Capital Campaign Update, January 2018

Joan Pederson, President, First Unitarian Church

Last spring we conducted a Capital Campaign Feasibility & Planning Study to gauge our congregation’s potential to raise capital to fund structural repairs, renovation, and refurbishing of the church and its facilities. It’s been roughly six months since we shared the report from that study with the congregation back on June 11, and we wanted to provide you with an update on recent developments and activities which have occurred.

We received valuable input from members and friends of First Unitarian, church leadership, and the Board of Trustees through the Feasibility Study showing strong support for prioritizing capital improvements and for making the financial contributions beyond annual giving needed to fund these efforts. In light of these great indicators of support, we are pleased to announce that First Unitarian is moving forward with plans to conduct a Capital Campaign in 2018 in tandem with our 2018 Annual Canvass in an effort to streamline and best utilize our volunteer resources through a combined fundraising effort.

The goals for the joint campaign are to raise $1-$1.25 million for capital improvements discussed and ranked by members during the Feasibility Study, and to increase the 2018-2019 annual budget by 3 percent in order to meet new and ongoing programmatic needs of the church. (Capital gifts will be pledged during 2018 but fulfilled over a 2-3 year period.)

Pre-campaign activities are underway. We’re excited to continue to work with Pratapas Associates fundraising consulting firm as we move into our capital campaign planning and execution efforts. Our consultant, Steve Pratapas, has been meeting and working with church leadership over the past few months on a number of precampaign planning activities, including developing a detailed campaign action plan and providing recommendations on the structure of the campaign leadership team.

We are thrilled to announce that congregants Jim Proctor and Lisa Christensen Gee have agreed to lead the campaign as Co-Chairs (see their bios below). Jim and Lisa are already busy at work meeting with several members of the congregation, seeking their input and feedback on the campaign plans and recruiting additional members of the Campaign Leadership Team.

The public launch of the campaign with events and congregation-wide solicitations is a few months out (February/March), but we wanted to let you know there are good things brewing in the wings. We are planning to host a congregation meeting in January to engage members in a visioning exercise and discussion on the future of our church as it relates to the planned campaign. In the meantime, Jim, Lisa and the campaign leadership team will keep you informed of developments as they happen, and you can always reach out to Teri, David, Lisa or Jim if you have any questions or need more information.

We are very grateful for all the work you do to build and sustain our beloved community and look forward to undertaking this significant work together!


Lisa Christensen Gee has been coming to First Unitarian since 2012 and joined in 2015. She loves singing with the choir, working with the Worship Arts Committee, participating in adult education courses, and coordinating dance pieces for church pageants and events. She has served on the Nomination Committee for two years. Lisa and her husband Matt live in Hyde Park where she works from home as an advocate for fair tax policies and Matt runs his business doing data analysis for social good. She is very excited about First Unitarian’s future, humbled to be asked to help lead the Capital Campaign efforts, and stoked to be co-chairing the work with Jim.

Jim Proctor has been a member of First Church for 15 years. He likes to engage in healthy conversations, especially with our newer members. He is always willing to help where needed; he gets involved and holds true to his commitments. One of his passions is singing in the Choir. He is a member of the Men’s Group, the Global Studies Group, the Leadership Development team, the Worship Associate team, and the Board of Trustees (for the second time). He is currently serving as Vice President of the congregation. In the past he has also served on the Strategic Planning Committee and the Ministerial Search Committee that recommended that the congregation call Revs. David and Teri Schwartz. He has been a mentor twice in our Coming of Age program and continues as a facilitator in the Our Whole Lives program. He is married to his lovely wife Aneesah Ali. They have 5 children, one of whom was raised at First Church, Zarinah Ali. Jim retired from the Graphic Arts community after 39 years of service. He is currently working at Meadville Lombard Theological School as the Officer of Recruitment. He is extremely honored and excited to be working with Lisa Christensen Gee as cochair of the Capital Campaign.