Our facility and our future

On Sunday, Nov. 18 immediately after our 11 a.m. service, the Building Needs Task Force hosted an informal meeting to share information and to give interested members a chance to ask questions and express opinions about our current facility and your dreams for our future together. The team was appointed by the UUCC Board of Trustees in 2017 and charged with the following objectives:

  • Discern the desires of the Congregation regarding changes to and/or expansion of our current church facilities.
  • Research practical solutions to meeting these desires, including the possibility of relocating or adding satellite location(s).
  • Present to the Board at least three well-researched options for meeting the congregations’ aspirations regarding our facilities.

What follows is a brief synopsis of what was presented. Each of you are encouraged to submit your thoughts to the team via the feedback form that is available on the church’s website, or you can simply use the list of questions at the end of this article. The presentation began by posing two questions:

  • Did you know that unlike many churches, our membership has been steadily growing for the past decade?
  • Did you know that it has been two decades since the UUCC has undergone a major renovation/expansion project?

The presentation continued with some of the highlights of our congregation’s history, from its founding in 1951 to purchase of the land and construction of the original church on this property in 1970, followed by the hiring of our first minister in 1980. Our second minister, Rev. Haney, served from 1989-2009. In the 1990s we hired a church administrator in 1992, followed by our first director of religious education in 1995. A major renovation/expansion to this building was completed in 1998. We called our third settled minister, Rev. Molly, in 2012. We added solar panels to the building in 2014 and made other changes to reduce our carbon footprint by more than six tons per year, resulting in annual savings of $2,500 on our electric bill.

At the present time, there seems to be a consensus that there is a need to address some deferred maintenance items (e.g., carpeting, resurfacing of parking lot, two old AC units) along with the long-time unmet need for an elevator. The cost of these items ($130,000-150,000) could probably be addressed relatively easily with a modest capital campaign.

However, our present facility has some additional shortcomings that may limit our growth and our ability to meet our mission and vision for ourselves. Based on our current membership of 280 and anticipated growth over the next decade, it seems likely that our current sanctuary’s seating capacity of approximately 145 seats will regularly be exceeded, even with two Sunday services.

Other important facility shortcomings have been identified by our staff and members, including: The need for more office space and storage space; possible conversion to a commercial kitchen; expanded parking; and expansion in size and number of meeting rooms.

During the Sunday presentation, three options for addressing these facility short-comings were described in a very preliminary way:

  1. Tackle the immediate needs and put off other shortcomings until later.
  2. Relocate to another facility and/or build a new facility at a new and more central location.
  3. Renovate and expand the current facility.

Option 1 would be do-able for about $150,000 and could be completed in about one year.

Option 2 is likely to cost $4-8 million and would require that we find a buyer for our current facility, which is unlikely. However, we plan to have a local commercial realtor keep us informed about potential properties in and around the city of Columbia that might meet our needs.

Option 3, a significant expansion and renovation of the current facility, might be achievable with a $1 million capital campaign along with a $1 million mortgage.

The next step in this process is to work with a local architectural firm to begin a long-range planning process to help our congregation plan for its future. We will also be taking advantage of free consultants from the UUA to help us plot out a responsible path to move forward. We welcome your questions and comments.

Please consider addressing the specific questions below on the church website – Building Needs Feedback Form. Your responses also can be submitted anonymously on paper to the Church Administrator (in her mailbox or under her office door).

  1. How do our current facilities meet your needs? How do they not?
  2. What do you think we need in order to provide the kind of ministry you would like to see?
  3. What do you see as our most pressing building need right now?
  4. How do you think we could enhance our ability to provide a moral beacon to Columbia?
  5. If we were to make changes to our facilities, what improvements would you like to see?
  6. What would you like our congregation to look like in five years?

Respectfully submitted,
Larry Lile, Barbara Rupp,
Kevin Fritsche, Matt Bossaller