November 3, 2023. The BUF Board sponsored three listening sessions in September and October 2023 to gather comments and concerns about the planned purchase of padded sanctuary chairs. This provides answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Q: Who decided that chairs were a priority for fundraising by the auction paddle call? How many members have been involved in the chair decisions?
A: The selection of chairs as the focus of the paddle call was made by 15 members: the BUF Board (9 members) and the Auction Committee (6 members). The choice of chairs was selected by the Chair Task Force, which consisted of Paul Beckel, Drew Betz (Board member), and Judy Kasper (Auction Committee member). The Chair Task Force has been reconfigured this past summer and now consists of Judy Kasper, Lin Skavdahl (Board member), Stephanie Sarver (Board member) and Paul Beckel, Minister.
Q: What problem or situation exists that requires the purchase of chairs?
A: The pews are not comfortable for some people with health or mobility challenges. The upholstered chairs will increase the comfort and accessibility to the sanctuary for those members and friends. A mix of chairs with and without arms will be purchased. An added side benefit is that chairs allow for greater flexibility in reconfiguring the sanctuary for various activities.
Q: Why wasn’t a survey of members undertaken before starting this process?
A: Given the support for chairs as evidenced by the size of paddle call donations, the Board and Auction Committee did not anticipate the number of members who had questions and concerns. However, when it became clear that members had unanswered questions, the Board decided to undertake listening sessions to hear member concerns, which they will factor into final decisions about chairs.
Q: What is the plan for arranging chairs among the pews?
A: The advantage of chairs is that they can be configured in multiple ways. When we have identified the number of chairs to be purchased, the Chair Task Force will develop example plans to share with the congregation.
Q: How will the logistics of bringing in chairs and removing pews be managed?
A: The Board and the Chair Task Force is developing a plan to determine the timing for removing pews from the sanctuary, to coordinate with the arrival of new chairs.
Q: Were pew cushions considered as an alternative to chairs?
A: No. The logistics of obtaining pew cushions are more complex than chairs, requiring that the vendor make an on-site visit to measure all the pews. This would also add to their cost.
Q: How is the chair style being selected?
A: It is based on the cost, location of the vendor (to manage freight costs), the quality of components, and the sustainable practices of the manufacturer. One chair with metal components has been identified as a likely candidate, based on manufacturer location (Utah), the chairs and components are sourced in the United States, and are manufactured with a mind toward sustainable practices. This chair was been selected by the Chair Task Force, which consisted of Drew Betz (Board member), Judy Kasper (Auction Committee member) and Paul Beckel.
Q: How many chairs are being considered and how many pews would be removed?
A: Initial estimates indicate that we have sufficient funds ($9,620) to purchase up to 68 chairs.
- We plan for 4 chairs per pew.
- Currently, each row consists of 4 pews.
- We have 12 rows of pews. In addition 4 pews are at the back of the sanctuary.
- If we purchase the greatest number of chairs, roughly 17 pews/4 rows would be replaced.
- The actual number of chairs will be based on costs at the time of the order, which would include freight, taxes, and a reserve amount to be set aside to cover future repairs and/or cleaning.