Withdrawal from Endowment Fund for Accessibility Project approved

Church members present in person and by proxy at a Special Congregational Meeting on Nov. 6, 2022 overwhelmingly approved the following proposition:

Shall the Board of Trustees be authorized to withdraw up to $100,000 from the church’s Endowment Fund to complete the current accessibility project that includes installation of an elevator, and shall the board be mandated to reimburse the Endowment Fund to the extent that pledges and other contributions and grants are later received for the accessibility project?

After the vote, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon reported on the status of the project. She said painting and flooring work is about 80% complete, and work is progressing on preparing for installation of the elevator. The elevator is scheduled to ship on Nov. 28, and it is hoped installation will be finished in December.

Before the meeting, Treasurer Christine Heath and President Melissa Bedford provided the following information:

We are pleased to inform you that we have raised pledges for all but $30,000 of the $545,000 needed to complete our accessibility project.

Here is how we plan to pay for the rest: 

  1. Due to rising interest rates and falling market values, our Investment and Endowment Committee and Board of Trustees deem it wisest to use our Endowment Fund to bridge the gap in funds as bills come due, rather than pursuing a bank loan.
  2. The board will be asking you, the congregation, to vote to allow us to withdraw up to $100,000 from our endowment to complete payment for this project. This is because some of the money pledged to the campaign will not be received until next year.
  3. Of the maximum of $100,000 to be withdrawn from the endowment to pay for construction, the board hopes to be able to reimburse $50,000 to $70,000 to the Endowment Fund, depending on how many pledges are fulfilled and whether additional contributions and some small grants are received.
  4. The vote of the congregation is required for any withdrawal of principal from the endowment.
  5. The board is clear that this use is consistent with the expressly stated purpose of the endowment in the Investment and Endowment Policy on both counts, given that the funds will go toward capital needs consistent with our principles and furthering our mission of radical welcome AND given that it is most prudent in this financial climate to avoid a bank loan in service of the long range financial health of the congregation. Here is the language from the policy: 

The purpose of the endowment fund is to assure the long range financial future of the church and to fund capital needs and special projects that are consistent with Unitarian Universalist principles and further the mission of the church.