Accessibility at Epiphany
"... for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." Isaiah 56:7
For decades it has been a vision of Epiphany’s leaders to make our beautiful campus entirely accessible to all, to “allow all of God’s beloved, not just the able bodied, to participate fully in the life of our parish.”
A big step forward took place in 2010 when the circular side driveway was installed on Central Street by a team of volunteers, led by parishioner Sam Kellogg for his Eagle Scout project. This gravel driveway provided level access to our building for the first time. A team of “side door greeters” helps parishioners to their pews each Sunday.
Many parishioners have contributed to our accessibility planning over the years. Other milestones:
1996 – obtained first elevator estimate
2003 – created space in the pews to accommodate wheelchairs
2004 – acquired portable ramps for access to sanctuary and Hadley Hall
2005 – convinced the Town to designate a handicapped parking space in front of church
2008 – eliminated step up to church office door in cloister garden
2009 – established communion station on the ground level to bypass stairs to altar
2010 – convinced the Town to install two cut-out handicapped parking spaces on Church St.
2012 – conducted ADA compliance audit of our campus
2013 – developed detailed Accessibility Master Plan
The elevator is the capstone of our Accessibility Master Plan. It will enable our entire building (excepting the Garrett, the choir loft, and the basement Genesis room) to be fully accessible to all members of our parish community.
We have listened to parishioners who say they need this access. To the family whose grandmother couldn’t participate in their baptism celebration in the upper parish hall because she couldn’t climb the stairs, to the parishioner with multiple sclerosis who was trapped in the bathroom because she was no longer strong enough to pull open the heavy wooden door, to those who can’t park down the road because it’s too far for them to walk safely, and to those who have had difficulty navigating even the few stairs to get into the sanctuary or Hadley Hall.
We are currently using the Upper Parish Hall almost every week as a gathering space after church, primarily for young families, as we have expanded our programming. Going forward, the elevator will enable us to use the Upper Parish Hall for more multi-generational and parish-wide events, since everyone can be included. It will be easier for choir members to access, and to transport food from the kitchen to provide hospitality. It will be more attractive for outside rentals. The elevator will make it easier to move items from the basement for rummage and the fair, to fully utilize the basement rooms for committee meetings and classes, to make another set of bathrooms available to all, and for participants in weekly parent groups to get their strollers downstairs. You get the idea!
Funding for all of these improvements came from the Epiphany community, primarily through three capital campaigns: Together Now (2012), Together Again (2015), and Together Forever (2019).