January 2019   

Stewardship & Capital Campaign News for January 2019

Because so many members and friends of All Souls have joined us since our last capital campaign approximately 12 years ago (which made possible moving from our former church home on Huntington Street to our current Jay Street setting), many of us are new to the several moving parts involved in a building project as it evolves from conception to reality. So, in the next couple of paragraphs, I thought it would be helpful for both long-time as well as more recent additions to All Souls to recount how the various pieces or phases of the capital campaign, final program design, financing, and construction -- fit together.

The first step, program design, was initially completed a couple of years ago by architect Dan Glynn based on feedback, findings, and recommendations from the congregation. We outlined for him what we thought were the major shortcomings, expected needs, and future aspirations for our building. Dan, in turn, translated our feedback into an initial program design. Conceptual-level drawings, a video, and a miniature model were produced to illustrate the proposed scope of work: in short, “the project”. This past summer, that 2015 program design was updated to reflect recent developments at All Souls including changes in our staffing, our vote to become a Sanctuary Congregation, the need to secure more appropriate space for our youth, and our desire to incorporate “green” principles in the eventual design and construction.

As I write this column, the next step, cost estimation by a professional cost estimator, is nearing completion. We know what we would like to accomplish, and we know what the estimated cost was in 2015, but it is essential to update those estimates to account for changes since then in the cost of construction materials, labor costs, and any new regulations. Suffice to say, without having good data about the true cost of the proposed project, it would not be possible to continue to the next step, financial feasibility.

To determine whether the proposed project or program design is feasible, we have hired an experienced consultant, Barry Finkelstein, to conduct a financial feasibility study. In January, Barry will interview a cross section of 32 Souls to gauge their respective levels of understanding of and support for the program design. Based on the results of these confidential interviews -- and his experience working with dozens of UU congregations -- Barry will extrapolate from this sample how much the congregation is likely to raise in additional fi-nancial commitments over a 3-year period to realize the proposed project. If the results of the financial feasibility study – are reasonably within range of the updated cost estimates for the proposed project, then we will move into the capital campaign. If the feasibility study suggests we will fall short of the latest estimated project cost, then we will return to the Congregation with potential modifications to the initial scope of work. To state the obvious, our financial capacity, cost estimation, and the project design must be closely aligned before we undertake the next phase, the capital campaign. During the capital campaign, visiting stewards – fellow Souls – will meet one on one with other UU members and friends to learn of our collective willingness to commit the financial resources required to realize the proposed project (modified or reaffirmed, depending on the results of the feasibility study).

At the end of the capital campaign, we will once again take stock to examine the results of the feasibility study in relation to the findings of the visiting stewards. Do they closely match? If yes, then construction-level drawings will be readied, interim (also known as construction) financing will be arranged, and a temporary location for All Souls during the estimated 6-8 months of construction will be secured. If there’s a discrepancy between the feasibility study and actual commitments secured during the capital campaign, we will again return to the program design and adjust, as needed, before going forward with generating construction-level drawings and securing construction financing. It’s worth mentioning that as with approving the program design, any long-term borrowing will also require an affirmative vote of the congregation before proceeding further.

Beginning the renovation of and addition to our Jay Street building (and relocating to a temporary facility during construction), is the final step in this iterative process.

Here at All Souls, we celebrate the cycles of our congregation’s life. We celebrate those who have come before us and who did the hard work of laying the groundwork to make this a welcoming, vital congregation that has an impact on our community and our world.

Here at All Souls we practice the art of community where each person’s gifts of time, talent and treasure are important and essential and cherished.

Here at All Souls we find a way to support not only those who are here now but also those who will be here tomorrow.

Here at All Souls we plan for tomorrow because tomorrow is as important as today.

Here at All Souls Sunday attendance is robust, Sunday School classrooms are full, and we have programs and community engagement in all directions.  

Here at All Souls we are linked together you and I, to All Souls’ past, to its present and to its future.

Questions? Tom Lescoe at or 413-824-7688 or Henrietta Mountz at or 860-339-5178

In faith, Your Stewardship Team