Building Our Future

Final Building Approval Church Conference Results

A special congregational Church Conference held on December 19 for voting members of First UMC overwhelmingly approved the final building plans for our new facility to be built on North Annie Glidden Road. The vote was 60-Yes; 2-No. The District Committee on Buildings and Locations met on Monday (12/20) and unanimously approved the plans. The next step is to take the plans to the City of DeKalb Planning and Zoning Committee and the DeKalb City Council early next year for their final approval.


January 2022 Update: Since the building plan approval in June, The Building Coordinating Team has been working with Saavedra Group Architects. Saavedra has  refined the floor plans to provide a better layout for our new church home. For example, changing from a warming kitchen to a full serving kitchen will allow us to continue our mission and outreach programs.

The Coordinating Team had concerns over the roof line and flat roof spots. Saavedra made revisions to remove the concerns of  water on the flat areas and also changed the entire front view of the church, making a steeple unnecessary.

The Interior Design Team also met with  Saavedra to pick carpet and wall colorings, door and trim colors, and are working to select the fabric and color of the sanctuary seats.

On December 12, 2021, after the church service, Dan Saavedra, our lead architect, presented the latest church plans and design to the congregation.

On December 19, 2021, after the church service, a church conference was held for church members to vote on the final design and plan for the new building. (Please note — this article was written before the church conference vote. For the results of the vote, please reference the church weekly e-mail sent out on December 23.)

After the church conference approval by the congregation, we take the plans to the Northern Illinois Conference District Building and Locations Committee for their approval.

Then, in the month of January 2022, both the DeKalb City Planning and Zoning Committee and the City Council must approve the final building plans. After both boards approve the plans, “invitation only” bids will be sent to five  general contractors — three from the DeKalb area and two from the Rockford area. When the bids are returned and one contractor is chosen, the ground breaking will take place. If all goes smoothly, we hope to break ground this spring.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Sherry Uhrich or John Ward, Building Coordinating Team Co-chairs.


Special Church Conference for Final Building Plans Approval:

This Sunday, December 19, 2021, at 10:15 a.m. (following 9:00 Worship), First UMC of DeKalb will hold a special Church Conference led by D.S. Rev. Dr. Brian Gilbert to vote on the approval of final building plans presented to the Congregation by Saavedra Group Architects on December 12.  If you are full member of the Church, please plan to be present to cast your vote.

Here is a PDF with the pictures of the plans and elevations.  To review larger picture boards in the front hallway of the Church, please stop by the Church during Office Hours (Mon-Thurs) to take a closer look at the details. 

Upon approval of these plans, the Building Coordinating Team will seek final approval from the City of DeKalb in January and a request for bids will then go out to five contractors.  Our hope is to be able to break ground on our new facility this spring. 

If you have questions, please contact Sherry Uhrich (suhrich@firstumc.net), Co-Chair of the Building Coordinating Team.


December 2021 Update: The Building committees continue to plan our new building. In late October the Building Coordinating team met with our architects, Saavedra Group Architects. They reviewed updates to the design and the building timeline as a result of feedback from all the building teams. The interior design team separately visited the architects in mid-November.

In June, the estimated cost for the building was $3.6 million. Due to shortages and consequent inflation related to the pandemic, costs are likely to be higher when construction begins. Furthermore, current plans do not include a desired covered entryway, additional classrooms and a steeple. These would require extra funding.

After purchasing the land, there is currently $3.1 million to spend on the building as a result of the Help Plant the Future capital campaign and other donations. Church leadership is currently exploring ways to deal with the funding shortfall of over $500,000.


August 2021 Update: Since the June vote, The Conference Committee for Building and Locations met with the Coordinating Team. The Council asked many questions about the site, floor plans, and financials. They were impressed and have tentatively approved the plan and indicated they would approve the final plan once it was completed. Also, our architects, after listening to the congregations’ comments and suggestions, are updating the plans for the new church.

Members have asked about the timeline. ARC Designs will be coring the site to determine the integrity of the land. After this, a timeline is as follows: The architects are  currently working on schematic design modifications and approval from the Coordinating Team. Once approved they will begin the Design Development Phase and begin the construction document phase. The plan is by December/January that they will have the construction documents sent out for bids and obtain all needed permits. Once contracts are approved and the bid has been awarded to the construction company a final approval will be made. The hope is for a groundbreaking in early March with a 10-month construction phase until completion. The architectural firm of Saavedra Group Architects, will be the project managers.

Currently the estimated cost for the building will be $3.6 million and presently we have $3.1 million received.


Special Announcement: On Sunday, June 6, at a special charge conference vote presided over by Rev. Dr. Brian Gilbert, DeKalb District Superintendent, a resolution was presented to approve the building plans as presented by Saavedra Gehlhausen Architects.  The vote was overwhelmingly approved with an 81-2 vote.  The plans have been sent on to the District Buildings and Locations Committee for review and approval.  The Coordinating Team will be meeting in the near future to lay out the next steps in making the new  First United Methodist Church building a reality.  Stay tuned for more updates.


May 7, 2021

We are excited to present the proposed floor plan for our new church building.  This floor plan has evolved from many hours, days, months and years of hard work, careful planning, and prayerful consideration.  Visits to  recently constructed churches by many in the congregation helped visualize our floor plan needs.  Dozens of people from our congregation volunteered their time and expertise on nine teams including Kitchen, Music, Education, and Technology.  Their ideas have been shared with our architects, Saavedra and Gehlhausen, who have made every effort to incorporate them into this floor plan. Eleven different plans and countless revisions to those plans were evaluated. 

Highlights of the floor plan include an entryway that lines up with the sanctuary as you enter, a multi-purpose narthex that can be used for fellowship needs, overflow seating capacity, and an open “play” space for our children, youth, and community groups.  In addition, the plan anticipates the use of our stained-glass windows as a legacy connection to our current sanctuary.  The administration area will put all our staff office space together, allowing for easier communication and collaboration, and the office will have a direct line of sight to the entryway for added security.  The plan also offers a commercial kitchen and a family bathroom, in addition to a men’s and a women’s bathroom.  The configuration is such that additions may be made in the future.  The Building Coordinating Team feels that the floor plan presented here is the best possible plan within the constraints of our budget.

The projected cost of this proposed floor plan is $3.6 million, of which $3.1 million has been raised.  Therefore, our church will still need $500,000 in loans or donations.

If you have any questions about the floor plan, please direct them to one of the co-chairs the Building Coordinating Team,  John Ward at 815 761-3282, jward28233@yahoo.com or Sherry Uhrich at 815 901-2872 (after 4 pm), suhrich@firstumc.net.

June 6, 2021 is going to be a very important day in the life of our church.  That day the Building Coordinating Team will present this floor plan for a simple yes or no vote to all professing members.  Click here to see who is eligible to vote.  Due to the pandemic, the best way to do the vote is being evaluated.  Further information regarding the vote will be forthcoming in another letter.

Sherry Uhrich, co-chair; John Ward, co-chair; Shaun Chapman; Karen Mason; Gene Stanley; Jonathan Crail, Pastor     


Our church architects recently gave a special presentation of the proposed floor plans for our new church building. Watch for a mailing from the Church with information directly from the presentation, including the floor plans and simple elevations of what the general shape of the outside will look like. A video-recording of the May 4 virtual presentation is available on our Church YouTube channel (New Building Presentation May 4 2021 – YouTube).