Growing Into Our Building

Success can be exhausting.

At our October meeting, the Board of Trustees spent time going over some of the new policies, procedures, and costs that our renovated building requires.  We can eat and drink (with care) in meeting rooms but the sanctuary remains ‘Water Only’. We have new responsibilities toward our beautiful landscaping for watering and weeding.  We will need new procedures for arranging chairs that (soon!) replace the stationary pews. We have new needs to maintain and clean the building.

It’s daunting to consider all the changes we need to make. In focusing on budgets, personnel, volunteers, procedures, policies, and the rest, we don’t want to lose sight of the amazing opportunities the renovations have opened to UUFA. We want to make this a success without exhausting volunteers and staff.

Already, the renovation has made UUFA more visible and attracted new people to the Fellowship. Growth in membership often follows a physical expansion and calls us to be especially welcoming and open to people we may not recognize.  

And we have space!  The beautiful, big, and quiet meeting room gives UUFA opportunities for Forums and Town Halls we never could have in the old Fellowship Hall. It gives us a community venue for other meetings as well. That alone is a big change for UUFA. Also…Check out the new Youth area back where the minister’s and administrator’s offices used to be.

The Entry and Fellowship Hall are marvelous! Our first 4th-Sunday Dinner was in a space quite different from before the renovation. Beyond that, UUFA now has a wonderful space for meetings and receptions. I hope you will attend some of the dances and UUFA get-togethers we can now hold in that space.

Then there are the new offices and the sound booth that are much better planned for an electronic age that didn’t exist when the original building was designed. UUFA will be a great place to work and worship!

Finally, there is the Sanctuary. We haven’t seen it all put together at this point, but we are very close. It will be magnificent! One Sunday we can be in rows, the next in circles, the next in a square. The sanctuary adjusts to suit the message of the service and opens us up to things we simply could not do before.

Now… Imagine a couple looking for a venue for their wedding. They may be UFFA members, an ‘unchurched’ couple, maybe an LGBTQ wedding, or a mixed-religion marriage. I checked and most Athens-area churches will not hold weddings in their sanctuaries except for members and ‘frequent attenders’ as one church office put it. They certainly are not ‘open’ to the community at large. UUFA opens our building and our new Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, and Entry make an attractive place for all kinds of events in the lives of our members and the surrounding community.

We all hope for the total success of our expanded vision. Success requires better coordination and expanded volunteer resources in order not to exhaust everyone involved. We depend on each other to step up and make that vision of UUFA’s expanded role a reality among both our members and our community.