February 7, 2024
As we move forward in planning for our new building, the sale of our current church, together with the Capital Campaign, are important in determining a budget for the new building. The Board and the Building Our Future Team want to share that the paperwork to list the current church building was recently signed.  However, our realtor has informed us that the process of selling the current building could be a long one.  For example, if we were to sell the building to someone who wanted to further develop the property, the sale could take up to 18 months before it was finalized.  When we do receive an offer on the building, the Board hopes to negotiate an agreement that will allow us to remain in the building for as long as possible.  The process of selling our current church has just begun, but as more information about the sale of the building becomes available, we will share it with the congregation. 

January 31, 2024
The Building Our Future team has begun gathering preliminary estimates from construction companies to help us in refining our building budget. This is a process that will take several months as we gather and analyze the information that can guide us in the building design process.

July 25, 2023
The Viola Road lot boundaries have been staked and we have a team working on clearing a couple of paths to make it easier to walk. If you plan to walk the lot (before or after the paths are made) please keep the following in mind:

  • Wear good walking/hiking shoes and bring a walking stick. The land is very uneven with numerous holes. Even in this drought, it can get very wet and soggy.
  • Beware of Calcareous Fen. Calcareous fens are rare and distinctive peat-accumulating wetlands. Fens are highly susceptible to disturbance. The soft peat makes almost any activity within them, by humans or livestock, highly disruptive. Click HERE for more information about this protected species as they are one of the rarest natural communities and are threatened.
  • The stakes that are currently on our property mark the property boundaries. Please be aware of these and do not traverse on our neighbors’ land.
  • Be cautious when parking. Much of the upper portion can become muddy with just a small amount of rain. We suggest parking beyond the fire hydrant on the upper level. Do not park on the Centurion Townhome asphalt roads. Park beyond the temporary stakes located on the dirt road leading into the Viola property.

July 5, 2023

Prepare to Share on July 9

You are invited to participate in a congregational listening session conducted by the Building Our Future Team this coming Sunday, July 9 from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm.  All the suggestions and comments will be shared with Locus Architects as they continue the concept design phase of our building project.

There will be four broad topic areas.  All participants will have an opportunity to share ideas on each topic.

  1. A discussion of gathering spaces – how many are needed for the diverse groups and purposes, today and into the future.
  2. Entrances to the building – how many and where best located, as well as a discussion about the use of the property.
  3. Collaborating with community partners – which groups do we work with today and and how might our new building and property enhance those relationships into the future.
  4. Adjacencies – how do the spaces need to flow one into another to best serve our needs and our mission.

To check out the July 9 Listening Session Agenda, click here.

Members and friends are encouraged to complete the online Building Our Future Architectural Design Survey.  The survey will remain open until Wednesday, July 12 at 12:00 Noon.  The brief survey includes a combination of clickable responses as well as open ended questions soliciting input.

With the benefit of the wealth of ideas shared during our years of discernment and even more thoughtful suggestions offered during recent discussions, some ideas have emerged repeatedly.  These “givens” have been shared with our architects.

  • Thoughtful placement of the building footprint on the land, to ease planning for future expansion.
  • Meet or exceed code for ADA compliance & UUA certification; seek SEMCIL advice.
  • Natural light in the sanctuary & throughout the building.
  • Flexible room design for gathering spaces allowing for multiple purposes.
  • Historical items will be moved – organ, seasonal silk banners, stained glass, etc.
  • The Memorial Garden will be moved with thoughtful reflection and respect.
  • An accessible kitchen designed for commercial use, large enough for teams and intergenerational programming, as well as ease of delivery.
  • Sanctuary with sufficient seating for all congregants (at this time)
  • Sufficient parking
  • Meet or exceed code – fire suppression, bike racks, EV charging stations, etc.
  • Green practices
  • Dedicated outdoor space for playground, Maypole, etc.
  • Sufficient bathrooms, exceeding code, including gender neutral facilities & changing stations for infants, children, and adults.

June 21, 2023

Tell Us What You Think

The Building Our Future team needs to hear from members and friends of the congregation.  Share your thoughts about the new property and the new building via an online survey or at an upcoming listening session.

The online survey offers a combination of short and long answer questions pertaining to the general layout, as well as more personal thoughts regarding beauty, design, and future growth. Throughout June and July, the Building Our Future Team will host a series of listening sessions with members of the shared ministry teams to identify design elements.  All ideas will be shared with the architects.  In addition, mark your calendars for time with Locus Architects.

Sunday, June 25 (11:30 am – 1:30 pm): Locus Architects will lead a group design exercise.

Sunday, July 9 (11:30 am – 1:30 pm): The Building Our Future team will model group discussion methods used by Locus Architects at earlier sessions to gather additional input.

Wednesday, July 12 6:00 – 8:00 Family Night for Chalice Camp – families will have the opportunity to participate in a listening session led by Building Our Future team members.

Sunday, September 10 (12:30 – 2:30 pm) Locus Architects will share preliminary designs and physical models.

Even knowing that not every idea may be feasible whether due to space, or design, or cost, this is still our time to dream.  Share your vision for our new church home.

Green Team Update:
  • The survey work delineating property boundaries will be completed by the end of the month.
  • Once this work is completed, two paths will be created on the property: one around the perimeter and a second shorter path on the north side of the property.
  • Tours of the property will be offered sometime this summer once the paths are completed The paths will also marked if congregants want to walk the property themselves.
  • If you do visit, please park on the site, west of the fire hydrant, not on Centurion Drive (it’s a private road).

June 14, 2023

Engineering Firm Selected

In late May, the Building Our Future (BOF) team released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for land surveying, development planning, and civil engineering services.  These services are required by Rochester Community Development and needed by Locus Architects.  The entire 40+/- acres of our Viola Road property will need surveying, as well as topographic mapping for approximately six acres including site analysis for an approximate 18,000 square foot building and development planning, a grading plan, a stormwater management plan, utility design, and layout for approximately 120-150 spot parking lot and a private roadway.

After a review of proposals submitted by the required deadline, the BOF team recommended that the Board engage Minnesota based Widseth.  We anticipate that Widseth staff will work well with all personnel and there may be a possibility of some cost savings with a portion of the work performed by UU members.

We had already completed several research tasks including:

  1. Decorah Edge Wetland Delineation
  2. Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
  3. Geotechnical soil exploration; and participation in a
  4. Pre-development meeting with the city planning department.

May 17, 2023

A Purchase and Designing Our Future

We are happy to share that on May 10, papers were signed for the purchase of the Viola Road property and that the property was purchased for $450,000. This property offers so much potential to our congregation as we begin dreaming about our future together.  Now that the papers are signed, it’s time to get to work!

The Property Team continues their work on the pre-development process and gathering information about what we need to do to prepare the building site. There is much that needs to be done in preparation and this involves many hours working with city officials and civil engineers.  We are incredibly grateful for the team’s dedication and expertise in this area.

At the same time, we have been working with Locus Architecture to determine how Locus would like to proceed with the design process for a new building.  There will be multiple opportunities for church members and friends to provide input and ideas about the design of our next church home, whether by providing your input through a survey and/or by attending one of several listening sessions designed by Locus to gather the information they need in preparation for the design work.

The schedule for members and friends to offer input on the design of a new building is:

  • Wednesday, June 7: an online survey will be sent to all members and friends via the weekly eNews. Everyone is welcome to complete the survey and share their thoughts.
  • Sunday, June 25 (11:30 am – 1:30 pm): Locus Architecture will conduct a Sunday listening session and lead us through a series of activities to identify important design elements for the new building.
  • Sunday, July 9 (11:30 am – 1:30 pm): Building Our Future Leaders will use the model created by Locus Architecture to conduct listening sessions.  This session will be similar to the June 25 session.
  • Wednesday, July 12 (6:00 – 8:00 pm): Family Night for Chalice Camp – families will have the opportunity to participate in listening sessions during Chalice Camp Family Night.  This session will be primarily for families and will be similar to the June 25 and July 12 sessions.

We hope that at least one of the listening sessions will work for you, but we recognize that everyone’s summer schedules may vary.  If you aren’t able to attend one of the listening sessions from June 25 – July 12, be sure to offer your ideas and input though the June 7th survey.  Locus will be spending late July and August developing a design based on the input that is gathered over the summer.

On Sunday, September 10, Locus Architecture plans to come in-person to present physical models and designs to the congregation.  It will be so exciting to see the plans that are developed from many of our ideas. What a great start to the 2023-24 church year that will be. We’re looking forward to dreaming and designing together with you this summer!

The Board of Directors and the Building Our Future Beyond Ourselves Team

We Voted to Go… Now What?
As you know, our congregation overwhelmingly voted to “go” and explore moving our church to a new site.  Building Our Future is an exciting, but complicated project with many moving parts – much information to gather and many details to consider as we determine the best path forward.  The Board and the Building Our Future team want to keep you informed about what is happening on this path towards a new building, and we will use this space to provide updates.

April 18, 2023
Important Property Update

At the April 12 property forum, the Board announced that two properties remained under consideration for a new building – the donor property and the Viola Road property across from Century High School. The Board also announced that we had approved submitting a “Letter of Intent” that would secure our interest in the Viola property, while we gathered the information needed to determine if we would like to consider purchasing the property.

That same evening, after the forum, we were informed of another, strong offer on the Viola property that came in the same day as our Letter of Intent. Based on congregational input during discussions that have taken place during forums, and because the property aligns with our values, we felt that we needed to do whatever we could to preserve the Viola property as an option. It aligns with our values of inclusion and justice because of its easy access and visibility. It also aligns with how we value a connection with nature as this property offers the potential of preserved wilderness. After much back and forth in negotiations with the realtors, it became clear that the church needed to submit an actual purchase offer in order to preserve the Viola property as an option for us. We decided to do so, and that offer was ultimately accepted. 

The seller required a quick closing date, so the offer on the Viola property has a closing date of May 10. However, the purchase agreement also includes important contingencies in regards to our concerns about the Decorah Edge that might be present and the impact it would have on our ability to build on the property. The Board and the Building Our Future Team has greatly accelerated our information-gathering process and we expect that we will have answers to most of our questions by the end of April. It is very impressive how much can get done in a very short time when you absolutely must do so!

So, what is the timeline moving forward? The Board is recommending the following tentative timeline:

  • Sunday, April 30: Announcement of Board Recommendation for a property vote
  • Wednesday, May 3: Property forum to share information gathered and the rationale behind the Board’s recommendation
  • Saturday, May 6: Options for visiting the Viola property (details to be announced)
  • Wednesday May 3 – Sunday, May 7: Congregational Property Vote (both in-person and online)

This timeline does NOT mean that the Board has selected the Viola property as our property of choice at this time. We are still doing our due diligence to help both the Board and the congregation make the best decision possible.

Please note that the above timeline is tentative, and is based on what we learn over the next couple of weeks. This has been a quick-moving and evolving process, but this timeline is our best guess at how things will progress.

As we move forward together with our decision-making, let us be inspired by the words of Jan Richardson:
We know the journey only by stages as it opens before us;
when the road is revealed by turns we could not have foreseen…
Take the vow the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to the next stage; to rely on more than the map;
to heed the signposts of intuition and dream…

With gratitude,

The Board of Directors
Kim Reid, Paul Trewartha-Weiner, John Helmers, Kim Edson, Brianna Berg, Molly Dingel, Jodi Edmonson, Walt Rothwell, John Tacinelli

April 5, 2023
First Steps!

The core Building Our Future team has been working hard over the past two weeks to gather and distill information that will guide us as we move forward.  Interviews were held with two architectural teams and a recommendation will be brought to the Board for approval. Once approved, we will learn more about the next steps in the building design process. The property team has also been hard at work, narrowing the potential properties to the top 2-3 for the Board to consider.  The Board will be meeting at 4:00 PM on Tuesday, April 11, to visit the top properties, and then return to the church to discuss the properties. Please join us on Wednesday, April 12, for the forum after the Tupper Supper, when the Board will share more about the top properties and provide an opportunity for conversation among members about the strengths/challenges of each the top properties choices.

March 22, 2023

In the past couple of weeks we have slightly expanded the Building Our Future team beyond the original core members, in part to reduce the demand on the original Building Our Future team as the work begins to increase. We have asked a few members with specific experience (i.e. realty, city planning, fundraising, etc.) to assist the original Building Our Future team in these early planning stages.  This week the primary focus has been on identifying possible properties that would best meet our church needs, and presenting that information in two Property Forums (on Sunday 3/19 and Wednesday 3/22).  In addition, the team has been reaching out to potential architects to begin the process of determining which architectural firm would best suit our needs.

We know that many people are wanting to help and to be included in this exciting process.  We hear you! These are still the early days of gathering information and sharing what has been learned with the congregation.  The need for volunteers will increase as we continue to move through this process, and we look forward to including anyone who wishes to help as the process moves forward.  Stay tuned!