Yesterday, in a room filled with papers and attorneys (lots of attorneys), The Unitarian Church in Summit became the proud owner of 309 Springfield Avenue, a property formerly known as “The Dangler” funeral home. At the same time, the Bradley Family signed an agreement to purchase and run the funeral parlor and so we acquired new neighbors and partners. Board Members Tom Howard, David Miller and Kimi Nakata were all there at the signing, as was I. It is almost unbelievable.
So, a new chapter of our congregation’s life has begun, and one couldn’t help but think in such moments of all that came before. I think of the crazy people over a hundred years ago who dreamed up this community and then bought land and built a building to make it a reality. I think of all the generations in between who added buildings, consolidated buildings, white-knuckled it through depressions and recessions and inevitable moments of divide in the congregation’s life. Even if we do nothing more during our watch, with this acquisition we will have secured the future of the congregation and left it stronger than we found it. Yet, I suspect we are not done.
Still, all future plans or hopes aside, I want to take a moment for gratitude and recognition. I think we need to thank everyone who said, “Yes!” at the special congregational meeting when we were asked whether to even try to purchase the property next door when it came up for sale. The vote, you may recall, was unanimous.
We need to thank everyone who gave time and talent and treasure to move the logistics of this acquisition forward — from posters to parties to financial asks and financial gifts. We could never thank everyone because the effort was shared so broadly, which alone is something to be proud of.
However, there were a few people who carried us huge distances that deserve special recognition.
- Without the expertise and persistent leadership of Trevor Bond and Gary Buscemi, both of whom brought their substantial gifts and experience of the world of commercial real estate — without them this would probably never have happened. It certainly would not have happened as well or with as few nervous breakdowns (I speak at least for myself here).
- Without Dave Gordon on point for the Capital Campaign and the early leadership of Julia Currie Miller and Carol Ulmer with him, the short-term, they-said-it-was-impossible, emergency capital campaign would have indeed been impossible.
- Huge thanks goes to Chris Grazioso and the Finance Team for getting our financing in order.
- Our Board President,Tom Howard, and the fearless but prudent Board deserves “kudos” too.
- Most of all, though, it is our members who continue to see the promise of our community and the need to step forward boldly, and then set to putting foundations beneath the dreams we have.
Funny, how the right people at the right place and the right time make the impossible, possible. Lucky for us we had the right people again and again just where and when we needed them. And the proof of that was evident in a room stacked high with legal papers and filled with attorneys this last Thursday.
Short term it is not clear how much this property will be of use to us. We have two apartments to rent (let us know if you know folks searching for a place to call home) and we have to work with our new neighbors, the Bradleys, to see how our hopes for using the space occasionally mesh with their need to run a business. For now we will just revel in mission accomplished, dreams realized, new chapter begun. Please take a moment to let it sink in and hear the immense gratitude for what each of you did to be a part of this. There are not many such moments, so let us savor this one.
In faith, much love, and with shared congratulations, Vanessa