By Chad Moyer, St. Luke Facilities Manager
If you’re a homeowner, you probably know how a seemingly small problem can escalate quickly. While we typically experience both anxiety and stress in the face of sudden and unknown problems, it’s also an opportunity to reaffirm our trust that God loves us and, in Jesus, provides everything we need.
In this specific case, the surprise problem has to do with the sewer system at ULC. And though the end of the story hasn’t been written yet, we can already see ways God is providing and ways we can join in and help.
It all started toward the end of last month. I was contacted on Sunday, September 21 because the sewer was backing up into the bathrooms. We called out Michigan Power Rodding (MPR) and found that the manhole out in the parking lot was backed up as well.
They brought out their high pressure jetting machine and could not clear it out. MPR decided to come back on Monday. At this point we had to make the decision to close the entire building, due to no water. In fact, we ended up closing the entire building for a week, with everything opening back up on Sunday, September 28.
Monday MPR brought their large snake and ended up getting it stuck in the line. We determined that the Orangeburg (old sewer pipe) was damaged about where the street sign is located. We called out five different companies and were able to get three quotes from Knights Grading & Excavating, DigIt, and Hutzel.
Tuesday, September 23, we had an emergency Administration Board meeting and decided to hire Knights to help us with our problem. They brought their recommendation to the SLC Executive Team, and it was decided to move forward with this.
At this point Chad Woltemath with the Michigan District reminded us that our lease says that, instead of paying any monthly rent, we are responsible for all repairs. At the same time the Michigan District agreed to cover half of the cost of the project, up to $20,000, to remove all Orangeburg.
So even though they are under no obligation, the Michigan District is showing their partnership and support of our mission at the Chapel! We are so grateful to them and to the God who is using them to help provide!
The next day we contacted Bob with Knights Grading. Bob started mobilizing on Thursday, and they had us up and flowing on Saturday, September 27, so we could open on Sunday. Again, we are thankful for God’s timing! We did not want to cancel worship at our ULC site!
So to sum up, we had Orangeburg from the manhole to the main under Washtenaw. We had the portion from the manhole to the sidewalk replaced with PVC for $20,000.
While we had this open, we discovered that there was a two-foot section of Orangeburg at the manhole towards the church, which also needed to be replaced, and had that done for $2,000.
We are waiting now for Bob with Knights to contact the City of Ann Arbor and the State of Michigan to determine if we can bore a new pipe under Washtenaw Avenue. This would be the best way for us to redo the sewer under Washtenaw.
Knights gave me a verbal quote of $20,000-$25,000 to replace the portion under Washtenaw. We need to remember that Washtenaw is a state road, which entails more details and more cost to do work on.
With all costs to this point we have about $24,000 into the project, with at least $20,000 more to go. It is our intention to remove all the Orangeburg, so that we will not have this problem again in the future.
When word of this unexpected expenditure started to come out, Mike and Judy Maynard from Angel Food Catering offered to donate the food for a spaghetti dinner to help raise funds. Once again, God is working through His people to help provide for His Church! The date for the benefit dinner is Sunday, November 16, 5:00-7:00 PM at the St. Luke-Ann Arbor site.
I would like to thank the Admin Board, the SLC, the Staff at the Common Cup, Larry Frank, Angel Food Catering, and the Michigan District for all the help that they have provided during this situation! God had worked through these people to keep us moving forward in the right direction!
All of those large dollar amounts have a kind of sticker shock. And, like that unexpected home repair, there is some anxiety and stress as we figure out how we are going to pay for it.
But God has already shown that He is in control. So we are stepping forward in faith, looking for what we can do, while trusting the whole to God and His good purpose and timing.
So what can you do?
Trust and pray. Every unexpected challenge is an opportunity to reaffirm how much we depend on God for every daily need. Tell yourself—and Jesus—how much you need Him.
Jump in. Join us for the spaghetti dinner on November 16, at 5 p.m. at St. Luke-Ann Arbor. Enjoy good company. Eat good food. Give generously. The mission of the St. Luke multisite can’t move forward without you!
In all of this, we continue to rely on God’s direction and timing and look for what He is calling us to do. Trusting Jesus and looking for how we can respond—can a sewer problem lead to discipleship?! You bet!!