This blog has been discontinued. See Adam Gonnerman for all future posts.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

A New Home for Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, New Jersey

If, in early 2013 someone had told me that in a few years I'd be a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, I probably would have taken offense. I was at that point still of an evangelical faith that was becoming more progressive, but was soon to wane entirely. In 2015 my son, who was then in 8th grade, and I found our way to Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, NJ, and in doing so we found a community locally, nationally, and even internationally that we can call our own. This congregation is doing exciting things, and one of the biggest projects right now is a building campaign.

Beacon is a community of people who have come together to celebrate diversity, promote justice, and provide a safe space for spiritual growth. Our Mission is to be a radically inclusive religious community that feeds the human spirit and heals the world. The congregation based in Summit, New Jersey, has been growing steadily over the years, and in response, we have launched an ambitious building campaign to expand our facilities and better serve our members.

The building campaign, which was launched in 2019, has been a long time in the making. Our congregation has been in Summit since 1908, and over the years, our membership has grown to the point where we have outgrown our current facilities. In addition to the growing membership, we have also been expanding our programs and outreach efforts, which has put further strain on our facilities.

Another key consideration in building this new structure is the physical appearance of our current home. While we love our facility at 4 Waldron Avenue in Summit, it is a traditional-looking white sanctuary. Looking at it without knowing about the community meeting there one would easily assume it's a traditional mainline Protestant church, not a welcoming place for atheists, Christians, people of Jewish identification, and others. People of all sexual orientations and genders have a place with us. We welcome all who welcome all. 

The new building will be a two-story, 10,000 square foot structure that will house a new sanctuary, religious education classrooms, meeting spaces, and administrative offices. The design of the new building is meant to be modern and welcoming, with large windows that let in plenty of natural light and an open floor plan that encourages community interaction.

One of our goals in the building campaign is to create a space that is accessible and welcoming to all. The new building will be fully ADA compliant, with features like ramps and elevators that make it easy for people with disabilities to navigate the space. The building will also be designed to be environmentally sustainable, with features like solar panels and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

The building campaign is being funded through a combination of donations from our congregation's members and friends, as well as the likely sale of our current building and the adjoining property which we own. We have already raised a significant amount of money, but we still have a ways to go before we reach our fundraising goal.

We see the new building as a way to not only meet the needs of our current membership but also to expand our reach and impact in the wider community. We hope that the new building will be a place where people of all backgrounds can come together to learn, grow, and make a positive difference in the world.

The building campaign of Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, NJ is a testament to the power of community and the importance of creating spaces that reflect our values and aspirations. By expanding our facilities, we, the congregation, are not only meeting the needs of our growing membership but also creating a space that is accessible, sustainable, and welcoming to all. As we continue to work towards our fundraising goal, we remain committed to our vision of building a better world.