Frequently Asked Questions


ARISE AND BUILD is a capital funds campaign designed to free our church from debt while funding new ministries critical to delivering on our God-given vision in the center of our city.  

ARISE AND BUILD is not a building campaign. Instead our efforts are focused on readiness to build the kingdom of God.

This is also not part of your regular offering. Giving to ARISE AND BUILD is a special act of generosity, over and above your tithe to the church’s annual operating budget. 

What are the goals of the campaign?


We’re all in this together.

As part of this covenant family, we stand on 140 years of faithful generosity and prayer. Your financial investment in ARISE AND BUILD over the next four years will allow this church to move into the future, unburdened by debt and positioned to build God’s Kingdom in the center of this city, in a way we’ve never seen before.

The campaign’s financial goal will be $7,700,000 focused in six major areas, each of which is vital to the future ministry of our church.

They are as follows:

  • Eliminating Debt: $3,900,000 (COMPLETED 12/30/2015)
  • Campus Infrastructure: $600,000/$350,000
  • Student Ministry Space Renovation: $650,000
  • The Center for Faith and Work: $750,000
  • Church Planting: $750,000
  • Our Mission Tithe: $700,000 ($300,000 Remaining)

Our Most Recent Campaign Updates
See the Vision page for details on projects.


A season of spiritual growth.

ARISE AND BUILD isn’t just about financial freedom for our covenant family. This is a chance for each of us to step into the vision God has set before us. This is a time of investing in the financial and spiritual health of each individual and family in the life of our church.

Over the next 4 years, we will offer unique opportunities for you to grow in your understanding of Biblical stewardship and giving, including sermon series, Bible study, workshops and practical budgeting tools and resources.

What is the Center for Faith and Work and why is it needed at First Pres?

Given our location in downtown Orlando, we want to adopt a “city center” ministry model that allows us to leverage our location for influence throughout the “city”, which for us is Central Florida. In our recent church survey, one of the clear strengths of our body is our location. We are not here by accident. The business community is at our doorstep. The arts community, through the new Performing Arts Center, is now at our doorstep. The Civic community is our neighbor with Orange County administration across the street and the City of Orlando down the block. This is an unprecedented opportunity that God has entrusted to us, which means we must take our talents and invest them strategically!

Based loosely on the model of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, The Center for Faith and Work in Manhattan is something that David Swanson and Case Thorp have visited, studied and begun training to implement here in Orlando.

The Center for Faith and Work here in Orlando would reach the business, civic and arts communities through public forums and seminars, focused theological education and spiritual formation, industry-specific gatherings, artistic expression, and one-to-one discipleship. This is not a building or a structure. It is a discipleship model to equip and train our members who serve in various professional fields to understand their work as “vocation” with Kingdom purpose. Members would go through a one-year discipleship training teaching them how to have meaningful, intentional relationships in the marketplace that lead to conversations that transform lives.

Those individuals would then form groups based on profession (i.e., artists, bankers, brokers, etc.). The purpose of those groups would be to create larger influence for the Kingdom in that particular industry. Groups would hold forum events unique to their field. World-class experts in each field would be invited to speak. Groups would host events and discussions that are directed at ways to change and renew the culture in our city, in non-church settings like office buildings, the Dr Phillips Center, and art museums.

 In relationship to this model, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York has seen the Christian population in Manhattan grow from .3% fifteen years ago to 3.3% currently. Their goal is to see a 10% population of Christians in Manhattan by 2025.

Dollars raised for this new initiative would provide for the first 6 years of initial staffing (an Associate Pastor and Administrative Assistant), office space rental, resources, training, speaker honorariums and space rental for events. This would include the first two years of preparation and training needed before launch.

What renovations will happen to our current youth ministry space and why is that necessary?

For years, our youth ministry space has been fully utilized and worn down, mainly due to the high traffic created by the multiple groups that use it each day (The Christ School, FOUR12, and Student Ministry). We want to create a space that is comfortable and inviting for middle and high school students, a space that communicates our desire to have them here. In the same way we renovated the Clayton Building for SHINE Children's Ministry, we envision a space that has relevant, welcoming decor, dynamic meeting rooms with comfortable furniture and communication tools, a large room meeting space that can accommodate 200 students at any given time, kitchen facilities that make basic food service possible, staging and sound equipment for large meetings, plus any necessary flooring and wall treatments.

Where will we plant a church and what does that mean for the members of FPCO? Why is this necessary?

Church planting has long been a part of the ministry of First Presbyterian Church, including Park Lake Presbyterian, Winter Park Presbyterian, Tuskawilla Presbyterian and Celebration Presbyterian. It has always been our desire to see the Kingdom of God grow by planting solid, Reformed, evangelical churches where none currently exist. Why? It is part of our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28). In addition, statistics show that church plants grow by conversion/profession of faith at far higher rates than previously established churches, which tend to grow by transfer of membership. That is our desire! We want to see the Kingdom of God grow.

Given the number of strong churches currently existing in Orlando, we will not be planting a church in this area. Instead, we will partner with Redeemer Presbyterian's church planting network to find the right city, location, and leadership. As hard as it is to believe, there are still many cities in this country where solid churches are needed. In addition, it is far cheaper to plant a church in many places overseas than the United States. (For $50,000, we can start a church in a city like Munich or Paris, and that includes pastoral staff.) The additional advantage of such a project would be the ongoing relationships with FPCO. We would send members to share ministry in much that same way we currently partner with Mission Emanuel, but our members would not be encouraged to go directly plant the church.

How does the mission tithe work?

God commands His people to take a “tithe” or 10% of the first fruits of their labors. As the church, we model this expectation in the same way as the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 8:7) to honor God and celebrate His generosity among us. One tenth of each dollar raised will go to support specific new projects among our existing mission partners. These projects will be focused on Mercy Drive, Madagascar, and Mission Emanuel in the Dominican Republic, with specifics to be determined by our FaithServes Team. (Our Mission Partners)

What, specifically, are you asking of the congregation?

We are asking each person to participate in two ways:

  • Pray. Pray for our church and for God’s leading in what you will personally give.
  • Make a commitment to give and participate in ARISE AND BUILD on Sunday, November 2, 2014. 


What about ministry needs within the church?

As our church family has given faithfully and grown in giving participation, we have worked to balance our budget and be good stewards of our offerings. Paying off our debt will free up approximately $190,000 in debt service paid annually, which will go back into our operating budget and give us a safe margin to manage existing ministries, as well as anticipate regular cost increases. We are also hopeful that debt reduction will keep our cash reserves in such a place that we no longer need to borrow from a line of credit during the summer.

How is this different from my regular giving?

This is a special offering, over and above your regular giving. Your regular tithe offering will continue to support the ongoing ministry of the church, to which many of us have made an annual “commitment” already. ARISE AND BUILD is a separate gift to invest in the future of the church, trusting that God will provide the means to respond as He leads.

How did we get into debt?

In 2004, our debt stood at $15 million as a result of several major building projects. The Immeasurably More Campaign (2006-2010) reduced that debt to $2 million. While the campaign was fully pledged, several major gifts were given in real estate, and due to the recession, those gifts did not monetize as anticipated. Two additional factors increased the debt to the present $3.9 million:

  • We paid $900,000 to exit the PC(USA). Given the value of our property and the position of Florida courts on church property disputes, this fee was a blessing. (Consider the most recent church departing, Menlo Park Presbyterian, was required to pay $8.89 million for their property.)
  • We upgraded our entire video system, an analog system that was 15 years old. Failure of that system would have compromised what we do on Sunday mornings as well as our webcasts of worship.

Another factor to consider is greater diversification of giving outside the church. The fundraising landscape has changed dramatically, and we have seen a 600% increase in non-profit and para-church ministries since 2006. Essentially, each of us are being asked to give more in more places, which often redirects funding away from the church. 

How will the operating budget be affected by this campaign?

Our hope and prayer is that our operating budget will continue to be fully funded by the regular giving of our congregation. We want to be clear that any gift made to this campaign is over and above a person’s regular giving. Thus, giving to ARISE AND BUILD will be sacrificial. It may be a more significant commitment, but what a privilege we have to invest in God’s Kingdom work in this city and beyond!

Is our leadership committed to this campaign?

Yes! Our Session is 100% invested in and supporting this campaign. 

Is Dr. Swanson committed to staying at First Presbyterian throughout this campaign?

Yes! Dr. Swanson has communicated his renewed vision and vigor for the ministry of First Presbyterian, and he is energized about what this campaign means for our future.

Why can’t a few wealthy families take care of the debt themselves?

God’s call to be faithful stewards - to be a generous people - does not fall on the few, but on the entire church family. We are each called to take part as the Lord enables us, with each gift being valued and worthy in the eyes of God. From the widow’s mite to the largest gift, each is significant in the eyes of the Lord. Our hope is that we will think not in terms of equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.

When will my commitment begin?

ARISE Sunday is set for November 2, 2014. You can direct your gifts to our Finance Office with the memo line, ARISE AND BUILD. If you really want to give early, we'll let you.

What if I just want to pay toward the debt?

While we agree that debt retirement is a priority, this campaign is not one made of parts, but a single campaign with a single goal: to enable and equip First Presbyterian Church of Orlando to be a city-center church in this next season of ministry. One campaign. One goal. One vision. If we only pay off the debt and fix our infrastructure problems, not one person's life will be changed. We want to be ready for the future God has put before us. 

Debt is our first priority in the campaign. After that, the Session will determine the order of future developments.

Future Immeasurably More gifts (IM) will be directed to the ARISE AND BUILD Campaign.

Will my/our gift be kept confidential?

Absolutely. As with all financial matters at the church, your commitments and gifts are treated with respect, privacy and professionalism. We continue to engage an external accounting firm to conduct an annual audit of the church’s financial practices and records, and they consistently report our audit as “clean.” Knowledge of your specific gifts is limited to our Finance Office.

What are the specific ways I can give?

Our Give page outlines the details. You can give cash, online recurring credit card, ACH (automatic withdrawals from your bank account), mobile giving, or by check. Alternatives to cash donations have ranged from gifts of appreciated stock and real estate trusts, to specific items like cars. Please contact our Church Business Administrator, James Hendrix at 407.423.3441 for more information about non-cash gifts.

How long can I spread out the payment of my pledge?

The plan for the campaign is for payment of commitment gifts to be complete within the next four years. We are excited, however, to see how God will move within our church family to see the debt paid off before that time and celebrate our next steps together.

Who is on the campaign team?

Jenie & Alan Kolar
Dottie Clendenin
Billy Palmer
Steve & Rose Cahill
Darrell & Meredith Carpenter, Jr.
Phyllis Fuller
David Swanson
Case Thorp
James Hendrix
Lori Needham
Paige Ragan
Don Goehner

Who is Don Goehner?

Don Goehner is the founder and CEO of The Goehner Group, a church consulting company that works with churches to help them identify needs, solve problem areas, create vision, find leaders and raise the funds to achieve that vision when ready. Don was also our consultant on the Immeasurably More Campaign, so with his 40 years of experience, our team is very comfortable with his approach and leadership.


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