Dear FUMC Members,
Grace and peace to you! We have just concluded a significant phase in our journey together considering the next evolution of our church grounds. In summary – our journey together resulted in high engagement of the FUMC family, resulting in a decision to sell 75% of our east parcels. This opportunity would better facilitate our mission and serve this congregation and future members who have yet to find us. While the deal is negotiated and District and Conference leadership makes the decision on whether to allow the sale to move forward, we want to pause and take time to reflect.
During the past five years, the FUMC Facilities Planning Steering Committee has evaluated our ministry and financial needs. Discussions about capitalizing the parking lot parcels at 22nd and J Streets have been ongoing for multiple decades. The potential infusion of capital from a sale of some of the parking lot parcels, invested wisely in our campus, can help our church family and mission thrive and grow.
In 2017 the Facilities Planning Steering Committee conducted a church-wide survey to inform our work. Following a request for proposals in November 2017, the Church partnered with StoneBridge in 2020 to evaluate and provide financial and development proposals to FUMC for use of the parking lot parcels.
During 2020, our year spent together while apart, your Facilities Planning Steering Committee continued to meet monthly, then weekly to ask questions and analyze this major decision before the life of the church to inform the congregation. Stonebridge and the Facilities Planning Steering Committee members met with church members, hosted a series of congregational meetings, all leading up to the time to hear direction from the congregation.
We are grateful for the many members of the congregation who engaged in this discernment process, be it participating in a survey, to attending one or multiple discussions.
Throughout a series of three discernment meetings in January 2021, we took extra measures to assure the process was as inclusive as possible. Laura Reed printed copies of the presentation and personally delivered them to our members who found navigating technology a challenge. We provided a process during the final meeting to assure the feedback captured during the zoom poll was not limited to one per computer, rather one per member. As a result – the FUMC family showed up and engaged in the process!
Traditionally major decisions by United Methodist Church congregations are conducted in person at a set time. That time sometimes doesn’t work out for members of our church family due to work schedules, childcare, or other life commitments. The general guideline for critical mass in UMC decision-making is 20% of the average Sunday worship attendance. Our pre-COVID Sunday attendance was 125 people. At our decision-making meeting, 48 members chose to engage in the voting process. That’s 38% of our Sunday Worship – nearly double the expected level of engagement. We are grateful to those who were able to share their time and feedback with this process.
Of the 48 participants, 52% have attended FUMC for more than 20 years! 23% have attended for 11-20 years, 23% for 5 years or less, and 2% were 6-10 years.
We then conducted a poll on what could be considered a “Primary Election” of the Sale options. When asked which of the two sale options were preferred, 53% preferred to sell 75% of our east parcels (72-unit $1.65M option) and 47% preferred to sell 50% of the east parcels (52-unit $950k option).
We then conducted a poll on what could be considered a “General Election” of sell 75% of the east parcels (72-unit $1.65M option) or do not sell. 63% voted to sell, 38% voted to not sell. The congregation expressed similar support for the 52-unit option, but showed a bit of a preference for the 72-unit option.
While direction was clearly provided by a highly engaged congregation, the process to a deal is not yet complete. We are awaiting decisions by District and Conference leadership, and a successful negotiation. In addition, some FUMC members may still have outstanding questions. If you have remaining questions about this project, please submit them to Mary Meister and the team will reach out to you!
We are grateful for all who have engaged with this process. We look forward to continuing our life together as a faith community, and taking steps to enhance the Welcoming nature of our facilities to share our mission with more members of the community.
Blessings to you,
The Facilities Planning Steering Committee