Nerve center tech upgrade campaign

A 21st Century Church for a 21st Century Mission


Dear Friends,

 As you’ve heard in worship the last couple of weeks, ORUUC is soon to launch a short capitol campaign, to enhance technology throughout the building.  In the month of November, you’ll be asked to make a modest but meaningful monthly pledge, to be paid over the next two years.  We’ll have fun events in November where you can learn more.  For now, to get acquainted with the campaign and the difference it will make, read below.  And also?  When you see her, thank Campaign Chair Linda Gilpin for her work!

Take care,



 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike: Where the Community Gathers

On Saturday, January 21st, countless gathered in cities around the world--from Washington DC to San Francisco to Paris and beyond--for the Women's March, to declare values of tolerance, solidarity, and human rights.  Where did over 600 people gather in the city of Oak Ridge?  In the Social Hall of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church.

 In March, the NAACP and the AKA Sorority held their first "Pearls and Politics" event, inviting members of the community to engage elected officials around issues important to the African-American community and others in Oak Ridge.  And where did they hold that event?  The ORUUC Social Hall.

 Most Saturdays, members of the Latino immigrant community hold celebrations--of baptisms, christenings, and other life passages.  Far from home, they need a space to gather to reaffirm their culture, to draw strength from their community--their music, their elders, their children.  And where do they choose to meet?  ORUUC's Social Hall.

 The Oak Ridge Civic Music Association plans its annual blow-out "Bach to Rock" festival a a community-wide affair.  And where do they hold it?  That's right: ORUUC.

 Every Wednesday morning, the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club meets at ORUUC.  Every week, a support group for Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic violence meets at ORUUC. The League of Women Voters holds their meetings, twice a month, at ORUUC.  A home-school cooperative has been happily using our Faith Formation wing as its weekday home.  We've held community organizing trainings, and sexuality educator trainings, and a day-long yoga retreat.

 Not Only for Everyone.  Also, for Us.

When the people of ORUUC moved into our new building in 2014, we said we wanted more than a clubhouse for current members.  We wanted something that would serve the wider community.  And, holy cow, has the community responded!

 But, of course, our building is not only for the wider community.  On Sundays, we gather for worship in the sunlit Sanctuary, with the stunning view of the willow oak.  Now and then, ORUUC gathers to honor a loved one who has died, and to support that person's family.  Our children fill the halls of the faith formation wing.  Thursday evenings, people gather for the weekly potluck.  Small groups meet through the week, building friendship and exploring the depths of life with each other.

 How Can We Meet the Needs of Today?

We honor our past.  But this is not 1951.  Or even 1993.  In 2017, we have a 21st century mission.  And our 21st century mission needs a 21st century church.

 When we moved in, we new our building was a work-in-progress.  So, first, we added solar panels to the roof, to produce clean energy.  We added an art gallery.  Spruced things up with window treatments. Finished the labyrinth outside and, recently, installed a "Peace Pole."

 But one thing we haven't done yet: fulfilled the technological needs for all the ways that the building is used.  If we're going to hold top-notch concerts, we need top-notch audio in the Sanctuary.  If the building continues to remain a hive of activity, we'll need message-boards that direct people where to go.  For kids to learn about the wide world, we need access to reliable tech that opens the wide world to them.

 Already, We've Had Bumps in the Road

Some people remember the evening, when our congregation was hosting members of the community for a Black History Month movie night, that our Social Hall video technology failed.  Others remember the weekend when our building was filled with sexuality educators, getting trained to teach "Our Whole Lives," a curriculum that relies on video and visual aids, and, once again, our technology was not up to snuff.  Still others have experienced confusion, walking in the door, with so much activity, not knowing in which room their particular activity will meet.  It's no secret that, on Sundays, some sit on one side of the Sanctuary, because one of the projectors is close to dying out and produces only a dim image; and that the chancel gets cluttered with clunky old microphone stands.  And our middle schoolers, trying to learn about tech and ethics last year, often had to resort to huddling around the image of someone's phone.

 Together, We'll Make Our Building a 21st Century Church for a 21st Century Mission

Our building already serves so many people, to such great effect.  It is not only a hub of activity.  It is a nerve center, where tolerance, hope, and creativity gather, to be sent out again into the world in new and powerful fashion.

 For all the ways our building gets used, we're far from fulfilling all the potential our building holds.  What if entrepreneurs wanted a place in Oak Ridge to gather?  They'd need tech to support them.  What if businesses or non-profits wanted to hold a small conference, or to conduct a meeting with partners in different cities?  They'd need the right tech.  Concerts, public forums, and more would only benefit from crisp audio and the video technology that's standard these days, to complement it.

 In the 21st century, ORUUC has a 21st century mission.  To strengthen that mission, we need a 21st century building.  Thank you for your part in pulling together with your fellow ORUUC-ians, to make that vision come true.

What, Exactly, Are the Improvements?

Good question!  Some of the improvements, you've already seen. 

  • With a screen and teleconferencing capacity, our Conference Room now already hosts multi-site meetings. 

  • Our Faith Formation wing has large internet-enabled screens installed in 5 rooms. 

  • And some of the improvements are forthcoming, after the successful campaign.  Excellent audio for the Kitchen and the Hearth Room, to hear the streamed services. 

  • Enhanced audio and the ability for streaming video for the Sanctuary sound-booth. 

  • A video monitor for the choir. 

  • Excellent hanging choir microphones--whisper-thin, but able to capture the full sound of our Mighty Choir. 

  • A video message-board for the lobby, to help direct traffic, share information, and let people know what they need to know. 

  • A Social Hall capable of supporting video and audio needs for large-group gatherings. 

  • More details are available, including the report from the tech assessment conducted earlier this year.  Just ask Fred Holland to send you a summary by emailing him at

 Three Things to Do

1. Educate Yourself: Learn about the technological enhancements planned, and already installed, through the building.  Understand the impact they'll make.

2.  Attend a Campaign Event: November will see three campaign events.  Saturday morning, November 4, donors who'll pledge at least $20/month for the next two years are invited to attend a brunch in the Social Hall.  If a smaller amount works better for you, you're invited to attend a Tailgate Party on Saturday, November 18, to watch the Vols beat LSU.  Or you could come to a Sing-Along Potluck and Marshmallow Roast, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Keep an eye out for registrations!

3. Make Your Pledge: To make our building ready to serve a 21st century mission, we're asking church-members to make a monthly pledge for 2 years (or 24 months).  This is in addition to the pledge you make to support the overall ministry of the church.  It's ORUUC's culture not to rely on a few donors, but to share the load fairly.  So, what's right for you, over the next 24 months?  Thirty dollars a month?  Twenty-five?  Twenty?  Fifteen?  Or ten?  Think about what works for you; then, make your commitment.  We're aiming for a whole lot people doing what they can--including kids!