- How was the scope of this project chosen? Beginning in 2017, we began a process of Visioning that resulted in the Renovation of our Facility as being one of the high priorities we needed to focus on in the next five years. Along the way, we were clear that any physical improvement we needed to make to our buildings must match the ministry vision we have committed to. We started with a long list of needs, desires and then began to compare and assess them as to the two biggest priorities we identified: potential life transformation and probable cost.
- How long will construction take to complete and when will construction start? Construction can start as early as Spring 2020, but will largely depend on when we have the funding ready and available to pay for initial construction costs up front, along with securing our loan. When it begins, construction is projected to last six months, depending largely upon the weather and other factors.
- Can this be phased in-what are the priorities? Yes, it can be phased. To date, we are attempting to move forward in faith, assuming that the whole project will be able to be accomplished. Priorities will need to be decided by Church Leadership if the appropriate amount is not raised to fund the whole project.
- How will this affect our existing kitchen? Kitchen is not included in the current plan. Hopes are we can partner with the Day School to help fund this as a special project in the future.
- Is there going to be a bridal room? What about an elevator? Not in the proposed renovation.
- How aware is University’s Reno/Finance committees of the instability and possible transitions in the UM church? They all seem to varying degrees aware of what is happening in the General Church because of a commitment we made in summer of last year to uphold transparency and congregational engagement as high principles. In June of 2018, we held a congregational forum to talk about the coming General Conference and the plans that were being proposed. The congregation asked for continued communication and updates, and I have tried to stay faithful to that request through inviting lay reports on Conference meetings in worship, mentioning the changes in sermons and prayer, and giving updates through newsletter and our church’s private social media channel for members. The Finance Committee and Church Council have been given opportunity to ask questions in more than one meeting. I remain committed to creating open channels for communication and understanding of our members related to developments and also the financial implications of our options as we become more clear about the future direction of the UMC.
- Have these committees considered how this instability could affect giving toward the capital campaign as well as sustaining the operating budget in the short term? We have talked about it, both formally and even more often informally. However, not have a detailed plan as to how that potential effect might be assessed, and whether it is even wise at this conjucture to do so. The discernment we are working through presently is this: processes of conversation that might stabilize our key leaders as to clarity on our member’s commitment to the UMC might also be the very conversations that cause more conflict. We are, however, working with our Horizons Capital Campaign consultant, Tom Melzoni, to think of how best to structure the campaign to mitigate any unforeseen consequences of the conversation in the UMC on our local level (doing OneFund for greater flexibility with funds raised,etc.). I am also personally working with Rev. Dr. Craig Gilliam about options to find clarity and build the trust we seek without increasing anxiety in our congregational system.
- Does University’s giving over the last few years indicate an ability to sustain such a project? Yes, our giving over time shows increased capacity and a commitment to maintaining and supporting our connection to the UMC. We have paid 100% of apportionments every year. The dip in pledged giving (*) is explained by three families leaving the congregation because the UMC was having the conversation about a change in our stance on sexuality issues (in response to the forum we held, mentioned above.). We grieve their leaving, but we also have a clearer sense of our rooted donor base as a result moving into a capital campaign year.
UUMC Annual Budget Numbers 2015-2019
2015 $476, 347
2016 $522, 049
2018 $538, 847 *
2019 $509, 854
- What does the finance committee say about the proposed financial plan? Here are some statements from some of our key leaders who have been working in this area for a number of years—Randy Morgan, a former staff member who handled our finances since 2001 and is a life-long member of the church, and George Baldauf, who is a repeat Finance Chair: “The finance committee supports this project and wants to see it to fruition. Having said that, I also believe they want to review the financial plan and assure ourselves that we are being prudent with our borrowing and our subsequent loan repayment amount to be absorbed in the future budget. We tend to be risk averse, but also are looking forward to this next phase of ministry for UUMC.” – George Baldauf, Finance Committee Chair
“I think that overall, the finance committee is ready to move forward on this project. I think that most are just being very cautious and do not want to do more that we can financially afford.” – Randy Morgan, Business Manager
- Who would guarantee a loan for us? We have worked from the very beginning of this process with the Louisiana United Methodist Foundation to decide what our best and most responsible options are in structuring any loan agreements. They will grant us a loan, helping us fulfill a desire to pay down as much principal as possible as fast as possible.
- Do we have other assets we could use for this project? Yes. We are also strongly considering other options we have with our portfolio of assets, such as using a portion of our trust funds, or selling the land adjacent to the north of our property to support this effort and ensure our congregation’s stability in uncertain times.
- Do we presently hold any debt? We are a church that has been blessed to be debt-free for many years. Our people are courageously, but cautiously, attempting to follow God’s call and make the next faithful step in our life together as a congregation.