Raylene Ewing, RScP, Ministry Assistant email
Sixty years ago the Unity of Tacoma building was a brand new achievement of modern architecture. It was part of a planned community on Hilltop during a time when community members attended their neighborhood church. Three generations later a lot has changed. Gone are the days when church meant stodgy hymnals, pews and stained glass windows; enter tweets, apps and barefoot ministers. With so much change in the last half century, the question arose: Does our building still truly serve our congregation, our community and the mission of Unity of Tacoma?
The question was being held in prayerful consideration by the leadership of Unity of Tacoma long before I came on the scene in 2012. When I first arrived, the faded paint and water stains on the church building were obvious. As much as we'd like to sweep that under the carpet, it was (and is) true. Yet, if in 2012 you'd asked the congregation if the building truly served us, we would have robustly declared it did! This building was "home" to so many in our congregation, the idea of leaving it was simply not an option. And so we stayed-- not out of any guidance from Spirit, but out of the sentiment of the human heart.
In a time when many other churches were closing their doors, things became financially critical at Unity of Tacoma too. Our aging building was killing our ministry. After deep consideration, the Board asked the membership for permission to sell two of our adjacent real estate parcels. With strong confidence in our leadership the vote passed by majority, with a minority fiercely opposed. The sale of the parcels earlier this year put Unity of Tacoma back in the black! We celebrated the freedom prosperity brings and began exploring our priorities for the new funds.
The bank account was finally flush, but the celebration hall felt a little emptier. We all noticed the disappearance of the handful of congregants who opposed the sale of the properties. These people were our neighbors and our friends. In our hearts they were family. Their absence was sincerely felt. And just as we do when family must leave, we blessed their decision with love and acceptance and promised to write, which (thanks to Facebook) has been an easy promise to keep.
Now, the sanctuary is filling again. New faces have become familiar faces. Laughter spills out from the youth rooms. We hear a whisper from Spirit letting us know we are not only prosperous, we are thriving. And we are not only thriving, we are GROWING! The question started to be asked again, but this time from a place of faith rather than fear: What is Spirit's highest idea of Itself as Unity of Tacoma, and does our building support that Divine Idea?
And Spirit answered.
Out of nowhere, we got a generous offer on the church building and land. We learned our building was perfect for a non-profit that assists the underserved youth of our region. The Board once again approached the membership, this time to ask if they could explore selling our main building and property. The atmosphere at that meeting was transformed from the previous meeting. With giddy excitement over the idea our building might become a place that serves youth from all over Puget Sound, the membership's vote was unanimous, and we entered into conversation with the non-profit.
That conversation has just begun, and there are a lot of unanswered questions arising. Where will we meet if not in our current building? What will happen if we don't sell to the non-profit? Will we buy or rent if we go to a new location? Is there a way to share the building with the non-profit? These are valid questions, and the leadership at Unity of Tacoma is asking those same questions. I don't have answers, but I know how to get the answers: Pray.
Unity of Tacoma has surrendered to being Spirit-led, not just in the possible sale of our property, but in every aspect of ministry. Unity of Tacoma has a message worth sharing. We teach a rich and relevant philosophy that empowers people to thrive. We offer our community something important and needed. We may not know exactly where we are going, but we know Spirit is leading us there. And because of that, we know Unity of Tacoma will continue to prosper and thrive.
We invite you to join our leadership in supporting Unity of Tacoma as a Spirit-led church. Join us in our prayers for Divine Right Outcome and Highest Good for All, as we boldly walk this new path together with faith in our hearts and Spirit in the lead!