In support of our application for funding of a mortgage, we would like to
provide you with background information, updated from three years ago.
The Fellowship was formed in 1956. For several years members met in homes and public facilities. In 1965 the group incorporated and acquired the well located property of a Christian Church that was dissolving. We assumed the existing mortgage of $40,000 to be paid in monthly installments until November 1979. Whether or not to obtain this property was a big decision for the small group, and it meant increasing the budget about tenfold. Real professional leadership was provided by the Rev. Brandoch Lovely of Austin, who made trips to College Station about once a month on Sunday evenings. He strongly advised us to obtain the land and buildings. The property consisted of our present Fellowship Hall with a seating capacity of about 200, a former parsonage, and a modest three room house, on a plot of approximatel
y two acres. The mortgage was paid off in 1978; the small house was used for Religious Education, although it did not serve our needs very well. The parsonage was sold; we held the mortgage until the property was resold recently and the mortgage paid off prematurely.
With the help of a Veatch loan of $70,000 (15 years at 5%), two UUA loans (one for $10,000 at 10% and one for the same amount at 0% interest), and a Veatch $80,000 "balloon" note (for which 5% interest would be due for the first time in October 1983), we were able to put enough money together to build our Religious Education wings and provide some modest improvement to our main hall (mainly wood Paneling and glass doors.) It was understood by all that we were not in a position to start paying back the loan until October 1983 and would do well, in fact, to accumulate the interest. It was expected that, with the completion of the buildings for Religious Education and increased community use of the improved premises, we could expect increased membership and be able to increase our budget, starting payments on a renegotiated mortgage in place of the balloon note. If we operated in good faith, and that we have done, we understood our application to the Veatch Committee would be favorably received
-Although we had no formal ministerial leadership until 1975-1976, the program chairmen of our Fellowship had sought regular, monthly visits from our clergy, and many ministers were generous with their time... Alice Blair Wesley came one weekend a month, working with our committees as well as leading a service. We contracted with the Rev. Robert Le Hill to be one-fourth time before he became a part of the extension ministry formally. When that transition was made, we went from one- . fourth ministry to one-third. A year ago, he had other opportunities offered to him by the denomination, and we reluctantly accepted his resignation one year before the contract was completed. We knew that filling a one-third position was difficult, given distances in Texas. So we took the same kind of risk as had been taken two decades before and committed ourselves to a half-time ministry, in part because we felt we would be able to handle our indebtedness at the very favorable rates our denomination was providing to help us grow and use our re sources to improve our program.
In the nine month period we were without a minister, things did not go badly,
but they certainly did not go well. The attendance was off, and it did not pick up as usual in the fall. We feel that, with the arrival of the Rev. Alfred D. Judd, at the end of February 1983, we are getting back near the level of professional leadership we need. We think we can have a good year ahead if we can maintain the financial support for the program we have started. Texas A&M University has doubled in size in the last ten years, with an enrollment now over 37,000. This area is one of the most rapidly growing in the country.
Since its founding, the Unitarian Fellowship has made its mark on this community. It provided the community's only integrated nursery school and kindergarten for several years. The Fellowship and many of its members played a major role in the development of a day-care center for minorities in a nearby rural community. During the Vietnam War, it provided housing for a draft counseling service, which was otherwise unavailable in the community. The existence of the Brazos Civil Liberties Union is due in no small part to efforts by members of the Fellowship, utilizing the Fellowship as a forum. cur buildings are still used by BCLU for fund-raising events. Gay "Hot Line" operation was provided a group that had no other center available. The Brazos Valley Peace Action League has recently organized with many of our members active in the group. Our building was used in May 1983 for their first fund-raiser.
Although we are in the "Bible Belt," Unitarians are respected in the community
and often are honored. However, we ARE outnumbered. I just came from a high school graduation, and we were exhorted to be saved in the invocation, the commencement address, and the valedictory. The liberal religious group feels a closeness and need for mutual support here. We want to continue to provide that support.
We have a viable society unless our "calculated risks" turn out to be ill advised. We have taken risks before and agonized. long and hard before taking the risk of the new buildings and again of the increased effort in our professional leadership. We respectfully request favorable consideration of our need for financing a mortgage to pay the $80,000 "balloon" note from the Veatch funds, so that we can keep our sound, professional leadership in our present half-time minister and make the strides in our program that will make a difference in this community.
Greta A. Fryxell President-elect (1 June 83 - 31 May 84)
Unitarian Fellowship of College Station, TX