Let your building speak for you

Congregations interested in clearly communicating their values and mission to guests and others will want to  read a recent post by the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein on her blog, PeaceBang. Weinstein describes a visit to the Countryside UU Congregation in Palatine, Ill.

Starting with prominent exterior signage, neatly arranged informative bulletin boards, and interior signs that make it clear where people need to go, Weinstein congratulates the congregation on ably communicating “congregational vitality and purpose.” She writes that, without speaking to anyone, she “learned a ton about the congregation’s values and general health. The building itself communicated the congregation’s purpose in existing.”

Weinstein especially noted the presence of major areas of ministry—worship, study, foundations (stewardship and legacy), and kinship—communicated through prominent wall displays. She writes that “the visual consistency across the space announces that these areas of programmatic interest are all elements within one integrated system. That’s important and impressive.”



New building made possible by recycling, volunteers

When the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene, Ore., went in search of a new building for its growing congregation, it wanted to make sure that its move upheld its green values. Long story short: The congregation bought a Scottish Rite building, then deconstructed the interior.

In the process it recycled 75 to 85 percent of the waste, according to Ed Zack, volunteer project manager for the congregation. That included removing and stripping wiring to resell the metals, salvaging thousands of board feet of oak flooring, finding a buyer for 140 theater seats, and dismantling a fire sprinkler system so its parts could be used by a contractor to install a new system.

The congregation estimates it saved more than a half million dollars through its recycling efforts. More than 150 of its 350 members worked on the site, including a crew that provided snacks and cooked for the volunteers and hired contractors.

The building itself was made energy-efficient with better insulation, lighting, and 43 skylights with louvers to control the building’s temperature. A more complete article with photos is at KVAL.com.



Small Texas congregation finds a way to build

From May’s InterConnections feature story, now online at UUA.org:

For years, the Huntsville, Texas, Unitarian Universalist Church held its services in a local hospital chapel. The congregation has been meeting since the early 1980s, but now, finally, it has its own building.

“We’d talked about a building for years,” says member Lee Stringer, “but it never happened. Finally, in early 2009 we overcame the objections and fears of those who had been opposed and we held a vote. It was 17-3 in favor.” Construction began within weeks.

The congregation held its first service in the building on February 14, 2010. And with the new building came other changes. Immediately there were visitors every week, says Stringer, chair of the Building Committee. “At the chapel we might have had one visitor a quarter. The membership has grown from 28 to 34 members. People in town know we’re here now. This has given us visibility.”

Go to the full article.