Foothills Announces Support of #MeToo movement

For Immediate Public Release – Full Text

Foothills Unitarian Church is proud to announce our upcoming plans to explore and support of the #MeToo movement, which seeks to end the silence around sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct that people of all genders, and especially women, have experienced, and to draw attention to the magnitude of the problem.    

On Sunday March 25th at 8:30, 10:00, and 11:30 am, Foothills Unitarian Church will launch our public exploration of #MeToo, in a service that will feature story telling, testimonies, ritual, powerful music and theological reflection.

In addition to this service, we will also be changing our signs on Drake – well established in Fort Collins since November 2016 as a much-needed acknowledgment of love for all people, especially those on the margins – to align with our equal support for the #MeToo movement.  Look for these new signs no later than March 25th.

Concurrent to the second and third services (at 9:45 and 11:15), Foothills community member Hudson Wilkins, a counselor who specializes in sexual assault recovery, will be leading conversations on how to be an ally for those who have experienced assault or harassment.  

Additionally, we will be holding a series of conversations aimed at men, hosted by two of our members who are trained facilitators in our lifespan sexuality education program (OWL).  We believe that it is important that as we lift up women’s voices and experiences, we also engage in the re-constructive education to address long standing misunderstandings and harmful cultural norms that have caught men in a culture of toxic masculinity and left them unsure about how to be good allies and companions to women in this cultural moment.  These dates are being finalized.

We consider all of these actions to be the beginning of an enduring commitment to enable a culture change in our lives, in our congregation, and across Northern Colorado and beyond.  

In these days where too often churches are a part of silencing women’s voices, or devaluing sexuality as a part of a healthy and whole life, Foothills Unitarian Church is proud to support the #MeToo movement.  We are proud to be a church that believes women, believes in telling the truth, and believes in working together to create a future of real healing, wholeness, and reconciliation for us all.

For more information about Foothills and the #MeToo movement, contact Rev. Gretchen Haley at  For pastoral support related to sexual assault, harassment, or misconduct contact Rev. Sean Neil-Barron at


An Update on Music Visioning and Music Director Search

From our Music Visioning Task Force Sue Sullivan, Gretchen O’Dell and Herb Orrell

After a busy autumn conducting interviews with notable music ministers across the country, holding feedback circles with choir members and other groups inside the church, and gathering feedback from the congregation at large via an online survey that was completed by 88 members, we have a great deal of information to sift through to craft a vision for music ministry at Foothills.

But with the departure of administrator Carolyn Myers in December, we felt that trying to hire a new church administrator and a new music director was a tall order.

In order to do the best job of both, we opted to ask Chris Reed if he would be willing to extend his interim director position. He has agreed to continue serving as interim music minister through December, after which he will be returning to graduate school to finish his PhD and pursue his academic passions full-time. Chris has become beloved by choir and the congregation of Foothills, but his first home is academia. We are deeply grateful for the calm, comforting, and affirming hand he has brought to our music ministry in this time of revisioning.

With our musical direction needs covered through the end of the year, the music visioning task force now expects to finalize the Music Ministry Vision next month and share it with the congregation for your feedback.

This vision will describe the purpose of music in our church, the ways music shows up in our congregational life, and what impact our music ministry should have within the congregation and in the larger community. It will also include qualities that we desire in our music minister.

By September, Foothills will assemble a separate search team to create a position packet for applicants that would be disseminated in a nationwide search. Interviews could begin by the end of the year and final candidates could be invited out to meet us by April of next year, with the expectation of hiring a new music director by July of 2019.

After Chris leaves us in December, we plan over the next four to five months to hold a series of music residencies. The initial residencies will be filled by well-known consulting music ministers who will come for several weeks at a time and work with our congregation, both to provide for our musical worship needs in the interim period and to help us prepare to welcome a new music director. By spring, our finalists for the position can be the music directors in residence, so that we can get to know each other before making a final decision.

We do know that we should have a full-time music minister position, both for the needs of our congregation and to draw the best possible candidates. We estimate we will need to raise another $25,000 a year in pledges to cover this cost,  but we are confident that we can make this happen!

Look for the draft music ministry vision in the coming weeks. We are very excited by the possibilities that this new vision for music in the life of our congregation holds for us!


#metooOver the last year, we have been inspired and strengthened by the the rising #MeToo movement, which seeks to end the silence around sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct that people of all genders, and especially women, have experienced, and to draw attention to the magnitude of the problem.

On March 25th, we will be holding a service exploring the #MeToo movement.  As a part of this service, we invite your #MeToo stories and testimony. We will be sharing small parts of these during the service. Please send your story to If you want to remain anonymous, feel free to print up your story and mail it or bring it to the office in a sealed envelope and put it in one of our boxes.

Additionally, we invite all women to join in a women’s choir to sing the women’s march anthem, “I Can’t Keep Quiet” as a part of the service.  All who identify as women, regardless of singing background or ability, are invited and encouraged to join in. We will rehearse Sunday March 18th at 1pm, and Wednesday the 21st at 6pm. Please RSVP to and he will send you the music and recordings for your part.

Finally, following each of the first two services on the 25th, we will be holding two conversations about being an ally for those who have experienced sexual assault, hosted by a newcomer to Foothills, Hudson Wilkins. Hudson is a local therapist whose practice focuses on healing from sexual violence and who heard about our #MeToo service and wanted to be a part of this important work. Look for more information in an upcoming Communicator or Sunday Bulletin.

Our history as advocates for lifespan sexuality education and our affirmation of healthy sexuality as an integral part of a healthy life calls and challenges us to be the church that explicitly supports the #MeToo movement. Join us on March 25th, and join us in this journey as we look ahead to building a healthier culture for all people.

In faith,

Rev. Gretchen Haley & Rev. Sean Neil-Barron

Board of Trustees Winter Update

Foothills Unitarian Board of Trustees
Informational Forum and Update
Date:​ Sunday, January 22, 2018

You can view the video recording of the forum by clicking on this link and choosing the January Board Forum in the video player menu.

Following is a summary of the meeting.

● Recognition and thanks to the Auction Committee this year for the outstanding work and funds raised for the church and Faith Family Hospitality.
● Sara Edwards stepped down from her role on the Board and we thank her for her service. Cheryl Hazlitt is filling in behind her in a temporary assigned role until elections are held later this year.

Governance Progress Report by Jody Anderson
This report provided an update on the efficacy of the transition to policy governance. Specific topics the Governance Committee has been tracking include the role of the Board; delegation of work and duties; accountability of ministry team; collaborative governance; and financial management. Overall, the Governance Committee felt the use of the policy governance model was extremely effective. Gretchen Haley provided feedback that it has been very helpful to clarify and define duties particularly related to finance and staff duties.

Mid Year Financial Report – Gretchen Haley
Gretchen reminded us this was a midyear picture (at the end of December) in the churches fiscal year. The church received a $100,000 gift to add to our operation funds this year which has been programmed to use in supporting church activities; staffing needs and the ongoing growth we are seeing. The total amount for the year received was $497,163. The budget set for this year was $426,640. The plate collection at this midyear point is $27,803, and we because of the “Share the Plate”, have share about 60% of that amount. Our operating budget is set at $760,000, and we now have been able to establish the reserves identified in policy levels ($30,000). We are also paying our full fair share to the UUA National and District organization.

Music Visioning and Hiring a New Permanent Choir Director                                                   A task force has researched and surveyed other churches to get feedback on how they operate and function. Vision discernment took place during the fall as the team did small focus groups to get feedback and online surveying as well. This information will be coalesced into the a strategy and assist in determining a job description for the music director position. A search committee will be convened later this spring to begin a national search. Our current director, Chris Reed will have the opportunity to be considered within the applicant pool. NOTE: The board has decided to delay the hiring of a new choir director since this report.

Church Administrator Position and Transition
The Board approved the hiring of a consultant to do an overview of the duties and functional responsibilities necessary for a growing church and priorities. The consultant (Patrick Murphy) will be in the office over the next few months reviewing the practices. We will review these recommendations and look to fill a new position in July. Kathryn has assume facility responsibility and oversight of custodian hours and office volunteers.
Future Staff Planning
2019 is slated to consider ministerial staff needs as we explore the possibility of satellite gathering locations or a minister at one of these sites. We have many people who are semi-engaged, but are not pledging to the church ministry at this time, making the hiring of additional ministerial staff a real challenge.

● No applicants at the moment. The leads and team gathered for lessons learned.
● A survey for congregation feedback has been sent out.
● The current remodel in the RE building has worked well.

A summary of the Future Oriented Questions survey from last fall was presented. There were a total of 48 respondents who identified most significant aspects of Foothills were Relationships & Community, Space Needs, Outreach and Service, Issue Driven Concerns. We are setting up various opportunities for small group dialogues and conversations through the remainder of the year.
● Gretchen is conducting “fireside chats” through the spring. There were 15 in attendance at the first one.
● The board is setting up dialogue groups for various groups based on anniversary years as members, beginning with a board exchange between previous and current board members. These will continue into May.
● The “gather groups” appear to be very successful. Vespers run between 20-40, but attendees are usually coming to an additional service. There are about 90 people that cannot make services work to date. Monthly reports show continued growth to services, and maintaining growth. (Comment: Small groups are wonderful for engagement.)

Space Update
The board met with the city and based on discussions determined we cannot stay at this site due to zoning, growth needs and other building related issues. We have hired an architect as a programming consultant to look at the building activity and space needs. They have met with the staff and will continue meeting with various church groups for activities and spaces. They are also going to review our current campus and give us an opinion about whether we could stay.

We are in the beginning of a 3 – 4 year process which will allow many opportunities for communication and feedback. The Space committee is developing visuals of the timeline and process. (Audience comments: It is important that we start thinking NOW about where we move as part of the process. We cannot wait very long to make that decision of where we want to be in 3 – 4 years. Location and facility are both critical considerations, and should be evaluated as part of our future vision as a church. The UU Church in Tulsa moved back to inner city as part of their outreach mission.)

The current situation with 3 services (which are generally full) is difficult and hard the church staff, but we will not go back to 2. We have received over 400 adults most Sundays. Our current space is a major limitation. The basement of the church is still in need of cleaning out.

End of report.

Becoming Belonged

Dinner.  Sharing stories.  For-real check ins.  

It’s a simple concept, but it’s not an obvious one.   The conventional wisdom these days is that we’re so busy, the only way to get folks to engage is to make it as easy, short, and simple as possible. To ask that people meet every single week, for 2 hours or more, for 8 weeks, and maybe longer – it’s too much.  

But the fact that we are over-programmed is only one part of the truth; the other, is that we are under-belonged.

I know, “belonged” isn’t technically a word.  But it helps describe how it happens.

Belonging isn’t passive – it’s active, it takes work, and discipline, and commitment – from us, and from others.  Belonging requires partnership.

Although we have more opportunities than ever before for connection, belonging is in short supply.  Only when we decide to prioritize opportunities for real connection, when we show up for true relationship with those who are committed to true relationship with us – can it really take hold.

This is the theory behind our Gather Groups – a new initiative that isn’t so much an initiative as a whole new way of being together.  

Last month at our Group Link we launched 8 new Gather Groups – and 2 pilot groups were already under way – that makes 10 groups of about 10, all of whom are following that simple formula: Dinner, Sharing Stories (related to faith), For-Real Check-ins.  Every Week.  Eight weeks – and then…maybe more, or something else, or – who knows.

Simple, but not easy – and not that short.  Simple, and transformational.  

Meanwhile, we’re piloting a Leadership version – which uses the same formula while intentionally putting mentors (i.e. longtime church leaders) with mentees (potential future leaders) to intentionally tend to leadership development in our congregation.  We’re also piloting a Family version, where families with their children meet to gather and grow together, in community.  We’ll be launching both of these in their full versions by the fall.

If you missed that first Group Link, not to worry – we’re offering another one on March 17th.  More info and sign up here.  

When I look to our future as a congregation, I am excited about the breadth of our potential impact, but I am also overwhelmed by the depth of our potential connections, the power we have to ease the central dis-ease of life today – our separation, our isolation, our longing to be known, and to know one another – for real.  

Showing Up for Democracy: The Women’s March

from Foothills Blogger, Jane Everham


The Women’s March isn’t just for women!

Brian and I attended the first March in 2017 where the organizers hoped for 20,000 attendees – they got 100,000 instead! This delayed the march as the logistics were re-worked, but the standing around with like-minded strangers gave us hope and good cheer.

The 2nd Annual Women’s March took place in downtown Denver on January 21, and even more came to march! Despite the March starting on-time at 9:30, it still took us almost 90 minutes to funnel with the crowd onto 14th St and Bannock – we were so many! This year we encountered numerous of the dozens of Foothills UUs that rode buses or carpooled down to join the March. They carried signs made at various Sign Parties sponsored by church members. The sign I carried said, “Hick, Pardon Ingrid!” and UUs from Boulder and Quakers from Denver, all part of the larger Support Ingrid coalition, recognized its meaning and stopped to talk. Many strangers asked, “Who’s Ingrid?’ and were enlightened on how they could support Ingrid and stand up for justice. It was heartening to hear them express gratitude and support for our Sanctuary efforts.

main photo

Many of the beliefs and principles of Unitarian Universalism were on display at the March.

The demographic of the marchers was extensive and inclusive – babes in arms – girls 3and women – the elderly in wheel chairs – men and boys – LGBTQ – the disabled on scooters – a rainbow of colors. They were from all over Colorado. Most carried signs – many marchers brought extras to share. The signs varied from sweet to snarky to political, and many were very funny:

“It’s about all of us!”  “Girls just want to have FUN-damental rights!”

“I’ve seen better Cabinets at IKEA!”


Note the Ingrid balloon in the background!

We were a mighty, joyous, and peaceful crowd!

Mark your calendars now for the 3rd Annual Women’s March – it is a moving experience of Showing Up -not to be missed!

January 19, 2019.


Progress Is Possible

from Foothills Blogger, Jane Everham

“It is possible to make progress.” said Rev. Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director of Colorado’s American Civil Liberties Union and Unitarian Universalist Minister during his guest sermon last Sunday. Rev. Nathan used two stories to illustrate his point. The first story was about the exertion required in the ground-breaking effort to rebel – (something UUs take to rather well.) The second story reflected a painful reality–our democracy is far from seeing our ideals as universal and fair. He called on us to weave these two stories together in a tale which will prevail and define us – to let our highest ideals “ring true not hollow.”

True democracy, he pointed out, is evident in the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty, in the Suffragettes’ movement, the civil rights’ movement, the support for the LGBTQ community. Our Constitution speaks to us with “We the People”, equality for all.

Rev. Nathan reminded us that though the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” is frequently attributed to Rev. Martin Luther King (who did repeat it often) it was first spoken by Theodore Parker, reforming minister of the Unitarian church. What connects UU’s and the ACLU is our shared belief that no one should be left out from experiencing equality and justice.

Showing up for democracy means having a better sense of what needs to be done. The 2016 election galvanized both our UU world and the ACLU. The population of the ACLU in Colorado in October 2016 was 7,000 – today it is 37,000. This influx of newly engaged Coloradans has enabled the ACLU to hire a Voting Rights Committee Coordination, a Reproductive Rights Attorney, launch a podcast called Purple State Report, and other useful entities that weren’t affordable before.

These words of Rev. Nathan bear repeating – it is possible to make progress. In the last year, much progress has been made. As we look toward the future, the November 2018 election is crucial. He called on us to at the very least show up to vote – at the very least! Or step up and RUN for office. Many, many, new people are entering the political field and running for office for the first time.

Rev Nathan closed his sermon inviting us to stay engage and to do the serious work ahead . . . with joy.

This last point was so important that Rev. Gretchen underscored it in the Gratefulness Moment of the service. “Focus on joy, give thanks for all the gifts of this life – feel gratefulness, gratitude.”

This service, like so many others, was deeply inspiring – I often leave church on Sunday thinking “This is so good, they should charge admission.” But they never will! We are invited to show our gratitude, support, and commitment to our faith’s future through pledging. Speaking of pledging . . . see you at CSU for breakfast at 9:30 next Sunday morning.