When Shalom United Church of Christ’s desire to serve its neighbors exceeded its space, the congregation didn’t hesitate: It decided to expand.
Originally established in 1955, Shalom has a history of welcoming the wider community in Richland, Wash., but the church knew an expanded narthex and fellowship hall would create even more opportunities to host outside groups.
“We’re a hub for interfaith activity, and we do a lot for interfaith programs,” the Rev. Steve Eriksen says. “People in our church wanted to see important programs like these have a place to flourish.”
Keeping in mind that the expansion would ultimately serve the church’s needs, the congregation met in focus groups to give each member a say in what the new space would include and achieve.
“We gathered ideas, synthesized ideas in our committee and then the architect took it on,” says Kay Hendricksen, Shalom church member and project administrator. “We were successful because we knew exactly what we needed before we began building.”
With ideas in place, the church reached out to Church Building & Loan Fund in 2010 to begin a capital campaign to fund the new fellowship hall and narthex.
Priscilla Bizer, CB&LF’s capital fundraising executive, led Shalom through the 14-week campaign by training church members and visiting them three times.
“Shalom was God’s gift to me,” Bizer says. “I couldn’t have chosen a better church to work with – the leadership was wonderful, and the church has a diverse, professional makeup.”
CB&LF rolls out capital campaigns in three stages, beginning with developing a plan and creating a campaign identity. Shalom utilized the creativity and ingenuity of the congregation’s artists, musicians and engineers to give its campaign a memorable start.
“They created a video that depicted the existing narthex as a mosh pit that was so crowded they couldn’t move,” Bizer says. “The video was hilarious but so realistic in making their case creatively about why they needed to expand.”
With a successful first stage of their campaign, Shalom moved through the second and third stages seamlessly. Bizer assisted in training leaders to reach out to large donors, and then the entire church came together – from toddlers to adults – to fundraise.
Shalom’s campaign culminated with a celebration on the final weekend, when leaders revealed that the church had exceeded the $650,000 goal – by nearly $100,000.
Hendrickson says the campaign worked so well because of the strong combination of thorough preparations, invaluable training in fundraising, and Bizer’s coaching.
“What we needed was money,” Hendricksen says. “Priscilla helped us lay out the campaign, walked us through it and was instrumental in making it successful for us.”
Shalom UCC partnered with CB&LF to expand the church's new fellowship hall and narthex.
Since the expansion, the church has been able to host several other community programs, including a local theater company and meditation group. Looking at how a church understands its presence in the community is important to CB&LF – and Shalom.
“This church understands that its facilities are to be welcoming, accessible, hospitable and available for outside groups,” Bizer says. “Shalom does a tremendous amount of mission in the community and is used regularly for other groups.”
As the church considers future building projects to increase community impact and seating capacity, Hendricksen says the congregation can’t forget the invaluable CB&LF capital campaign practices.
“Any building project can be a pain when you’re going through it, but CB&LF was a real partner with us for every step. We felt good about how it was paid for and funded. That’s important to us.”