President’s Message (edited), May 2019
Tom Miller

I’m writing this article today with two hats on… one as President and the other as member (ex-officio) of the Facility Planning Task Force (FPTF). At the request of the Board and with the agreement of the Task Force members, I want to clear up …where we are with regard to the decision about campus improvements and expansion.

Based on our growth predictions (hopes?), the goal of the Task Force as stated in our Strategic Plan was to work with an architect to design two conceptual plans that could expand our capacity, one for a contiguous facility and the other for a non-contiguous facility. Very carefully, over the last year, the FPTF has, based on input from teams, committees and a large number of individuals, refined initial drawings into the two plans currently on display in Bowman. Each of these plans substantially meets, in different ways, the key space requirements people have identified. The completion of the Task Force’s work will be to conclude, based on as much input as we can get from you, which plan is best suited to our needs going forward. We hope this decision will be made by the end of June.


In fact, I believe we are at least a year away from even starting the conversation about “Should we build?” A lot has changed in the past couple years since we started this process at our Strategic Summit. We have continued to grow. We have also expanded the Sanctuary, created great new office space, improved Bowman some more, and acquired Columbine House. While we still have crowding in Bowman, a congested and busy Sanctuary entrance, and parking lot issues, we are fully able to operate for a while with what we have.

We also, for the first time in my experience here, have hit a plateau on pledge contributions. With the proposed operating budget for next year stretched thin, the Board believes it is not fiscally responsible to begin consideration of a capital campaign. We do believe that the money and time we have spent to get to this point was well worth it. Once we have a decision on which concept best serves us, we will have a very solid foundation to build on if/when we get to the point that it makes sense to proceed. To get to that point, we will need to continue in multiple ways, over time to dialog, explore, and feel the effects of our growth. I believe we will know when the time is right to go forward with building. I know it is not now.

==========  Earlier Entries  ==========

April 2019 –

We now have the revised conceptual plans available for your review in Bowman Hall through the month of April (at least). You will have opportunity to dialogue with the members of the Facilities Planning Task Force (FPTF), who will be available to help clarify your understanding of the presentation boards.  Here’s links to the two plans:

Contiguous Handout.pdf»
Non-Contiguous Handout.pdf»

The two conceptual proposals show how each version (contiguous concept or non contiguous concept) could be staged in phases. The presentation boards also have elevation drawings, to help you visualize the possibilities being described.  Additionally our FPTF team has taken care to define the primary logistical challenges of each phase of the plan, and to describe the advantages and disadvantages of both concepts.

You will be asked to decide which of the two conceptual plans is your preference and to give us a sense of your reasoning for that preference. We have scheduled several discussion meetings. These focused groups will provide a chance to dive-in to more detail on the implications for UUFD operations during construction, and discuss which conceptual plan best fits our needs. This will be an opportunity to voice your concerns or questions more fully, and help us identify issues as we find our collective way to a sound decision. Tom Umbhau of Bauen Group Architects (who developed these conceptual plans) will be on hand at the April 28th gathering.

These meetings for members and friends will be held in Bowman Hall on the following dates:
April 14 Sunday 12:00-1:00 PM
April 15 Monday 6:00-7:00 PM
April 25 Thursday 6:00-7:00 PM
April 28 Sunday 12:00-1:00 PM

The feedback from these gatherings will be compiled with information from the congregation gathered at the less formal Sunday coffee hours. We want and need to hear from you! Please check your calendar for the date that works best for you, and come see us at the display tables in Bowman Hall to sign up. Talk to us or use the e-form below to ask a question or leave a comment.


Mary Ocken and the Facilities Planning Task Force
Trenton Wann, Barbara Hawn, John Redemske, Mary Hockett and Tom Miller

Facility Planning Feedback Form

Use to share information and ideas related to facility planning. Make sure you click the Submit button when finished.

March 2019 – Ideas become vision
News from the Facilities Planning Task Force
Together we work to shape our future.  With the feedback we received from the congregation, the Facilities Planning Task Force (FPTF) has been working with Tom Umbhau of Bauen Group Architects to incorporate your suggestions and ideas, further developing the long range conceptual plans that describe the two possibilities for expanding our campus.
We will have the revised plans posted on display boards in Bowman Hall for your review by the end of March. These two conceptual proposals will also include approximate cost estimates and describe the possible expansion phases.
During this next iteration, you will have the opportunity to identify which plan is your preference (contiguous or non contiguous) and to explain your reasoning for that preference.  All members and friends interested will be also be given the option to engage at length in one of several discussion circles (similar to the discussion groups that formed when we considered calling a minister).
These focused groups will provide a chance to dive in to more detail on the logistical challenges of each plan and the implications for UUFD operations during construction. These interactions will also provide ample opportunity to flesh out your concerns or questions more fully, and identify issues. Once we have chosen which of the two plans best meets the needs we have identified, we will initiate a program to determine if this expansion is the best way to expand our ability to deliver on our mission, and if so, to evaluate the strength of our motivation to build out the campus. As a reminder, Goal 3 of our Strategic Plan is to have space and facility that would support UUFD growth to 250-300 members.
After compiling the feedback from these meetings, the FPTF will meet with Board of Trustees to present their recommended approach, based on their compilation of all previous feedback from the congregation.
-Mary Ocken and the Facilities Planning Task Force
**A special gratitude note goes out to John Redemske who has re-joined the FPTF since Trenton Wann and Barbara Hawn are away; John really stepped up and has been a huge help, along with Mary Hockett and Tom Miller (BOT Rep.) who round out our crew.

September 2018 –


Click here for the “contiguous” plan, in which all facilities are attached to each other.

Click here for the “non-contiguous” plan, in which facilities are separated by walkways.

These are NOT final drawings.  We need as much input as we can get to ensure that a final proposal includes as many good ideas as possible to solve the problems with our facilities that we have identified.  It will also increase the chances for consensus and support should we decide to move forward. Therefore,

  • We are NOT asking for your preference of one plan over the other
  • How does each plan solve / not solve your issues relating to expansion?
  • The Task Force is available on Sundays at coffee time to answer your questions and provide more detailed explanations and background information.
  • On Sundays, fill out index cards with your comments


Our interactions with The Bauen Group Architecture officially began in January of 2018. Working with the Long-Range Facility Planning Task Force, the architect helped establish a structured process to explore our collective needs. Various constituent groups met with architect Tom Umbhau, including the Minister, Board, Sanctuary, Administration, Faith Formation, and general members. These interactive sessions gathered various “dreams, wishes, desires and needs” for decision-making. Sessions were open for anyone and the results from the feedback we received drove the process going forward. We are grateful there was such a high level of engaged involvement; thank you all for your participation so far!


At the ALL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING May 9 @ 6 pm  Bauen Group architect, Tom Umbhau presented the first round of conceptual diagrams to all interested. Constituent groups and congregants are encouraged to listen to a recording of that session and take a look at the handouts that were distributed:

Tom Umbhau, audio of 05/09/18 meeting»

1. B&G.pdf
2. Fellowship.pdf
3. FaithFormation.pdf
4. Sanctuary.pdf
5. BOT.pdf
6. AtLarge.pdf
7. Admin.pdf

The Facility Planning Task Force would like to thank everyone that responded to the initial questionnaire we posted (either individually or through a committee).  In all we received 47 distinct submissions, and with those that responded as part of a group, we estimate that (in total) approximately 80 members and friends of the Fellowship spoke up about the hopes and dreams we share.

Feedback is STILL welcome, if you have any additional comments or suggestions please submit them using the form above.

The initial questionnaire responses have been shared with architect Tom Umbhau of Bauen Group, who will engage with the entire congregation again on May 9th at 6:00pm when he presents the first round of conceptual diagrams.  Congregants and constituent groups will have an opportunity for another round of inter-active dialogue with the architect, in late May.

Alice Mann is best known for her book  Raising the Roof  which describes the stages of growth that congregations experience.  We match her description of a “…congregation that is experiencing some pressure from [our] community [and cultural] context to grow.”  Mary Ocken gave a pulpit-talk on April 8th, providing a overview of this helpful book and highlighting some of the insights within.  You can find a link to the sermon HERE». As we are called to expand our walls, Mann invites us to consider that “It may be right for us to step up to another scale of ministry, for the sake of our Purpose or Mission.” This is a great reminder that our intentions and our facilities are the vessels that support our living faith and help us to bring our mission to life.

If you have questions about the process or further comments, you are welcome to offer your input. To continue the dialogue, ask a question or respond to the process thus far, come to a constituent group meeting and/or fill in the form below and click the Submit button or contact any member of the Facilities Planning Task Force.


Facilities Planning Task Force members:

Mary Ocken (chair)

Trenton Wann

Barbara Hawn

Mary Hockett

Tom Miller (as board representative)

As we explore our growth options, our job now is to seek more information, further identify our Fellowship needs, and chart how we might meet the changing needs of our seams-bursting campus.  This exploration will focus primarily on where we likely need to expand to meet growth demands 5-20 years from now; and may be actualized in a “phased-in” manner.

THE GOAL. For this long-range work more specifically, we are trying to better describe two possible options:  ONE concept is a dispersed campus, using existing buildings, or expanding the ones we have with stronger connectedness. The SECOND concept is of a consolidated facility which unites all campus functions.