation in a couple of weeks.

The committee also has obtained cost estimates from two of three landscape architects for master plans for landscaping the courtyard area at the church entrance.

We continue to work with Pat Ekern, BGCT Architect, on floor plans and elevations of the addition. Her insight into code and ADA (American with Disabilities Act) requirements as well as her creativity in design and problem solving has been invaluable. Attempts to locate architects and construction companies that can assist in obtaining necessary drawing, cost estimates, and design ideas are ongoing. These plans as well as other details of our work are available upon request


Future Planning Committee

First Baptist Church, Lorena

Final Report


As members of First Baptist Church of Lorena, we are called to be salt and light to our surrounding community (our Jerusalem) and to provide a place for worship, discipleship of believers, training of children, and love for those around us by providing physical and spiritual needs and to witness to the lost. First Baptist Church Lorena was established almost simultaneously with the founding of the town of Lorena. There were 22 founding members in September 1882 with Elder John S. Allen as  the first pastor. Through ups and down, want and plenty, good times and bad it has survived as a beacon of God’s blessings to this community.

The rapidly expanding population of our community is another transition and opportunity to serve our community in God’s name. The Future Planning Committee’s work was done with full trust that God will provide for the needs that lie ahead.


The surrounding area of Lorena is expected to grow 50 to 100% within the next 10 years. The challenge for our church is to continue to provide a place for those moving into our community. God willing, our church ministries can match that growth with proper outreach and facility upgrades.

1. The Committee believes that the current sanctuary, offices, and student ministry facilities are adequate to accommodate the growth. The education building and classrooms can become adequate with the installation of an elevator, and if the Shepherd’s Heart food pantry is relocated to a separate building.

2. The fellowship hall space is inadequate and needs to be enlarged.

Recommendations to Meet Immediate and Other Needs.

1. Allot 1/3 acre on the rear of the church property on Oak Street for a Shepherd’s Heart, LLC building of, for example, about 40 by 60 Feet with an extension for two walk-in freezers (for a total of about 2800 ft2 ). The building will be owned by the church, paid for by Shepherd’s Heart, LLC, and leased back to Shepherd’s Heart, LLC for a nominal yearly fee. The church will pay up to $100,000 towards the cost for paving for access and parking.

2. Update the foyer between the sanctuary and education wing to an attractive Welcome Center.

3. Install security doors on each end of the first floor of the education building for the safety of the children.

4. Construct a two-story addition to the fellowship hall between the current fellowship hall and the offices, which will include an elevator for access to the upstairs portion of the education building, adding three classrooms and approximately 50% more space to the fellowship hall.

5. Some additional facilities upgrades as detailed in the attached full report.



We are called to Gather (worship and fellowship), Grow (discipleship and bible study) and Go (evangelize in our community the state and the world). The Future Planning Committee was commissioned by the church to address our opportunities to Gather, Grow and Go as our community grows.


Thus, the Committee was organized and commissioned to provide the church with recommendations for physical facilities improvements that will be adequate to the projected ministry needs over the next ten years. The charge to the Committee included consideration of all ministries of the church which encompassed the immediate need for space for the Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry, children’s ministry, discipleship and student ministry and church offices. The Committee was also charged to consider past plans, including PlanNorth, and to consider how an elevator could help with current and future space needs. The commission by the church to the Committee is attached as Attachment 1.


I. The Committee approached the task in the following order.

I. Assessment of the projected growth of the surrounding community.

II. Assessment of the currently available space and facilities.

III. Determination of the space needs for growth in ministries relevant to those coming into our community.

IV. Determine and prioritize ways to meet the projected ministry needs.

V. Report to the church the Committee’s findings, options, and recommendations to address projected growth.


II. Projected Community Growth

The Committee consulted The City Manager of Lorena and the President of the Lorena Chamber of Commerce for information. Both referred us to Jason Mundo of Mundo and Associates who is a consultant for the city that provides all information for the city Economic Development unit. Mundo projects that the east side of Lorena (3.5 mile radius) is expected to grow from the current 1,700 citizens to about 5,000 citizens in the next 5 to 10 years. Approximately 600 new houses are expected to be built east of I-35with a subdivision of 200 homes already begun on Rosenthal Parkway and Birdie Lane. The Lorena School District projected about a 5% growth but their estimate is at least a year out of date. The BGCT Church Planning group estimated substantial growth.


As a result, the Committee believes we can project a community growth (within 3.5 mile radius of the church) of about 50 to 100%, that is, population is likely to double. We could expect church growth to grow equally if we have effective outreach and programs.



III. Available Space and Future Facility Space Needs

The Committee believes that the sanctuary is adequate for the 5 to 10 year’s projections. If necessary, we can go to two services and/or use the fellowship hall with screens for large (Easter) overflow. 


An elevator is needed to access the second story classrooms in the education wing of the building. This will free up all seven classrooms on the first floor of the education wing, which is considered adequate for children’s Bible study and Awana programs in the next 10-year period. An elevator is therefore a priority as all the adult Sunday School classrooms on the ground floor are currently in use or needed for children’s ministry, with no room for expansion downstairs.


In order to free up the children’s classroom space there needs to be provided space, outside of the current church facilities, for Shepherd’s Heart food pantry. Security doors in the children’s space is also a priority.


The fellowship hall is considered inadequate for the projected increase in membership and needs to the enlarged.


The foyer needs to be upgraded into an attractive and inviting Welcome Center and the entrance courtyard needs to be upgraded to provide a welcoming entrance to the Welcome Center and to the church.


Additional signage is needed as well as some expenditure to upgrade/modernize the interior of the church buildings.



IV. Recommendations – Projects and Costs

After careful assessment and consideration of the projected growth of the population of Lorena and surrounding areas, of the projected church facility needs, and to address the projected ministry growth, your Future Planning Committee recommends the following.


Immediate Needs

1.  The committee recommends that a space of about 1/3 acre (approximately 120 ft x 120ft or 132ft x 110 ft) be set aside on the back corner of the church property on Oak Street for a building for Shepherd’s Heart, LLC. It is recommended that the church contribute up to, but no more than, $100,000, to the construction of parking space for the building. Shepherd’s Heart, Inc. would provide the remaining cost of the building. This space would, for example, accommodate a building of approximately 40ft x 60ft with an extension for two freezers  for a total of 2,800 ft2 with space for appropriate paved parking. Shepherd’s Heart, LLC would not be able to expand the building without specific authorization of the church.. Its size must fit into the current property without limiting future church growth (such as a large Life Center or Sanctuary). A major consideration of the Committee has been that whatever we recommend to the church must be useful for other ministries of the church should circumstances of Shepherd’s Heart change. For example, the size and location would be ideal for a youth building or other related activities. The building would be expected to house the entire food distribution ministry supported by the church, with no further use of existing rooms in the education building or other church buildings as it is expected that all that space will be needed for Bible study and children’s ministries.

Any building built on church property must be owned by First Baptist Church, Lorena. It would be leased to Shepherd’s Heart on acceptable agreement terms for a nominal fee. If at some time in the future the Shepherd‘s Heart no longer is able to use the building, it would then become available for other church ministry needs. The building may be either a metal or wood structure and must be compatible with the style of the church, having either a brick or brick facade exterior. The committee obtained one estimate of the cost of a 40ft x 60ft brick faced, wood framed building of about $235,000.


2. To accommodate expected growth in adult Bible study classes, now numbering ten, there needs to be an elevator installed in order for all members to have the ability to access the second-floor classrooms in the education wing. An elevator will also facilitate more complete use of the upstairs rooms of the education building. Retrofitting the current space for an elevator is expensive as a six-foot deep pit must be dug into the existing foundation, three phase 240V electric provided, a drain for a pit sump pump and a fireproof elevator shaft constructed). Thus far no suitable location has been found to install the elevator that does not have serious tradeoffs (reduced nursery size, loss of one to two classrooms, loss of a restroom, and interference with children’s wing traffic flow). Moreover, the Committee believes that there is also an immediate need to expand the size of the fellowship hall. With that in mind, the Committee recommends an addition to the fellowship hall that includes an installed elevator. An elevator located in a new construction of an addition to the fellowship hall will significantly reduce the elevator installation cost.

Therefore, the Committee recommends adding an extension of the fellowship hall into the space between the current fellowship hall and the office building with a two-story addition containing a foyer with an elevator. Not only does this add an elevator, but it will also add three classrooms on the second floor. The addition would be about 22 ft by 51 ft with a 22 ft by 15 ft foyer that would contain the elevator and stairs. We have received cost estimates from Pearson Construction and Mitchell Construction. The estimated cost of an installed elevator is about $150,000 if built in new construction. The cost of an elevator alone would be about $200,000 to $250,000 if installed in the existing building. The cost of the two-story addition is estimated to be about $750,000 (including an elevator and three additional upstairs classrooms plus a $50,0000 contingency) and would increase the fellowship hall by almost 50%. There will also be an estimated cost of about $400/mo. for an elevator maintenance contract.

A rendering of the proposed addition by McDaniel Art Works is attached (Attachments 2, 3 and 4) as is a conceptual design prepared by the BGCT architect, Pat Ekern (Attachment 5, 6, and 7).


3. The Committee further recommends the installation of security doors on each end of the first-floor hallway of the education wing to enhance safety in the children’s area.


4. The Committee also recommends remodeling the present church foyer into a more attractive and inviting Welcome Center.



Other Needs

1. Obtaining and implementing a landscape plan for the entrance courtyard behind the church sign facing Center Street.


2. Signage that more clearly directs visitors to the church entrance on Center Street and to appropriate buildings. The church currently lacks adequate signage for visitors and new members not familiar with the church building arrangements.


3. Replacement of the entrance cover on the I-35 side of the church with one of a more attractive design.


4. Miscellaneous repairs and upgrades to the church as recommended by the Stewardship Committee.


V. Cost

A cost estimate spreadsheet for all the above projects is attached (Attachment 8).


1. Immediate Needs

     Cost                                        $ 812,000

     Money currently available   $ 150,000

     Amount to be raised            $ 662,000


2. Other Needs

     Cost                                        $ 75,000


VI. Conclusion

While the cost of these additions and upgrades is great, it is the Committee’s view that these are achievable goals and that they will position First Baptist Lorena to continue to serve and to provide a place of God’s light in our community. It will allow our church to continue to Gather, Grow, and Go, as it has done for the last 140 years.


VII. What’s Next

We will hold two question and answer sessions to address your questions after you have had an opportunity to review the final report.


Saturday January 22nd at 10:00 am in the Fellowship Hall

Tuesday, January 25that 6:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall


There will then be a called business meeting after church on January 30th to vote on the Committee’s recommendations.