It’s an exciting time at First Unitarian. Even though we’ve been socked in with snow for a while, which is getting on everyone’s nerves (though I’m grateful I don’t live in Boston right now!), I can imagine the bulbs and buds swelling underground, and there’s been a lot of burgeoning around the church as well. Arturo is getting some great press about his predicament (don’t miss the Westword article and Amy Goodman’s interview), which we sincerely hope will help his case gain traction. And the Board has been working to realize the ambitious Long-Range Plan we passed last December, and we’re gaining momentum.
As many of you know, we engaged consultant Barry Finkelstein to help us discern whether we as a congregation are ready to take the next step of gearing up for a capital campaign. Barry visited us at the beginning of February and met with a number of church leaders, attended and spoke at the Sunday services, and met with the Board of Trustees. Last week he sent us his report based on his findings. It will be available in this week's FirstAnnounce. Please take a look!
So what was Barry’s conclusion? Basically, he thinks we’re ready to move ahead.
Here’s what he says in his report:
FUSD has numerous strengths and assets that provide a sound foundation for moving toward a successful capital campaign. Among these are a core identify as an urban congregation with a commitment to staying and investing in its current building, a Long Range Plan consistent with that core identity, and strong programs and ministries. While there are challenges to be addressed, these strengths outnumber and outweigh the challenges, and the conclusion of the Next Steps Weekend review is that FUSD is indeed well-positioned for a capital campaign.
Barry was really impressed with our social justice work, just how much we’re doing, and the generally positive and uplifted vibe of our community. Much that is praiseworthy! Give each other a hearty pat on the back (hugs work, too) for all the good work you’re doing in the world and for each other.
The challenges that Barry identified were, as is often the case, ones that are already on our radar. We need to make very certain our financial house is in order, and Finance Council is already hard at work on this. Our data and reporting systems are, shall we say, rather complicated, and Abundance and Finance Council are looking at ways to improve reporting and communication. We will also have a financial audit conducted this year, which will give us valuable information on how our systems are working and how we might improve them.
Another challenge Barry identified was how we will move forward with our Long-Range Plan—not just the building project aspects, but also the many programmatic activities we have laid out. The Board is working on strategies for this. We did a lot of good imagining around what we want our community to look like in the Long-Range Plan; now we need to imagine how we’ll get there from here.
We have also begun to develop plans and a schedule for moving forward with our building renovation and a capital campaign. We hope to be in a position to conduct a capital campaign in the fall. There’s lots to do in the meantime! We are currently putting together teams to coordinate the building project, the campaign itself, communications about the project, and a steering committee to oversee the whole thing.
I want to thank everyone on the Board for the great work they’re doing. I couldn't ask for a better team to work with in these exciting and heady days. Our community is blessed to have them.