Background related to our building prior to 2018

  •  1999 – Major capital campaign (5-plus years in the making: Elevator, coat room, bathroom upgrades added)
  • 2002 – Refinanced mortgage to add almost $50K to cover tuck-pointing and sign for church
  • 2006 – Board study of space needs
  • 2015 – Mini Jump-starter campaign, $150K prioritized for needed projects (exceeded this target); completed projects were: new furnaces in sanctuary, audio system, parking lot blacktop, outside upgrade handrail repair, sanctuary ramp. Remaining funds went to roof repair fund.

2018 activities

  • September – Congregational survey (yielding 204 responses) conducted to get congregants engaged and thinking about our facility
  • People are aware of need for change
  • October – First listening session with congregants through small group discussion
    • Envisioning our space questions
      • What we love and appreciate about existing space
      • Obstacles
      • Space and identity – what our space says about our values
      • Hopes and dreams

2019 activities

  • January —Two additional congregational forums; there were three guiding questions at these listening sessions:
  1. What about our space do you wish to keep the same or at least similar?
  2. What about our space do you want to change?
  3. What is your dream?

Key points from these listening sessions (October 2018 and January 2019):        

  • People are aware of need for change
  • People are open to change
  • People appreciate a place that feels warm and inviting
  • People want to live more deeply into our values of accessibility and environmental justice
  • People want more multi-purpose space
  • People want more light/open spaces for light
  • Church youth said they want modern vibrant spaces that reflect them, with good Wi-Fi and technology

After these sessions, the Board appointed a Building and Visioning Team.  The role of this temporary advisory team to the Board and Minister was to:

  • Visit other UU churches in the area and bring back reflections from their leadership about campaigns, building functionality and considerations
  • Help advise on a process and content to gather information from the congregation and staff through surveys or other means and report those findings to the congregation and Board April- May
  • Requests sent to various churches asking for a meeting/site visit; included was a questionnaire in preparation for our visit. Building and Visioning Team visited 5 new or remodeled churches – UU Church of Minnetonka, Unity in St. Paul, White Bear, Duluth, and Iowa City (virtual).
  • Team requested initial building appraisal of our church from local Realtors Dan and Merle Groteboer.
  • Team hosted four additional forums and listening sessions.

2020 activities

  • Map showing where congregants live in Rochester created by Erika Fetterman of church office and posted to web site.
  • Team met early in year with architectural firm HGA (Joan Sorano and John Cook); could not meet with Locus Architecture (Paul Neseth and Wynne Yelland) until in October of 2020 due to COVID lockdown
  • In the summer our team investigated 9 potential building sites and visited 5 while in concurrent discussions with architects
  • Overview drawings of issues with current church building created by Hanneke van Duersen and eventually posted to web site. Drawings show:
    • Site challenges
    • Capacity challenges
    • Connectivity limitations
    • Accessibility limitations
    • Environmental concerns
  • Made initial contact with Rachel Maxwell, consultant with Stewardship for Us
  • Another update forum held online in November
  • Received a letter from anonymous donors within the congregation of a potential gift of 10 acres of land

2021 activities

  • Team becomes the Building our Future Team
  • Board makes January announcement to congregation about potential land offer
  • We reviewed qualifications and work of 22 architectural firms who had church-related projects.
  • Forum updates held Feb. 17 and 21
  • Building and Visioning web pages created on the church website to hold information for congregants to view, including an area established to field and address questions and concerns by congregants
  • Met with Dr. Jim Maher who headed Autumn Ridge’s building project for a tour and Q & A
  • Team begins to follow building historic designation process more closely; Walt Rothwell joins team and takes the lead in this regard.
  • Ongoing updates with Realtor Dan Groteboer.
  • A number of congregants help clear trails on the potential donation land in preparation for tours by congregants.
  • Work with Rachel Maxwell for a Next Steps Weekend May 9-16. Among points presented in her slide deck:
    • Our church building has reached its capacity.
    • Facilities/building is our top challenge and priority (according to a survey she did)
    • 97% of respondents to a survey she conducted said they would support a capital campaign
    • She urged our congregation to: ease back into being together once COVID allows; visit the potential new site; dream about what could be; talk to one another about the possibilities; develop a 5-year financial plan.
  • Tours of the land offered for donation begin in August.
  • HGA architectural firm toured the property offered for donation.

2022 activities

  • Meeting with Locus Architecture with a focus on remodeling costs of our existing building.
  • The local Historic Preservation Commission votes to remove the potential landmark status from our church building.
  • Board decides to hold first congregational vote related to building issues in January 2023; first of a series of forums held in September.

2023 activities

  • Congregational vote was held January 22-29. This vote provided direction as to whether we explore staying on this property or moving to a new property. Vote results were as follows:
    • Total Votes cast: 278 (72.2% of eligible voters)
      “Go” Votes: 265 (95.3% of votes cast)
      “Stay” Votes: 12 (4.3% of votes cast)
      Abstentions: 1
      These results were confirmed by our Administrators and Board Officers.
      These results exceed the necessary thresholds. The Congregation has voted “GO”, meaning we now deeply explore our options to build or buy new in a different location.
  • April 11, 2023, the Board approved the BOF Team recommendation to hire Locus Architects for conceptual designs.
  • April 17, 2023, the Board met to discuss submitting a purchase agreement for the Viola Rd property and approved this communication to go to the congregation.
  • April 28, 2023, the Building Our Future (BOF) Team and Board unanimously recommend the church complete a purchase of the Viola Road property for our next building location.
  • May 3-6, 2023, a congregational vote was held to YES/NO purchase the Viola Road Property. Results are as follows:
    • 275 members voted, which means that 68% of all members voted. 99.6% of the votes cast were in support of purchasing the Viola Road property, so in this vote, the congregation has approved moving forward with closing the purchase of the Viola Road property on May 10.
  • May 10, 2023 – The Viola Road property purchase was finalized for a purchase price of $450,000.
  • June 7, 2023: Online congregational survey to solicit ideas for the design.
  • June 11, 2023: Held listening session with Locus Architects.
  • June 14, 2023: Hired Widseth, Inc. for land surveying, planning, and engineering services.
  • September 10, 2023: Locus Architects presented first draft of two possible conceptual designs
    to the congregation.
  • September 2023: Solicited input from congregation on conceptual designs.
  • November – December 2023: Worked with Locus to refine the conceptual design.

2024 Activities

  • January 10 & 14 – Held congregational forums for feedback on the revixed conceptual design (rev. 5).