Capital Campaign Possibilities, January 2018

As you read, please note you can click on most images and boxes to get a slightly larger version!


St. Dunstan’s is a warm, lively Episcopal church whose hallmarks are welcome of all who seek a spiritual home; the nurture of intergenerational community and the active participation of children; the use of art, music, and drama in worship and faith reflection; practicing care of Creation with our church grounds as a resource; and service and advocacy for those in need.

The Process, So Far

In late 2016, St. Dunstan’s began a process of discernment about a possible capital campaign to raise funds to improve our buildings and grounds. Through interviews, surveys, focus groups, and work with our architects and capital campaign consultant, we have developed a vision for our how our buildings could better meet our needs.

Existing Needs

The needs that led us to begin thinking about a capital campaign were matters of repair and renewal, like shabby chairs, stained carpets, a scarred floor, and weather-worn parking lot. The Meeting Room has challenging acoustics and inadequate storage; the sliding glass doors of the nave are difficult to open.  Addressing these and other issues would add beauty and functionality to our building.

Emerging Needs 

As the congregation began to talk together about a possible capital campaign, one core need was named again and again: More space! Our kitchen is cramped, and our Gathering Area doesn’t allow  seated conversation at coffee hour.  The main floor bathrooms are too small for wheelchair access. Limited storage makes it difficult to keep things tidy and organized.  And as we grow, we encounter new space needs – most notably, our packed Sunday school classrooms. In addition to more bodies, we also hold more meetings and events, which leads to frequent overbooking of our meeting spaces.  A member of our Discernment Team who analyzed the results of our Wondering Conversations remarked, “You could sum this up by just writing SPACE on a piece of paper!”

Two Approaches: Expansion and Renewal

To address these needs, we have developed two different approaches at different levels of financial commitment:  Expansion and Renewal. A third set of projects, shown as “Key Elements,” would be considered as part of our path ahead regardless which approach we pursue.  (Therefore, the total cost of the Key Elements is added to the proposed campaign goal for both approaches.) We believe that either of these paths would address our parish’s needs and help St. Dunstan’s become even more, in the words of one member, “a powerful, hopeful place… to be equipped to carry out good work.”


A computer drawing of what the back of the church would look like, if we were to follow the Expansion building plan.

The Expansion option involves making our main building significantly larger, by pushing the east (back) wall and south wall outwards. This would result in a close to 80% increase in square footage across all our frequently-used spaces, like the kitchen, Gathering Area, meeting room, sacristy, and classrooms. The image above gives an idea of what this expansion would look like, if you were standing near the labyrinth behind the church and looking towards the building.

The expansion plan


includes three large classrooms with external windows, storage rooms on both levels, and a large youth room. This floor plan would accommodate us well and give us room for continued growth.  Enhanced access to our beautiful grounds would be created via double doors from the Gathering Area out to a paved patio area, ideal for small outdoor liturgies or for expanding coffee hour outdoors in good weather.

Main Level: Expanded Gathering & Meeting Spaces

Draft floor plan of main level, with Expansion approach. The fine dotted diagonal line is the current back wall of the building.

Lower Level: More & Larger Classrooms, Storage Space

One of our cramped classrooms, in use.


In the Renewal approach, we would address the constraints of our space through renovation and reorganization.

Main building Renovation & Renewal: In our main building, the kitchen and main floor bathrooms would be gutted and rebuilt to make the most of the available space. The two smallest downstairs classrooms would be combined to make one larger room. This plan also includes enhanced access to the grounds by way of a paved patio outside the Gathering Area, making it easy for worship or fellowship to overflow to the outdoors.  We would also replace some existing furniture with furniture that better fits our spaces and our needs.

Parish Center Renovation: The Renewal option includes renovating the Parish Center, the building at the end of our parking lot, and re-integrating it into our parish life.  The building is structurally sound but needs a complete renovation. Work would include opening up the lower level to eliminate a cramped hallway, replacing the 60-year-old kitchen, updating lighting and finishes, and adding a bathroom upstairs to improve comfort and usability.

Architect’s sketch of proposed renovation of the lower level of the Parish Center, to create more usable and pleasant space.

How would we use the Parish Center? In the past, the Parish Center has been used as additional space for St. Dunstan’s ministries in many ways, including parish meals, bazaars, Sunday school, youth group, and storage. Figuring out how to use the Parish Center today, to ease space pressure in our main building, would be a matter for conversation and experimentation. The lower level might be committed to the youth program; the upper level could be an additional meeting and event space. No firm plans have been made. But we need more space, and the Parish Center offers existing space that can be reclaimed and improved at relatively low cost.



These Key Elements each address significant needs or priorities of the parish. Each of these items would be considered as part of our path ahead regardless which approach option we pursue. The Key Elements total $426,000.

Nave Seating  –  $75,000: Replacing the worn and difficult-to-move chairs in our nave  was voiced as a high priority in Discernment. Options include replacing our current chairs with lighter, newer chairs, or with portable pews custom-built for us. One desire people often mention is a room big enough for a large gathering. In fact, we already have a large room – our nave (sanctuary). However, our chairs are difficult to move and take up a lot of space even when stacked.  The portable pews would enable us to use the Nave as flexible space. The  pews are easy to move and stack, so that we can quickly re-configure the nave from worship to a shared meal, coffee hour, or open space. This is especially important in the Renewal approach as a way to make our largest and least-used room more available. We expect to have two sample pews here soon!

Portable pews at a church in London.

Diagram showing portable pews stacked to clear the room, perhaps for a dance or movement class; and arranged for a concert.


Elevator – $230,000: St. Dunstan’s values welcome, accessibility and comfort, yet only the main floor of our building is truly accessible. We could add an elevator that would join all three levels of the building – from the choir loft down to the lower-level offices and classrooms. This would enhance participation opportunities for people with mobility challenges.

NOTE: In December, the elevator was presented as part of the Expansion plan. However, it would be possible to add an elevator in the Renewal approach as well, and we’ve heard significant interest in the idea of an elevator. Therefore, the elevator has been moved to the Key Elements category. The cost for the elevator is estimated at $230,000.

Nave Renovation – $45,000: This estimate includes reconditioning the sliding glass doors on the sides of the nave, for improved function and greater effectiveness in retaining heat. It also includes removing the paint on the nave floor to creating an attractive, durable stained concrete floor; safety improvements on the choir loft stairs and railing; and updating the fireplace.

Parking lot repair & resealing – $38,000: Our parking lot urgently needs repair, for reasons of both safety and aesthetics. We are currently dealing with new holes every year. Ultimately, we will need to fully replace the parking lot, at additional cost, but the full replacement could be put off for a few years.

Improved Stormwater Management System – $28,000: This re-engineering of water flows on our property will both mitigate our chronic erosion problems, and reduce our ecological footprint by filtering harmful runoffs before water leaves our property.

New Road Sign – $10,000: Guests often tell us it’s difficult to find our driveway. Changes to University Avenue five years ago reduced the visibility of our existing sign. This estimate covers a new, lighted sign, with a location chosen to maximize visibility.

Community Pledge – Amount TBD: During our parish discernment, members stated clearly that whatever we do should also serve our neighbors.  While renewing our buildings will help us host community programs, we also plan to commit a percentage of the funds we raise to the community beyond ourselves, to meet real local needs. The percentage and the project would be determined in congregational meetings in the months ahead. Watch for meetings early in 2018!


Our current electric organ may serve us for about another decade, according to a recent professional assessment. Including its replacement as part of a future capital campaign is offered here to determine the shared enthusiasm for this project. This estimate is for a small pipe organ built to fit our choir loft.

Further Additional Possibilities were presented at our December 3 gathering: a full replacement of our parking lot (rather than resurfacing and repair), estimated at $106,000; some modest outdoor improvements estimated at $10,000; and upgrading the Nave floor to include a labyrinth, estimated at $5000. All of these options are still possibilities if funding and interest permit. However, for purposes of simplifying and clarifying our proposals, they have been set aside for the moment. They may be taken up again down the road – don’t be shy about speaking up if one of them seems especially important to you! 



6205 University Ave., Madison WI

St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church