November 6, 2016

Highlights from BFF presentation to congregation, November 6, 2016

As co-chair of BFF, I witness the power of our Beloved Community daily.  I see it . . .

. . . in the strength of our Building For the Future committee,

. . . in the enthusiasm of more than 100 volunteers who have logged more than 20,000 hours of

      work over the past 45 months on this project alone, and

. . . in the astonishing generosity of our members – your support to date covers 98.67% of our 

       building renovation and expansion budget!

And now we have added a fully funded renewable energy package that makes us a national leader among churches.  The result is a truly exciting plan that reflects our values, attracts new members, and creates a church home worthy of our affection. 

And – in case any of you doubted it – IT IS HAPPENING!  Faurot Construction will complete asbestos abatement by the end of the month.  We expect to receive our final permit from the city about the same time which will trigger demolition of Markham Hall and digging the foundation for the expanded Friendship Hall.

Many of you will remember the 2009 Dream Summit where one of our primary dreams was a new facility.  We have come a long way toward that goal.  I believe it is our collective connectedness that drives our success.  It is this connectedness that will carry us across the finish line.  Let’s make the finish a cause for celebration with a fully funded budget!

Where is the finish line?  Well, there are actually two.  The big one is the day we move back into the new building and make it our home again.  That day is roughly ten months away.

The second finish line is the completion of fundraising for the project.  That comes at the point where our budget and our resources are in balance (and stay that way!).  WE ARE VERY, VERY CLOSE!  BFF’s goal is to cross this finish line by mid-December (and then cross our fingers that events beyond our control do not re-set that line during construction). 

How did we get here?  It’s been quite a roller coaster ride.  And, since most of you have not felt the many ups and downs, I want to share the highlights with you.

In August of 2015 – 15 months ago – BFF began developing a detailed budget for the project.  We had rough cost estimates earlier but needed greater accuracy.  Over the next several months, the BFF team moved from estimates to proposals from vendors to specific choices and costs.  We used this updated total as the target for our capital campaign last February/March.

Our first budget balancing point occurred in late March 2016 as we prepared for a congregational vote on the plan and its budget.  By then we knew the results of the capital campaign and saw that we had to eliminate the south addition and reduce several individual items to balance the budget.  This was true even after several of our donors increased their pledges a total of $265,000 at the end of March.  With reluctance and regret, we made the cuts.

By August, events conspired to further unbalance the budget.  A second electrical panel was required, we added an owner’s budget contingency line, our borrowing costs went up, as did the premium for builder’s risk insurance.  Faced with a growing gap, I sought the advice of our lead donors.  I asked them, “Should we reduce our plans or raise more dollars?”  Unanimously they said, “Don’t cut the plans”, and promptly backed that up by increasing their pledges by $170,000.  That almost balanced the budget, BUT . . .

In September and October, as the City considered our application for a building permit, they required us to alter our plans for connecting to city water as well as add a sidewalk along Ash St. which requires cutting down the four mature trees on the east side of the lot and replanting new trees after the sidewalk is installed.  This further unbalanced the budget. 

During this same period, Howard Roitman and I hosted a series of meetings with more of our larger donors.  We asked for their support and they responded with almost $70,000 more.  That makes just over a half million dollars that 18 donors have quietly added since the April vote.

This again brought us close to balance – BUT . . .  we learned yesterday that we are required to purchase and install a new, larger transformer at a cost of $15,000.  That was actually good news since the original cost estimate was $25,000.  AND – we don’t have a permit yet. 

So that brings us to today.  Today, the gap between our plans and the total of your gracious generosity is $62,809 or 1.33% of our budget.   This is what we need to balance the budget (hopefully for the last time).  This final bit is needed to pay for outside work – a transformer, landscaping, the toddler playground, a sign along Hampden Avenue, and re-paving the north parking lot.  Necessary – but not sexy – stuff.  BFF will not take on additional debt.  If we fail to cross the finish line, we will work with the Board and Rev. Shero to decide what gets cut from our plans.

Since I don’t favor cuts, I say let’s “finish strong”!  We can if everyone digs a little deeper – if we all shoulder a small piece of this last bit.  If we all push together, we will finish strong and can be justly proud of our group effort.

Here’s how:

    • A few more of our larger donors are still calculating how they can help.  Their decisions will be critical to our success.
      • Another 231 donors stepped up in February/March and pledged almost $1 million.  We have not yet asked you to do more.  Today I am asking – can you increase your pledge 10% and complete payment by March 31, 2017?  If your pledge was $1,000, can you add $100 to it?
      • You may have heard about the donor wall we are planning.  We’d like to see everyone’s name on that wall.  Right now, we have 107 households who will not be there because they have not yet pledged to the building project.  Today I am asking you to join the rest of the community by pledging $200-500 and paying it by March 31, 2017.  If everyone does, we will “finish strong”.

We can do this!  We are doing this!  One more push puts us across the finish line.  Help us “FINISH STRONG!”  Thank you for all you have done. And Thank You – in advance- for pushing us across the finish line.