Good news! Denver has provided us comments on our building permit application, some of which are significant. They have asked for changes (not unexpected) and our architect has made revisions to the construction drawings which we hope will address Denver’s concerns and still maintain our project intact while keeping cost impacts down. We resubmitted our revised plans, and the plans have been approved by the Landmarks Commission. (The plans had to go through Landmarks again because some of the changes involved the exterior of the building.) The plans are now with the Planning Department again. We hope to hear soon!
What does this mean for our construction start? If the revised plans are approved by the Planning Department as submitted, we hope to finalize the project budget, close our construction loan and move toward the start of construction by mid to late October. As always, this is contingent on items outside of our control, including how long Denver’s review takes, any comments we may receive from Denver on the revised plans, and the speed with which we can close our construction loan after we have a building permit.
We have arranged a place to hold services when construction is taking place in our sanctuary -- Manual High School. NOT YET, though! We will still be in our sanctuary at First Unitarian until further notice. When we do begin holding services at Manual, we will be meeting for one service on Sunday mornings at 10:00am,
Manual is almost directly north of First Unitarian, at 28th Ave. and Franklin St., in the Whittier neighborhood. You can access the parking lot from Williams St. and from 26th Avenue.
Again, this is just information for future planning. At this time, we are still holding services at First Unitarian.
School starting and the fall ingathering reminds us that it is time to start another church year. With all the uncertainty in our church schedule, the building remodel and Mike’s sabbatical, there is a tendency on my part to hunker down and take a “one day at a time” attitude. But there is also opportunity in this time of chaos to take a close look at what we are doing. What are the key issues to address in our society? How can we as a church make an impact? Where do we want to be in 5 years? I do not have an answer but now is a good time for discussions.
Our Racial Justice project gave us much food for thought in their presentations over the last few months. First Unitarian has an opportunity to lead our local community in shining light on the issues of white privilege and oppression of people of color. What should we do in our own community? Do we want to change our “frame” to be more open to people of color joining us? What mechanism can we use to call attention to local issues of white privilege?
The sanctuary movement continues to need our help. Because our building is not available as sanctuary doesn’t mean the committee has stopped working. I anticipate there will be continued need for volunteers and support for the other local congregations that are protecting immigrants from deportation. I’m wondering if we can advocate for changing immigration law to a more rational system?
We have continued to sponsor homeless initiatives although our volunteers go to other churches during the construction. There have been some interesting initiatives in other cities across the U.S. Can we expand our advocacy to help Denver try some of these alternatives?
When we are out of our building we will be having church services at Manual High School. There is an opportunity to engage in the neighborhood around the school and get a new perspective on the issues that face us. There is an opportunity while Mike is on sabbatical to think about pulling in some speakers to challenge us to rethink our habits and rituals. We have a wonderful, vibrant, and engaged community. Clearly, we do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water. But maybe we do want to take time to rethink what we are doing and where we are going.
You may be wondering what the color scheme of our renovated building is going to be. Wonder no more! Below you'll find photos of color swatches for the sanctuary, bathroom, and kitchen and community room. The photos aren't great, but hopefully they'll give you an idea of what to expect.
The sanctuary colors are a bit more muted than what we currently have and were chosen to coordinate with the existing stained glass windows and oak paneling on the organ.
The colors in the basement aren't going to change substantially.
Big news! We found out today that we have been awarded a State Historical Fund grant! The award is for $200,000, and we are required to match about a third of that. This grant will go toward rehabilitating the exterior stonework. We will know more details about the timing of the work and such when we receive our information packet and outline our next steps. This is fabulous news — we won’t have to wait to give our wonderful old building a face-lift. These funds will also give the building project as a whole a little more wiggle room. Stay tuned to this blog for news on what the building project team puts together. Many thanks to Kathy Cranmer, Karen Derrick-Davis, John Olson at Historic Denver, Inc., and all the other fine folks who worked on the grant application. Congratulations! Visit the History Colorado Grant News site for more information about the grant.
The chairs are on their way to their new home! We say thanks to them for many years of service (and some may say good riddance!)
The following update comes from Marty Dawley. Thanks, Marty!
FUSD's own Movers and Shakers and the Renovators just keep moving along. Hope that everyone gets a look at the new location of our two removed kitchen cabinets along with some removed shelving in the upstairs Spirit Play room. We have Karl and Patricia Jonietz to thank for that work along with the idea for adding in the shelves. Erin Kenworthy has done a massive amount of work on tossing and organizing the RE materials. Whew!
FUSD's rumor mill is correct. Our wood chairs have been sold as have our stage parts. The chairs will be picked up as soon as our purchaser, Tim, from Oregon can fix the transmission on his truck and attempt another trip to Denver. He's planning on a couple of weeks, so he can rehab the chairs before his church opens on August 1. Never fear, we'll have our trusty plastic chairs to sit in until we move out of the sanctuary for renovation. New chairs are already on order for when we move back in. No one has to sit on the floor, but if you are willing and able, be our guest!
Just in case you are wondering, we checked out the price of rehabbing our wood chairs and the cost was similar to buying new chairs. The Building Renovation Team has been doing our homework. Our buyer happens to work for a chair company, so he must be getting the deepest of discounts to make all this worthwhile.
The stage will be picked up around September 1. It will be used for a burlesque show! More details about that later. I think it would be fun to have a group outing to see our stage in action!
Are we having fun yet? In fact, I am. I am again heartened by the good folks I have been working with and our moves ahead.
...to our old chairs!
That's right, our sanctuary chairs' days are numbered. Marty Dawley, coordinator extraordinaire, has found a new home for them. They're going to Oregon, to be refurbished and used by another church that needs chairs for their new space. We looked into refurbishing them, but the cost for putting new cushions on them was as much as new chairs, and they need a lot more work than just new cushions.
So if you'd like to pay your respects, now's the time! If the chairs go before we move to our alternate location for services, we'll use our trusty pink plastic chairs. Here are a few pictures to send off the chairs with. They've served us well for over 30 years!
As we get closer to beginning our renovation, our Homelessness Initiative social justice projects are finding temporary housing elsewhere. Where exactly, you might ask? Read on for details.
Family Promise will be hosted by Grace United Methodist at 4905 E Yale Ave, Denver, CO 80222. Grace UMC is also a Family Promise congregation and will be hosting the families the week before our rotation, so the families get to stay in one church for two weeks. Our next rotation is July 23-30. Contact Mardi Moore for details and to sign up.
Women's Homelessness Initiative (WHI) will be hosted at the Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality at 1400 Williams St., just down the street from First Unitarian. Volunteers are needed more than ever - use SignUp Genius to register.
Our summer Religious Education program has also needed to find new digs for this summer. Imagine Camp, our wonderful Unitarian day camp for rising K-6th graders, will be hosted off-site this year at St. Elizabeth's School, 2350 N. Gaylord St. More information and registration is available on the main First Unitarian website.
It's taken months of dedicated work and countless volunteer hours, but we've finally reached our fundraising goal: $2.4 million! A huge thank you to everyone who contributed, and especially to our Capital Campaign leadership: Stuart Ferguson, Carol Welsh, Robin Reed, Michael Delvaux, Clark Kulig, and Kristen Nadeau; the Capital Fundraising team: Mark Skrotzki, Chair, Mike Cranmer, Stuart Ferguson, Sally Isaacson, Sharon Pressly-Fiero, Susan Robertson; and our Campaign Coordinator extraordinaire, Karen Derrick-Davis.
So let's celebrate! Join us for cake and ice cream after the service on Sunday, May 28, to celebrate this monumental achievement and the unveiling of our official Denver Landmark plaque--and pick up an item or two at the yard sale (everything is FREE).