We Keep On Rising

I have some good news… and a challenge for us to meet! The good news is that things are moving forward with our Accessibility Project as our architects at SOA have helped us put the project out for bid and accept the lowest bid from Septagon Construction!

The challenge we must now meet is one many are currently facing in this economic moment. Since SOA gave us an estimate of the cost of our project in June of 2021 (and as we have been moving steadily forward with our project), construction costs have risen sharply. In June of 2021 we received an estimate of $341,000 for the full scope of our Accessibility Project. By November of 2021 we had raised $400,000 to move this project forward, knowing that costs were rising. Through the winter SOA proceeded with finalizing our scope of work, drawing up plans, pursuing city permits, and putting our project out for bid.

In the end, the lowest bid was significantly higher than the estimate we received in June and even higher than the $400,000 we so faithfully raised. The cost of this project is now $481,000 for the construction alone – not including our already paid architecture fees and project contingencies, which together we budget at around $70,000.

This is bracing news, but our resolve remains firm. Our Board and Accessibility Project Committee have both affirmed that we must move ahead with the project in full in order to fulfill the promise of our mission, and the Board has entered into the construction contract with deep faith that we can rise to the moment.

The difference between our pledged fundraising and our needs is about $150,000. How will we make up the difference? There are several ways: we can borrow money from the bank or from our own endowment, we can and plan to apply for more small grants to help us, and we can continue our fundraising efforts!

I am writing you today about this third option. Our operating budget is tight as a drum due to Covid-era challenges, and it would be ideal to find our way forward without adding a significant debt service payment to our monthly church expenses. Before we go that route, we are coming back to you to ask for your help.

When we launched this campaign I told you about my grandmother, who always had us set a beautiful table with a place for everyone according to their needs and who taught me about generosity of spirit and the blessings of giving. I told you about her pride at my service to this community, and her disability that prevented her from ever seeing the lower level of this church without an elevator to take her there. And I told you that I was donating stock that she bought for me as a baby, so that I could do my part helping to make a place for everyone according to their needs in our beloved community.

I have another story about my grandmother to share with you today. She told it to me every Sunday as we set that inclusive table for Sunday lunch, like a refrain: that when she was growing up on an Oklahoma farm in the Dustbowl amid the Great Depression, she would have to set the table with the plates and cups upside down so they wouldn’t be covered in grit when it was time to eat, and that they often set an extra upside down plate or cup for a neighbor or friend even though their own meal might be meager. “My mother always insisted on hospitality, so she found a way to dig deeper and stretch further” grandmother told us. And so we carry that legacy forward. I still set the table with the cups upside down sometimes if I’m not thinking about what I’m doing, and I make sure there’s always room for an extra spot, even and especially when challenge arrives.

Today I increased my gift to our Accessibility Campaign in grandmother’s honor, and I invite you to consider whether you could do the same in honor of someone in your life who taught you how to keep rising, even in challenging circumstances.

We have the opportunity now to double down in support of this community and in gratitude for the chance to be generous in a way that connects us to one another and to our community. We can keep rising to create a place at the table for all who would join our beautiful potluck of compassion and care.

If you have not already made a gift to our campaign, we would LOVE your support! You can make a first-time gift at https://uucomo.org/rising/#pledge.

And if you’ve already made a gift, we’d like to ask you if you could consider increasing your gift. You can increase your gift by:

Thank you for inspiring me with your generosity, again and again,

Rev. Molly