Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem


I married into the Unitarian church; my wife Elsa grew up in the Unitarian church in Burlington, Vermont.  She and I have been members of three Unitarian churches: Madison, Wisconsin; Eugene, Oregon; and Salem, Oregon. 


In Eugene I was music chair, treasurer, president (two nonconsecutive terms), chair of the long-range planning committee, and a few other things.  Our children were raised in that church, and our two daughters are now active in their own UU congregations.


In Salem, I have been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem since 1986.  My current responsibilities are Finance Team Leader and Chief Painter.  I have also directed the financial canvass, served on the Endowment Committee and the Investment Management Committee, and taught in the children’s Religious Education program.


However, my most significant achievement has been my part in constructing out new (1997) church and its fellowship hall (2003).  I was

·        among the fundraising leaders, starting in 1993, including director of the major gifts campaign in 1996. 

·        chair of the Building Committee from 1995 to 1997, and again co-chair in 2002-2003, leading up to and during construction. 

·        coordinator of volunteers for both building phases; our congregation did all the cleanup (including daily cleanup), painting, and landscaping.

·        a worker on-site during construction of both phases.  I worked as a volunteer alongside the contractor’s people, especially in 2003, as well as on the Congregation’s responsibilities.  For several months of each building phase I worked forty to fifty hours a week on the project.


Thanks to our marvelous architect, Craig Carlson, our superb contractor Sheets Construction, the steady and warm support of our minister Rick Davis, and the generosity of our Congregation and their willingness to pitch in and help, the resulting church building is excellent – both visually most attractive and quite functional.  Even better, the congregation’s involvement in the projects deepened the sense of community among us.  I am proud of my role in it.


One story will exemplify the outstanding cooperation throughout the project.  In 1997 we received bids from six contractors for the project.  The lowest bidder on the main contract was Elliott-Sheets Construction.  Our architect had worked with Elliott-Sheets on other projects, and recommended that we accept their bid.  At our first meeting we asked about their low bid; Russ Elliott explained that they had a good crew that they didn’t have work for but didn’t want to lay off, so they tried to make sure they got the contract.  An answer we could appreciate.  There were also several additive alternates, including paving the parking lot.  The other bids were between $9000 and $18,000; Elliott-Sheets’ bid was $1600.  So we asked about that, and Joe Sheets allowed that they thought they had made a mistake on that one.  They knew, and knew that we knew, that they can be held to their bid.  But we said “we would like to be partners with you in getting the best building we can for our money.  Partners don’t screw over partners.  Tell us what the bid should be and we’ll accept.”  They were relieved, and if we were going to behave like that, they would too!  They did, and we did work happily as partners throughout the project (and when it came time in 2003 to build the fellowship hall, we didn’t need to advertise for bids again; we knew who we wanted as our contractor!).


Last modified December 26, 2008