Update: Assessing & addressing our building challenges, January 2017

Capital campaign discernment process update: Assessing and addressing the challenges of our church building

An update from Rev. Miranda 

When we first began to talk about a possible capital campaign, the list of needs driving that conversation consisted of some basic repairs and upgrades – new asphalt for the parking lot, new chairs for the nave. Nothing that really required skilled design or oversight to accomplish.

However, as people have begun chatting about a possible campaign and what we’d want to address, some more substantive issues have come to the fore – such as the cramped kitchen and Sunday school rooms. It became clear that we would be limiting our discernment if we didn’t open the door to thinking about more significant modifications that might help our building serve us better.

It was time to talk to an architect, so I reached out to a friend for advice. Bill Robison served with me as a deputy from our diocese to our national General Convention in the summer of 2015. He is an active member of our sister church Trinity Episcopal Church in Wauwatosa. He’s also an architect with the firm Engberg Anderson, with a focus on public buildings like libraries and churches.

Bill told us what the process of assessing our building’s needs and beginning to design solutions look like. And he said that if we were interested, he would very much like to do that work with us. After a few more conversations about what we’re looking for and where we are in our process, in early December Bill met with the Vestry, Capital Campaign Discernment Steering Committee, and representatives of Buildings & Grounds to present a proposal for “Master Planning and Prefunding Design Services.” Master Planning means that he and his team will work with our congregation to gather input on how we use our building now, and how we might like to use it in future – including use by neighbors and outside groups. Prefunding Design means that he and his team will take that information and develop a couple of different approaches to addressing those needs and hopes, improving both the beauty and usefulness of our main facility. Those designs would then help us move forward with our capital campaign, with a clear vision of what we are fundraising for, and what ministry possibilities those changes could enable.

Following Bill’s presentation, we spent the next couple of weeks checking references and talking about whether we were ready to start down this road. Just before Christmas, with a strong recommendation from the Discernment Steering Committee, your Vestry voted to approve the proposal to work with Engberg Anderson for this design process.

There are a lot of reasons we’re excited to undertake this work with Bill and his team. They especially enjoy working on churches, and have a real understanding of what church buildings are for. Bill is deeply familiar with Episcopal churches, our culture, strengths and values. We’ve been impressed by Bill’s responsiveness and competence. He appreciates the beauty and distinctiveness of our building, while also understanding the things that don’t work about it, and he’s is enthusiastic to work with us on designing some solutions. The design process will be highly collaborative – a good fit for our hands-on culture here at St. Dunstan’s. The Engberg Anderson team may even do some of the design work here at the church, so that parishioners can stop in to ask questions or share ideas. We think that sounds both healthy and really interesting!

As with our discernment process with the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), this is just a beginning. In fact, in many respects this work with Engberg Anderson parallels and complements that discernment process. Our work with Bill and his team will help us name our frustrations with, and hopes for, this building and our life together here; while our work with ECF will help us reflect on who we are, what we’re called to become, and how the home of our faith community should reflect those values.

We expect the first few months of this new year to be rich in opportunities to participate in both of these input-gathering and reflection processes. Keep your eyes on the calendar, and feel free to ask questions – of me, any vestry member, or our Capital Campaign Discernment Committee members. I’m excited about the conversations ahead, and look forward to sharing them with each and all of you!


Capital Campaign Discernment Committee

John Laedlein, co-convenor

Celia Fine, co-convenor

Mary Ann Fraley

Helen Lackore

John Rasmus

6205 University Ave., Madison WI

St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church