Dear fellow members,
I hope this has been a good summer for you despite the challenges of intense heat, rampant fires and smoke, and developments at the national level. We are fortunate to have a church community to support us at a time unlike any other. In the meantime, and sitting under an air conditioning vent, I would like to offer some updates from the Board of Trustees.
The Board and members of the church met on May 20, 2018 for a full report on the state of the church and to vote on key issues and leadership positions. I’ve highlighted some key points below. For pages referenced, please see the 2018 report ONLINE HERE.
The assembly voted unanimously to elect new Board members Dinandrea Vega (3 years), Bill Mejia (3 years), and Donovan Steutel (1 year), and new Nominating Committee members Esther Martin and Roger J. Patterson. This superb roster of leaders promises to make the new church year exciting. You can find their biographies on pages 24-25 of the annual report.
The congregation voted to approve revisions to our bylaws for more intentional inclusivity throughout church activities, and to include electronic transmission for contacting members regarding church meetings and business. Please see pages 5-6 of the report.
Treasurer Gary Breaux offered a thorough report on church finances (pages 15-17). While we experienced budgetary challenges related to the CUP (Conditional Use Permit) and a 9% drop in pledging, we also looked forward to the end of our mortgage payments after June 2018, which represented $144,000 per year. Additionally, we have grown our relationship with Sequoyah High School toward a long-term contract that is not only financially beneficial to the church, but also provides a long-term home to a wonderful school aligned with our UU values.
We heard an excellent report from Peter Eisenhardt on the work that Green Council has been doing to make Neighborhood UU Church a Net Zero Church, including financial projections over the coming decade; see pages 28-29. Bravo to our hardworking Green Council!
At the annual meeting, I offered a state of the union-style report on my first year as president. I recounted some hard conversations I had had with church members related to acceptance of all of our stakeholders, including people of color and LGBTQ and staff. These conversations were very troubling to me. They reminded me that living into our principles and shared values is an ongoing process, and that we continually need to revisit and grow the ways we communicate among ourselves as members and with our senior minister. To that end, I declared an ongoing dialogue on inclusivity my #1 goal for the final year of my presidency, working toward right relations with each other.
One powerful way for us to achieve inclusivity and right relations is through the development of a congregational covenant. Many UU churches have developed their own unique covenant to reaffirm their values and priorities, creating a sense of connectedness to each other and the future. A covenant can then provide the bedrock for a Right Relations committee focused on right relationships among all members, staff and ministers.
At the Board’s behest, our former trustees Lauren Worley, Asia Bribiesca-Hedin, and Esther Martin studied the covenant building process. They brought the Board a timeline and recommendations for a process that would be open to all members. Rev. Lissa, Board Vice President Mimi Hennessy, and I met recently to lay out the next steps for this process and will have more information for you soon. I am very excited by this process and hope you will be too.
BEST WISHES FOR ALAN FREEMAN
You might know that our beloved longtime church member and past church president Alan Freeman has had some mighty health challenges in the past few weeks. Please show him your love and care by sending him a card! His address can be found in the church directory.
MISSING NANCY STEELE
Just after completing her spectacular job as church president last year, Nancy became Executive Director of the Friends of the Verde River nonprofit in Cottonwood, Arizona (https://verderiver.org), a fantastic opportunity that draws upon her considerable leadership skills and commitment to the environment. She lives there part-time while maintaining her home here with husband Bruce. Nancy also can be contacted through the church directory if you would like to send her your best wishes or complain about the current church president.
COFFEE WITH THE BOARD
Please join the Board of Trustees on Sunday, September 16, at 12:45 pm in Ross Chapel for coffee and conversation. The Board and I will offer some updates and then take questions, suggestions and any thoughts you would like to share.
DIRECTION OF THE CHURCH
At the annual meeting, I re-tailored a quote from Winston Churchill, substituting “a church” for “art”: “Without tradition, a church is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” In short, tradition and change go hand in hand in keeping a church like ours vital and constant. This has been a time of tremendous change for our church but I am more than optimistic that we are going in the right direction: upward and forward. I continue to be excited to be your president and welcome your questions, concerns or ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and best wishes!
President, Neighborhood UU Church