The Church at its Best!

After a three year discernment process and a long and contentious approval process the Saint Francis House Episcopal Student Ministry property is scheduled for redevelopment, deconstruction of part of the existing building and construction of a new Student Apartment building that will provide an income stream to sustain and enliven the campus ministry.  On Friday night at fire broke out at the Porchlight Transitional Housing Apartments on Brooks Street.  This apartment building is adjacent to the Saint Francis House property.  The next day, Saturday, I was able to send this letter to the Madison Common Council:

My name is Andy Jones.  I am the Rector of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church and a member of the Saint Francis House Board.  I have a wonderful story to tell you.

This morning, while I was reading about the fire at Porchlight, I received a call from Steve Silverburg, a partner with LZ Ventures.  We have already turned the property at 1001 University Avenue over to LZ so that they can begin the development process.  Steve had seen the articles about the fire and spoken with his partners.  He was calling to say that they were willing to return the building to us and to delay the beginning of the construction process to allow the displaced residents of the Porchlight Facility temporary emergency shelter at Saint Francis House for up to one month.

the Saint Francis House Board, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee immediately approved these arrangements and The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Grieser, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, contacted the staff at Porchlight.

Porchlight has been able to relocate six of their displaced residents in other faciliites.  The remaining ten residents will stay with the Red Cross tonight and then take temporary shelter at Saint Francis House tomorrow.

Steve Silverburg called again this afternoon and Jim Stoppel, owner of Madison Property Management and manager of Grand Central Student Apartments, has offered to lend us furniture and supplies to make the Porchlight residents comfortable while they are being housed at Saint Francis House.

When we came before you asking for approval for our development project we said that we were committed to being good neighbors on the block.  This story demonstrates the depth and quality of that commitment.

I know that the approval process for the Saint Francis House development was a difficult decision.  I hope that this story helps to illustrate the fact that, in the end, we are all working together to develop and nurture a strong and vibrant community where people can come together and work for the common good.


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