The church blogger: Why is a capital fund so necessary at this time?

Published by FirstUUAdmin on

by Colleen Appel and Bob Eckels

Every week, you hear from two people with a heart for fundraising. Emily Jamroch and Roberta Weeden have big plans for growing a capital fund. Currently, the envelope wall and the Coins for Change are bringing in money. But why is a fund so necessary at this time?

I spoke with Bob Eckels, the chair of the Buildings and Grounds Circle, about what First UU needs to spend to maintain our facilities. We are so fortunate to have him in that position. He brings years of experience as the Director of Facilities Management at Missouri State University to his job at First UU.

There are a total of ten air conditioning units that service various areas throughout the church. Most of them were installed in the mid 1990’s; this certainly improved the comfort level during the warm part of the season, but it also allowed the church to hold services in the summer. (The current building was constructed in 1984 without AC.) Seven of the ten units are approaching 30 years of use. This is actually good news, because if you keep up with suggested maintenance, the average life expectancy of commercial HVAC systems is only 15 to 20 years. But replacement of these air conditioning units is expensive, and when they fail in the near future, they must be replaced to allow our many activities to continue to be offered.

Envelopes attached to the main hallway of First UU. The envelopes are in the shape of a pyramid.

Four units are assigned to the sanctuary, and two of them have been out of service for about ten years due to lack of funding. This has gone unnoticed by the congregation, because we have been fortunate to get by with marginal cooling. Throughout this time however, it has been a bit risky in that there has been no backup cooling.  If we should have another year of record-breaking 100 degree plus days, as we did in 2022, and our working units fail, we will have to talk about canceling services. As reported in last week’s article, our attendance is growing so church leadership wants to do all it can to avoid that possibility.

Bob and his B&G team have done what they can to control costs. The repair of the two failed sanctuary units was originally expected to be $24,000, but a second bid reduced it to $19,500. 

As defined by Injoy Stewardship Solutions, a church capital campaign is “any kind of generosity initiative that is going to require significant capital to be raised above and beyond regular giving…” For several years, First UU has had a list of items needing to be funded beyond the annual operational budget, but the pandemic and positions on the board being unfilled postponed a campaign. 

First UU has done well at defining and meeting current needs. We can also be proud of the plan that defines our future capital needs including parking lot and accessibility improvements. Now we can be excited that we are at the point of being able to intersect capital funding with our church vision. Fulfilling our mission depends on maintaining safe and usable facilities needed for ministry. Planner, fundraiser, funder — What role can you play in First UU’s growth?