Our story includes steps of various sizes. Some were small and some were big.
Home 95 was the name given to our first building project. One member for the Home ’95 kickoff campaign said: We are building “A central place for the meeting of minds and melding of hearts; a staging base for action to build a better community, not an end in itself but a means to the fulfillment of our covenant.” Two years later, in January 1995, more than 200 excited congregants walked from their most recent home at Clara Baker Elementary School to their new home at 3051 Ironbound Road.
Then, we renovated Fahs and purchased Parker. Even with these changes, there was always the understanding that our home was not complete. Franz Gross helped to author a report in 1993 that said the Fahs House space which will be available is something the congregation can Live With but probably not Grow With.”
In the years that followed, we took many small steps. However, few resulted in action.
- In 1997, we prepared a detailed vision of what WUU would look like In 10 years. In that picture our campus included the addition of a 2-story Religious Education & library wing.
- In 2002, another report said that WUU would have a growth of membership, resulting in the construction of a religious education wing & a social hall.
- In 2006, a report said: “WUU needs better facilities, particularly for Religious Education.
- 2 years later, an exercise gave the highest ratings for physical expansion with a variety of classes and services offered. As one congregant said, when we came to WUU we were told that we would soon have more space, now my children are leaving home and they still don’t have that promised space.
In 2009, WUU moved to Step 3. The Leadership Team, formed a committee to “collect information and develop a process for expansion funding.” Their report said “We are in a crisis on space! Our WUU mission is endangered. The Sunday Service itself is served but not the activities surrounding it.” Their work still serves as our most comprehensive report on the severity of the crisis and it detailed recommendations about the next steps. In its role as congregational visionaries, the Board took several preliminary steps before we could move in a definitive way to Build Our Future.
- UUA consultant Reverend Trica Hart met with congregants and leadership groups to assess our readiness to address these needs. She made 4 recommendations, including dreaming, strategic planning, staffing research, and stewardship.
- The Board initiated a stewardship charter and began work on the Strategic Plan in 2011 and in 2012, it appointed the Building Our Future Steering Committee, chaired by Les Solomon, with members Linda Lane-Hamilton, Roger Guernsey, Tracy Lord, Dave Neiman and ex-official member Jennifer Ryu.
Two major projects were completed in the Building our Future process to help us determine our priorities:
• More than 20 visioning circles were held in 2013 with congregants and friends where two questions were asked:
- What is special or meaningful to you about the current WUU campus and facilities that you might want to see either preserved or enhanced?
- In the next five years, what changes would you like to see that would help WUU function better? What will WUU look like–inside and out? How will this changed space enhance our congregational values and mission?
These visioning circles resulted in comprehensive report to the congregation in the Fall 2013 (See Archives). In early 2014, the Guernsey Tingle and the Design Team conducted a kickoff meeting with 30 WUU leaders and six focus groups with almost 50 WUU members and friends. Groups targeted included: Leadership, Education, Campus, Office and Administration, Outreach, Sanctuary/ Music, and Food Services. The summaries from these meetings provided the basis for the both the Design/Build Team and Guernsey Tingle to begin the design of the Master Plan that showed the recommended phases.
Milestones for the entire Building our Future 2016 program include:
- Board approves BOF charter and forms Steering Committee
- Visioning Circles held & summarized,
- Congregational vote to move forward,
- Bill Clontz (UUA consultant) hired to advise on Capital Campaign
- Guernsey Tingle Architects selected,
- GTA conducts focus groups and prepares Master Plan, including 4 phases,
- Financial Feasibility study completed,
- Capital Campaign kick-off
- Capital Campaign completed,
- E.T. Gresham Contracting hired,
- Finance negotiates mortgage terms
- Congregation approves $2.25M plan with $1.45M from Capital Campaign and $0.8M from Mortgage.
- SOULS (save our unique little sanctuary) raises more than $90K
- The Southeastern District’s Chalice Lighter program announces $21.4K grant to help fund the Capital Campaign and related development work
- Ground breaking set for September 20