By Don Dewey, Co-Regional Minister/President
Three years ago a conversation between DOC staff and UCC staff regarding the possibility of relocating the Regional/Conference office began. It centered around current access needs and geographic and demographic shifts that have occurred over the last two decades that have impacted our current location for our ministry together.
Questions began to be raised as to where our various congregations of activity and leadership were located and how our current facility is used effectively. From those conversations and others, we began to explore the possibility of perhaps a better location for our Regional/Conference work. In addition, we began to look into partnering with a local congregation, either UCC or DOC in a shared-usage agreement.
Our vision was to create an effective and efficient ministry center for today’s needs. We are working toward a new space for meetings and administration, but also a space for the ministries of the region to have a familiar and comfortable place for worship, assemblies/gatherings and for all of our program and community groups as well as a place to nurture new ministry.
For just over a year we visited and reviewed several possible sites for relocation. In late 2014 conversations began with FCC Fullerton with the idea of possibly hosting the Regional/Conference office in their facility. FCC Fullerton and Casa de Oracion, Fullerton, regarding that possibility, met us with much excitement and enthusiasm.
We then engaged Joe Perring as Construction/Planning Consultant and John Ahern as Architect. We knew their work well: both had helped the Region design and remodel Campbell Lodge at Loch Leven. We asked them to guide us in what these dreams might look like and what practicalities we needed to consider as we share space with two congregations, one Region, one Conference and multiple community meetings.
Initial explorations began and the second floor of the Education facility was identified as the best office location. The Region’s commitment to accessibility, sustainability, and budget constraints have guided the process as dreams led to structured conversations and then to early drawings of an office remodel in those spaces being imagined.
The First Christian Church, Fullerton congregation voted to make a gift to the Region of a 50% undivided interest of the Education/Fellowship Hall building. The facility will be an enduring gift to the ministry of the DOC/UCC. It offers many desirable attributes: ample nearby public parking, centralized location near strategic public transportation and freeway intersections, abundant number of meeting rooms, ground floor classrooms for children, existing Fellowship Hall and kitchen, existing ADA bathrooms, access to a large Sanctuary.
The Region will enter into a shared-use agreement with First Christian Church, Fullerton and Casa de Oracion, Fullerton ensuring mutual access: the Region and
Conference will have access to the large Sanctuary and the two congregations will have continued access to the Education/Fellowship Hall facilities. The congregations of FCC Fullerton and Casa de Oracion have voiced wholehearted, enthusiastic approval for the relocation of the Regional Church Office to their campus with every step of the process.
Along the way, the Regional Board was kept informed with initial ideas and plans. At the November 2015 meeting, the Regional Board approved unanimously the relocation, and in April 2016, the Regional Board approved the receipt of the Fullerton gift and authorized Regional leadership to execute construction contracts.
The UCC Conference, which currently is a 50% equity owner of our current Lake Ave office will move with us as Ministry partner but no longer as an equity partner. They will enter into a long-term lease agreement with the Region for dedicated office space and facility usage. The Region’s 50% equity from the eventual sale of the Lake Ave property will be used to cover the costs of construction of the new offices/meeting spaces at the Fullerton campus.
Our Consultant and Architect have begun their work with the city of Fullerton for plan design approvals, permits, etc. prior to the actual construction. We anticipate construction to begin November 1, 2016, with a potential completion date by October 2017. (The item that will take the longest is the installation of an elevator.)
Beginning July 2016 plans to temporarily relocate classrooms for Casa to another area in the facility will start and they will use these new spaces during construction.
We are excited to model new forms of partnership in ministry as our Region continues it mission and ministry of being one church.
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan