OK Folks, the neck of the funnel is here!
For quite some time now, I’ve been talking about preparing for the trickiest part of our facility improvements, a period of time when the space available to our congregation for programming is most scarce. That moment is upon us, it seems. It’s a bit sooner than expected, but as the news of the new schedule for construction has settled in for me, I grow increasingly excited, not just for getting it done (that is really fun to think about!), but also for the opportunity it will afford us for the next few months as we all slide over to make room for everyone in the space we still have.
I have no doubt that some of you are going to hear this news and consider skipping church for the next few months. I hope you don’t! Hop aboard for a congregational experiment that will help us move out into our new space with new ideas of who we want to be as a whole community!
I will return to this post and update details if they change. They have changed A LOT in the past two weeks… and I think it’s helpful for you to be able to find current info, so consider this a place to keep up with goings on! (If you have questions that aren’t addressed, feel free to reach out!)
[As of Tuesday, May 20th, 2018]-
- Construction will begin here at church in the downstairs on JUNE 11th (an adjustment that will allow us to first welcome the Con Tutti Concert on June 2nd before closing off the downstairs.)
- Religious Education programming is now living into our summer balcony plan, which you can read more about below.
- Between now and June 11th, we will continue to have the nursery open downstairs for families of children up to age 4.
- Beginning June 11th, the nursery will be moving to Joanne Connolly’s office which is located just through the door near the choir alcove in the sanctuary (the landing of the back staircase)
- Beginning June 11th, there will be no access to bathrooms in the building until the project is completed. There will be portable toilets located outside the church in the side garden closest to the State St fire. (Our original plan was to have portable trucks- the more civilized option- but the vendors do not have a unit they can spare for the whole summer, so unfortunately, we are going rustic except for a few special event weekends.
- Construction is expected to be completed by September 1st (or sooner!)
- (Scroll to the bottom of this post for some additional background on the capital campaign stuff)
What will Religious Education programming look like?
Start here: I suspect if you have spent much time here at South Church, you’ve noticed that we try to help children and youth feel welcomed and engaged when they are in our sanctuary on Sunday mornings. That is not a new idea, it is a core value of our congregation, and of our religious leaders. Children begin every Sunday in worship at South church, and throughout the year we intentionally program multi-generational services designed for our children to remain in the service for the whole worship. We have activity packs available for children to help keep their hands busy while they take in the sights and sounds of our community in worship together, and during multi-generational services, you might notice a variety of other adjustments: Interactive music (sung in rounds, or incorporating movement), a multi-part story for all ages that offers extra opportunities for children to move, and draws them back into the days lesson in a way that appeals to a range of learning styles. Over the past two years, we have increased the number of times that children and youth have the opportunity to help tell stories, share reflections, play or sing music, and otherwise be a part of creating our worship. All of these strategies help children feel like they belong in our worship space, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that feeling of belonging is important if we want them to grow up and continue to engage in Unitarian Universalist congregations as adults.
The plan: for Religious education for the next few months is all about exploring the ideas in the paragraph I just shared above. At the end of construction, my hope is that we will have learned a little more about the gifts of worshiping together as a whole church, and that we also will have worked together to problem solve some of the challenges.
Logistics: We will be creating a resource area in the open landing outside the balcony, where families can come and chose materials that will help their child engage with the topic of the worship. Children may choose to bring those materials down to the sanctuary to sit together with parents, or they may choose to come sit in the balcony with other children, parents, and RE volunteers and engage with materials in that space. The resources available will change over the course of the experiment, reflecting the worship themes, and keeping fresh options for returning children so that engagement remains high.
For children who do not want to be in worship space, the balcony landing will also offer space to sit and explore, create art, make poems, do some yoga stretches, or read a book.
Essentially, it’s taking pew packs to the next level!
In September: we will have a whole new program space to move back to, and I think this experiment will inspire lots of ideas about what we want our new page to say!
Orientation For Parents and RE volunteers: Was held on Sunday, May 6th, between services (10-11am), an informative place to ask questions, raise concerns, and share ideas! It was followed by a congregational meeting which provided LOTS more details about our whole church. If you would like copies of the materials provided during either of these gatherings, reach out to a staff member!
Orientation for Kids: [now ongoing by balcony volunteers] During the whole class orientations in early may we asked children to share what they like about being in worship in the sanctuary, and what they don’t like so much. I will share that here, just to help underscore how cool I think the next few months will be! Our children are really intuitive, and finding new ways to help them join us in community on Sundays will be a gift to all of us. I need help to do it, but I think it’s gonna be fun!
I will be posting descriptions of volunteer roles, sign up links, and other resources soon. I am always happy to hear thoughts, questions, and especially- Ideas!!
Sending love to all of you!
Some other details on the current construction project (for those who feel out of the loop):
- Our original capital improvement plan to renovate Karnan house (our former building across the street that provided a significant portion of our church programming space) did not go as expected, and the decision was made some time last fall to sell Karnan and re-envision our plan- in large part because the building at #73 Court St became available, offering a different set of opportunities for our community.
- The decision was made to purchase the building at #73 Court St early this year
- Karnan House was sold this winter.
- Originally, our plan was to renovate #73 Court, making it accessible as a second event space, and creating offices and meeting space on the first floor. Then, after that project, the plan was to move the staff down to #73 and begin renovations here at 292 State, transforming what is now office space into three additional program spaces, as well as to beautify/update the social hall, create storage for chairs, and adjust the restroom facilities.
- Due to a variety of complications, which the board will lay out this coming Sunday at the congregational meeting, the renovations at #73 Court need to be put on hold for the moment. However, details are basically all in place to allow us to begin renovations here at the church, so we’re getting ready to do just that!
- Staff offices will be moving down to #73 Court, to set up in the building ‘as is’ (We just can’t use that building as an event space until the second floor is reinforced).