Refectory building would let in light for students dining at Hood

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Hood Theological Seminary is nearing its goal of raising $2.8 million to construct a new dining facility.
“We have been quietly networking with foundations, individuals and friends of the seminary to give us as much as we can to start with,” said Margaret Kluttz, development officer for Hood. “We wanted to prove ourselves and make sure the story was compelling and the needs were of such a critical nature that those people who have supported us in the past would embrace this project.”
More than 80 individuals and churches, as well as numerous local and national foundations, have already stepped up to donate more than $2.4 million toward the 9,034 square-foot refectory building.
The Arthur Vining Davis, Dickson, Dowd, F&M, First United Church of Christ, Ketner Family, Proctor, Blanche and Julian Robertson Family and Woodson foundations have contributed.
The Cannon Foundation recently chipped in with a $100,000 grant.
“We know this last leg is going to be a challenge; the last leg is always the hardest,” Kluttz said. “We think now as we go more public and begin to get a little louder and broader in our efforts, we’ll find the support.”
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Right now, the seminary has a temporary refectory, located in the dining room of the former Days Inn hotel. The seminary moved to that location off Interstate 85 in 2004.
“We knew it was not going to work long term, but due to the constraints in the funding we put our money into offices, classrooms, technology and the library,” Kluttz said. “Every building except that portion of the building has been totally rehabbed and renovated.”
Although the current refectory has undergone “modest renovations,” Kluttz said repairs are starting to become more frequent and costly as roof leaks pop up and problems with the foundation arise.
“We were putting good money after bad into the same issues,” she said.
Another drawback of the current refectory is the lack of a useable kitchen, which means meals have to be catered off site and brought in.
“That’s expensive, and you’re limited in your menus,” Kluttz said.
Kluttz said Salisbury architect Karen Alexander has already designed the new refectory, which will have the ability to double as a multi-purpose space for graduations, convocations and community events.
The facility will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, becoming the first completely green building on campus.
“It’s going to be built with very high-efficiency materials and equipment, so it will be very cost-effective to operate a building that size,” Kluttz said.
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Hood President Dr. Albert Aymer said creating an inviting refectory is important to the mission of the seminary.
“I’ll tell you one of the most important things that you and I and everyone as a family experiences,” he said. “The one thing that draws family together is sitting at the table and eating together.”
Aymer said when people come together in a setting like that, they learn to support, strengthen and challenge one another.
“The refectory becomes that place where, outside of the classroom, we can sit at the table together and be a community,” he said. “Within the context of this community, we learn how to relate to other people with all their diversities, with all of their differences in their social backgrounds, their economic backgrounds, their racial backgrounds and their denominational backgrounds.
“We’re trying to a create a community that transcends the differences that divide people in these types of backgrounds.”
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The refectory is the first in a sequence of buildings the seminary is hoping to construct.
The school’s master plan includes a new chapel and library. After those buildings are constructed, the space they currently occupy will turn into additional offices and classrooms to accommodate growth.
Kluttz said the seminary’s student body has grown from 30 to more than 300 students since its inception.
“(The refectory) represents a major turning point in the success and growth in Hood being able to fulfill its mission in turning out leaders in the faith community that will make a difference in the world,” she said.
The seminary is hoping to break ground on the refectory by the end of the summer.
“We have some more money to raise, but we feel like we have enough in hand that we can get started and bring closure to that fundraising later,” Kluttz said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683. Twitter: