sheltering the faith

 Contents: UU World Back Issue

New construction for UU churches

A new steeple for First Parish, Unitarian Universalist, in Lexington, Mass., was lowered into place November 16, 2004. The former steeple, which was built in the 1870s, had been damaged by powder post beetles and more than a century of New England weather. The new steeple, which cost $477,000, is an exact copy of the original, a requirement of the Lexington Historic Commissions District, a group charged with preserving the integrity of the town's historic architecture. The 135-foot steeple is one of the tallest in New England.

The UU Congregation of Santa Rosa, Calif., has renovated a movie theater multiplex in downtown Santa Rosa as its new home. The 265-member congregation had outgrown its former building in a rural area and had been looking for new quarters for two years. The congregation bought and renovated the theater for $3.75 million. The largest theater in the former complex is now the sanctuary, and two of the smaller theaters have been combined to create a courtyard. The other theaters have been converted into religious education classrooms. The project was financed by the sale of the former church building and an ongoing capital campaign. One congregant has put up a $1 million matching grant. The new church was dedicated on September 26, 2004, with UUA President William G. Sinkford as guest speaker.

The 300-member Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, Ill., held a rededication ceremony for its newly renovated building on October 24, 2004. Built in 1843, the building is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The $250,000 renovations, part of a plan to restore the building to its original appearance, included rebuilding the bell tower, reapplying lime-based stucco on the bottom of the building's walls, and painting the trim its original color. The rededication ceremony was part of a series of events kicking off a three-year capital campaign.

After 20 years as tenants, the 39-member Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Dubuque, Iowa, bought its first church home in September. Built in 1885, the dark red brick building is a rare example of Carpenter's Gothic architecture. The building has a sanctuary seating 120 with a fellowship hall and nursery in the basement. The corner lot includes a parsonage built in 1905 that the fellowship uses for religious education and office space. The property cost $160,000. The congregation raised $63,000 in a capital campaign, and many members made commitments to double their pledges in the next two years.

The 40-member Unitarian Church of Underwood, Minn., received an unexpected bequest from Frances Ellison, a longtime member, who died last year leaving the church $480,000. The church has used $180,000 of the bequest to finance a 1,200-square-foot expansion of two floors. The church's main door was moved to the basement level and an elevator was installed to make the building universally accessible. The renovations were completed in January. Built in 1889 by Norwegian immigrants, the building was used first as a union hall. Services were conducted in Norwegian until 1920.

The 220-member Boise Untarian Universalist Fellowship in Idaho recently completed a $700,000 expansion and renovation of its existing property. The expansion, which incorporated green building principles and products, created six new religious education classrooms, a library, an expanded sanctuary, an expanded kitchen, new offices, and two vestibules. The upgraded facility wraps around a newly landscaped 11,000-square-foot courtyard, and 3,000 square feet of new garden beds showcase native and drought-resistant plants. Members and friends of the fellowship contributed more than $420,000 in pledges to the project, in addition to several large donations, including a $64,000 donation for new structural steel in the building.

 Contents: UU World Back Issue
UU World : 50

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