NUUC Building Expansion & Capital Campaign Timeline

2016-06-14 12:40:54

Board Completes Strategy/Mission

The NUUC board, at the encouragement of Rev. Susan Ritchie, engaged in intense strategy, long-range vision, and mission work staring in 2015. It was a concern that further thoughts of building renovation would be pointless without a serious examination of what faith commitments and mission drive our use of the building. During the time period of approximately April 2015 through November 2015, the NUUC Board of Trustees ascertained five year strategic goals, included below. In 2017, the Board approved a mission framework, captured in our new logo. NUUC Strategic goals (from 2015)   1. Providing increasingly vibrant, intentional and prolific intergenerational programming (including times other than Sunday morning) •Programming meets the needs of members, visitors, and friends of various durations of involvement to be engaged, enriched, included, and cared for; much of this programming is inclusive of a wider community •It engages with non-congregational partners (e.g., Simply Living, etc.) •It matches a community need with a corresponding congregational strength (e.g. Same Sex Marriage Day, environmental education, spiritual programming without religious requirement) •The programming is holistic, integrated, and mixed •It is planned across committee, team, or program teams •It looks to blended events that meet multiple needs (social, educational, spiritual)   2. Providing a worship and arts program that has expanded its strengths further beyond the borders of Sunday morning •There are worship and worshipful opportunities outside of traditional Sunday morning service •Some of these worship opportunities are intentionally welcoming and attractive to persons not necessarily wanting to affiliate explicitly with the Sunday morning community •The arts program is an even greater source of outreach to the community (existing examples: the recorder group plays in retirement centers, past music and drama productions, use of sanctuary as gallery space)   3. Completing a visionary building expansion/renovation that becomes a community center (i.e., aligned with mission and a real aspiration for the future) •The building clearly signals our religious values to the community through our physical presence and appearance •The building supports programming that involves, welcomes, and supports the community (ex; bike path gazebo). •The building is hospitable and welcoming to visitors •It has well maintained spaces with good curb and public use appeal •spaces more in keeping with contemporary standards for public accommodation (ex: ADA, transgender friendly restrooms) •The building has been developed to accommodate helpful partnerships in space sharing   4. Developing leadership to fully enable the stewardship of human, material, and financial resources •Structures support volunteer commitments that are well defined in role, joyful, time limited, clearly connected to meaning and purpose, and well appreciated •There is intentional leadership development •Opportunities for giving outside of the annual canvass and contributions to the annual budget are cultivated •by a year-round focus on stewardship, not just a pledge drive •by cultivation of advanced giving opportunities •by the development of a capital campaign •There is a structure for long term financial planning •there is a financial plan for meeting capital maintenance and improvement needs •there is a way of determining feasibilities of capital project •There is abundant generosity and service

2016-07-01 19:30:54

Board Forms Steering Committee

The NUUC board forms a Steering Committee to oversee the next phases of the project. The Committee, chaired by Allison Fagan, includes Teri Cornell, Dick Leavy, Rod Meyers, Lauren Richard, Rev. Chris Jones Leavy, and John Rodeheffer.

2017-09-11 09:37:01

Architect Selected

The NUUC Steering Committee has an important and exciting update to share with you about our progress. As you know, NUUC is in the process of exploring the possibility of expanding our building to better allow us to live out our congregational mission. We are pleased to announce that on our recommendation, the Board has hired Dave Kerr, Architect to work with us on designing a building that will support our mission. This fall he will begin the Assessment/Programming phase of the project. This will be comprised of interviews with a few groups of congregants to discuss needs of the congregation and their thoughts about church expansion. He and his colleague, Cara Hering, will also assess our current building, do research on future local development, such as Evans Farm and conduct a review of planning and zoning code requirements. At the conclusion of this phase he will issue a report to the Steering Committee. The Committee, in turn, will share conclusions with the congregation. Our second announcement is that, after interviewing four financial fe asibility consultants this summer, the Steering Committee recommended, and the Board concurred, that we hire Barry Finkelstein from Stewardship 4 Us. The purpose of a feasibility study is to learn about the financial health of a congregation and its readiness to support a capital campaign. The first step in Barry's process is a "Next Steps Weekend" (NSW). This is, in his words, "an intense yet quick on-site assessment of the congregation, the building plans, current and projected finances, and leadership and stewardship infrastructure, to determine how best to proceed." Our NSW is currently scheduled for the weekend of December 1. Barry will conduct interviews on Friday and Saturday and then present the results during our Sunday worship service. Those results will include a set of recommendations and timeline of how to proceed with our project. That presentation will be followed by a comprehensive report submitted to the Steering Committee, which will share the conclusions with the congregation. As you can see, with the architect and feasibility consultant both beginning the first phases of their work for us, Fall at NUUC is going to be busy and exciting! We invite you to think about your goals, desires, and dreams for NUUC. As always, we are happy to hear from anyone who has questions, concerns, or ideas. The committee can be reached at: Steering Committee Members: Allison Fagan, Chair Rod Myers Teri Cornell Lauren Richards Chris Jones-Leavy John Rodeheffer Richard Leavy

2017-09-26 13:22:58

Landscape Vision Plan Presented

Amy Dutt presents the results of her meetings with church members regarding the vision for our outdoor spaces and memorial garden. The full text of her report is available in the link.

2017-12-05 09:37:01

Next Steps Weekend & Consultant's Report

Barry Finkelstein. You may recall that Barry conducted a Next Steps Weekend in December to assess our readiness for a building project. As a result of that weekend he submitted a written report of his findings, which were very positive. The Steering Committee would like to share that report with you. Please don't hesitate to contact the Steering Committee in person or at if you have questions, comments or concerns. Thanks for taking the time to review this important document. You can access the report by clicking "find out more."

2018-01-14 13:22:58

Annual Meeting Approves Next Steps with Architect and Financial Feasibility Consultant

As you probably know, a Congregational Meeting was held after service on Jan. 14 to vote on the 2018 budget, to authorize funds for NUUC building improvements, and to grant status of Minister Emerita to our Community Minister Chris Jones-Leavy, who recently retired. The sanctuary was decorated with balloons and a banner, in the spirit of the celebratory nature of the meeting. We had very good attendance and quite a bit of meaningful discussion before each vote (all of which passed). Here is a recap: Treasurer Diane Conley gave a review of the balanced budget for 2018, before and the a motion was made to approve it. One important point to note is that the employee compensation values each include a 2% Cost of Living increase over last year. Also, under Administrative Expenses, you will might see notice a substantial increase in bank service charges, from less than $100 to $1,770. This is due to a 5% charge on pledge payments made by credit card. If you contribute electronically and can have the money withdrawn directly from your checking account instead, the fee will beis only 25 cents per transaction. Next, a motion was made to approve the necessary funds for moving forward with possible renovation and/or expansion of our building. This includes $10,000 for the capital campaign feasibility study, plus $16,520 for the architect and $7,000 for the construction consultant to begin work on the first phase of the project. The deliverables that we will receive at the end of this phase will be a planning report and a site plan that shows basic space definitions based on input regarding wishes and priorities received from five congregational groups (Music, Administration, Religious Education, Buildings & Grounds, and Social Outreach). During the final agenda item, Rev. Susan Ritchie made a motion to name Rev. Chris Jones-Leavy "Minister Emerita." She explained that while this was partially in recognition of Chris' recent retirement, it is also a great honor-recognizing both the distinguished nature of her ministry and her ongoing presence among us. Chris then spoke about how much she had appreciated the support of the congregation that ordained her while she was performing her hospice work in the community. After the meeting, there was a party in Fellowship Hall with cake and noisemakers. So now that this important meeting is behind us, what's happening next and how can you stay involved? First of all, on Jan. 23 you should have received an email from NUUC with a link to the Next Steps Weekend report. If you have not done so already, please take a few minutes to review the suggestions that Barry Finkelstein, the feasibility consultant, has made regarding our process moving forward. (There is also a hard copy of the report near the blackboard in the vestibule of the sanctuary, along with other documentation about the committee structures and timelines.) Second, if you have not yet had a chance to share your ideas about NUUC's future plans, please email them to or talk to one of the Steering Committee members (listed below). And if you see a way that you would like to participate, seek out the appropriate people to let them know. If you have questions, concerns, suggestions, etc., be sure to raise them. While the Steering Committee is leading the way, this is a process that involves the entire congregation. The Steering Committee Allison Fagan, chair Teri Cornell Chris Jones-Leavy Dick Leavy Rod Myers Lauren Richards John Rodeheffer Enter story info here

2018-01-16 13:22:58

Members Meet with Architect Dave Kerr

Architect Dave Kerr meets with different members and groups of the congregation to discern our programming needs.

2018-03-11 08:28:36

Architect's Report, Maps

At the congregational meeting on March 11, 2018, the Steering Committee presented this "checking for understanding" report from Architect Dave Kerr. Click "Find out more" to read Dave's report. For a map of the church and neighbohood, go to: For a map of the North Road proposed traffic circle, visit: For a map of the proposed Home Road extension, visit:

2018-07-15 18:41:29

Designs Unveiled

Architect's concepts revealed during worship

2018-08-05 18:41:29

Town Hall Meeting: Vote on Design Concepts

After Sunday Worship, a Town Hall Meeting to take a Straw Vote on the Congregation's preferences regarding proposed design concepts.

2018-08-06 18:41:29

Design Concept Selected

From the Steering Committee: Results of Straw Poll Vote on Building Design Concepts On Sunday, August 05, NUUC held a Town Hall and straw poll concerning our building project. The purpose of the straw poll was to choose one of the conceptual designs to be used in our financial feasibility study, the next step in our expansion project. During the Town Hall there was a brief presentation of each plan, an explanation of soft costs and instructions regarding the straw poll. In addition, there were 30 minutes for comments and questions from attendees. Following the comments ballots were distributed and the poll was taken. The Town Hall was attended by 65 adult members and friends of the congregation. Each was allowed to mark a ballot with either a rank ordering of the three options or a write-in of "none of the above." Had "none of the above" been the majority vote the Steering Committee's process would have ceased, there would have been no capital campaign at this time and the project would have been returned to the Board for its decision about next steps. Of the 65 people present, 24 voted "none of the above," not a majority of the ballots cast. At that point, using the remaining 41 ballots, the ranking for each option was tabulated by the Steering Committee to determine which plan was preferred. Because of the means of scoring, the greater the preference for an option, the lower its score would be. (Think golf, rather than basketball.) The score for each option was as follows: Option 1: 51 Option 2: 110 Option 3: 85 This means that with the lowest score, Option 1 is the plan chosen by those in attendance; it will be used in our financial feasibility study scheduled to take place August 14-17. If you were invited to participate in this study, please be sure to respond to the email you were sent requesting that you schedule a time to meet with our consultant, Barry Finkelstein. Thanks to everyone who participated. The democratic process is alive and well at NUUC! Respectfully, The Steering Committee Allison Fagan, chair Rod Myers Teri Cornell Lauren Richards Chris Jones-Leavy John Rodeheffer Dick Leavy

2018-08-20 13:22:58

Formal Financial Feasbility Study Begins

Our financial feasibility consultant, Barry Finkelstein, interviews members of the congregation

2018-08-28 17:17:11

Steering Committee Release Final Report

Click on "read more" for the full report

2018-09-26 18:41:29

Financial Feasibility Report Released

Click "find out more" to read Barry Finkelstein's final report on the financial feasibility study.

2018-12-16 17:17:11

Board Call Congregational Meeting to Hire New Architect

Dear NUUC Members and Friends, Your board of trustees is calling a congregational meeting for December 16, to immediately follow the worship service. We will be asking for a vote to engage Kay Onwukwe as our architect to develop a schematic design to present for congregational approval for a cost of no more than $17,500. Because of his understanding that the congregation will be extremely interested in accurate cost estimates, Onwukwe has proposed that he work on a “design build” basis, which means that he would work with a construction company on every phase of his design development, so that the budget can be managed and accurately controlled from the very beginning. For this reason, we will also ask for a vote to approval Shaun Greer as our contractor for this period, for a total cost of not more than $12,000 (this figure is likely to be lower given some of the programming work that has already been accomplished). We are aiming to have a design to present for congregational approval yet this winter. Should the congregation show enthusiasm for the design, our consultant Barry Finkelstein, will return in March to train stewards, and we can launch a combined annual pledge and capital campaign drive this Spring. In the past, we have been accustomed to doing a fall annual pledge drive. However, the opportunity to do a combined drive under Barry’s guidance, in addition to the general advantages of doing a spring pledge drive, have led the board to recommend that we use this opportunity to permanent locate the annual pledge drive to the spring, and change the fiscal year from its current association with the calendar year to a July fiscal start. Hence, at the December 16 meeting, we will also ask the congregation to vote that we extend our current budget to the new fiscal year. That budget has been performing very well; we will hear a report on both the budget performance and the status of capital funds at the meeting. We will also ask that congregants simply extend their pledge at their current levels until the campaign launch. We do ask that you email to indicate if you would like to increase your pledge, or if you need to decrease it due to changed circumstances. We know a lot has happened in a fairly short time relative to the building process, so we are providing a brief summary below of all that has transpired since late this summer. Sincerely, Your NUUC Board of Trustees Building Project Timeline since August 2018 At a congregational meeting on August 3, Dave Kerr’s design concept one was selected as the best of three presented designs, using preferential voting. Support for the concept was nonetheless weak, with 24/65 persons present voting for “none of the above” as their preferred design Consultant Barry Finkelstein released the results of the Financial Feasibility Study on August 30. The results showed good acknowledgement and engagement with the process, appreciation for the work of the Steering Committee, and also, disappointment that Design Concept One did not accomplish more of our mission related goals. Barry reported that a capital campaign organized around Design Concept One would raise $450-$550K. Immediately before the meeting, Barry let us know about a member of the congregation willing to give a generous six figure gift towards a Capital Campaign directed around a design that meets more of our goals. Barry also reported that many of the people he spoke with would also be willing to give more to a project representing more gains. Barry believes that a project more in line with our goals has the realistic potential to raise $850-$1150K. Shortly after the results of the Feasibility Study, the Steering Committee recommended that as there was not adequate support for a capital campaign around Design Concept One, we suspend efforts to build on our land and look for real estate for purchase, and that the Steering Committee disband. The board then took on the task of completing the remaining to-do items from the Financial Feasibility study. This included looking at existing real estate (so far, that search has shown nothing viable, but it remains an active search) and reviewing the cost estimates from Lincoln Construction that estimated the Design Concept One expense to be at $900K. Jeff Seiter, an architect whose primary practice is the review of cost estimates, examined all the materials, and determined that for $900K we could build something that represents more gain in space and mission alignment than Design Concept One. Given this information, plus the offer of the large gift, the board decided that it was important to continue to work to find a unifying design concept for building one our land. The board believes that given the feasibility study sets a reasonable capital campaign goal of $850-$1150K, and that we could pursue a conservative mortgage of $100K, in addition to resources available to us after the sale of Nielsen House, that a projected building cost of $900K leaves room for soft costs and overages. The board searched and interviewed architects for this next phase and decided to recommend Kay Onwukwe to the congregation as someone who could use the programming results of the previous work, as well as his own processes, to develop a design concept to present to the congregation for a building with a cost of $900-$950K. Kay proposed working on a design-build basis with Velocity Construction, in order to tightly manage our $900-$950 budget In October of 2018, the board introduced the congregation to Kay Onwukwe and Shaun Greer.

2018-12-16 21:08:35

Congregational Approves Onwukwe as New Architect

At the vote at the congregational meeting on December 16, the congregation overwhelmingly approved the hire of architect Kay Onwukwe and builder Shaun Greer to develop a schematic design for building expansion (to present for congregational approval this winter).   While Kay will be using some of the programming work already done by our previous architect, Dave Kerr, Kay would also like to have the opportunity to hear directly from any members of the congregation directly about their hopes for the new design.  Towards that end, all are welcome to join us in an Architectural Visioning Meeting on January 25 from 4 PM to 6 PM in Fellowship Hall. Rumor has it tracing paper will be involved!! 

2019-03-10 21:43:16

Capital Campaign on Onwukwe Design Approved

We are thrilled to tell you that a capital campaign based on architect Kay Onwukwe's design plan was unanimously approved at the congregational meeting on Sunday, March 9! You can access the presentation by John Foreman on behalf of the building committee by clicking on the "read more" link below. This report contains a summary of financial assumptions, a review of the design features, and an explanation of the cost estimates. You can also access the brief video showing a 3-D rendering of how the design fits on our existing property here (this video is also include in the presentation file) by clicking the "read more: link below.

2019-07-17 10:48:08

NUUC to Buy Additional Land from Delco

Your building committee (Bob Keith, John Foreman, Becky Gentry, Susan Ritchie, and Roger Johnson) is feeling quite joyous and grateful this week. One of the several gates we have to pass through on our building expansion process is the Orange Township Zoning Board. They have a stricture that you cannot expand a non-conforming building more than 50% on less than five acres of land. We are “non-conforming” because, in part, the church building is too close to our east property line. They have given us a variance for that in the past since the church was originally built in 1865 before there were zoning codes. And our, building design would expanding or building 150% and this on only about three acres of land. Rather than approve another variance, the Township Zoning Board suggested we ask Del-Co Water, whose property adjoins ours (south and west), if they might sell us the necessary land. We did ask, and last Wednesday, the Del-Co Water Board approved of the sale of the land to us of about two acres for costs only. We will have to shoulder the transfer costs and fees, but we estimate we’re getting at least $70k worth of land. But more importantly this additional land ensures zoning approval, passing a major threshold in our building expansion process.

2020-09-17 20:11:41

Final Approval Received from Orange Township

In September we went through the last round of approvals for our project from the Orange Township Zoning Board, so now we have clear sailing for developing our Design Development and Construction documents from our Schematic Design.  Once that is done, we can begin to plan construction, some of which might begin as early as late fall or winter 2020.  

NUUC Building Expansion & Capital Campaign Timeline

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