Looking ahead together…

Last Sunday a group gathered to talk about plans for the upcoming church year. Over lunch and a lit chalice, we shared in conversation and brainstorming about how to build on the traditions of the past as we look forward to our future.

We are excited to share with you the dates and basic plans for the start up of the new year, and hope you’ll mark your calendars with all these dates and plan to support these programs with your service and your presence.

  •  June 14th – Sunday service schedule begins with one service at 9:30 – continues in the Sanctuary every Sunday until September 13th
  • August 12th– August 16th – Rummage Sale (set up Aug 2nd-11th) – These earlier dates allow teachers and youth to more fully participate in this important event, and ensures plenty of time to clean up and reset before the start up of fall programs.
  • August 30th – Start-Up Breakfast at Foothills after worship service – the timing of the Rummage Sale this year will mean we can have the start-up breakfast at our own beautiful site, ensuring greater participation from our worship community, count on bouncy houses easy access and fun for all!
  • September 5th – 7th – Buckhorn Family Retreat – moving the Retreat to Labor Day weekend will allow for the additional night that many people have been asking for!
  • September 13th – Ingathering Service, we return to two services at 9 and 11 a.m. and official kick-off of programs for children and youth.

Congregational life has changed a lot over the past couple of decades; Unitarian Universalist churches no longer “shut down” over the summer.  We are excited to be able to better fulfill our mission through year round Sunday services and programming.

Lots more details to follow! In the meantime, we look forward to finishing up the second half of this church year with enriching programs and meaningful opportunities, and we are grateful to walk together on this journey.

In partnership,

Rev. Gretchen Haley, Associate Minister

Eleanor Van Deusen, Director of Religious Exploration, Buckhorn Retreat Coordinator

Carolyn Myers, Church Administrator

Jennifer Powell, President-Elect on behalf of the Board of Trustees

Cherry Sokoloski, Pam Stevens and Kay Hood on behalf of the Rummage Sale Team

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Foothills Youth attend “We cant’ wait” MLK summit in Denver

by Kristina Ruff – Foothills Youth Coordinator
The youth and I had an amazing experience this past weekend at the We Can’t Wait MLK Con in Denver. The event, hosted by First Universalist Society of Denver (FUSD), provided several social justice “tracks” from which the youth could choose: Racial Equality, Criminal Injustice, LGBTQ, Immigration, and Reproductive Justice. Over the course of the weekend, youth participated in eight intense hours of learning, discussion, and ultimately inspiration surrounding these topics.

The Racial Equality track challenged youth to become aware of their own white privilege and to put themselves in the shoes of someone for whom the most salient facet of their identity is often the color of their skin. Our speaker, Kenny Wiley, empowered them to be allies by teaching them ways to speak up when they hear micro-aggressions such as his personal (not) favorite, “Wow! You’re so articulate for a black man.” The Criminal Injustice track, led by anarchist Ben Turk and prisoner advocate/doctoral student Colleen Hackett, incorporated theatre games and role play to support the staggering statistics they used to inform the youth about the injustice in the system. It amazed many of them to learn that, while black people make up only 13% of the US population, they form 37% of the prison population. Colleen and Ben also led discussions around issues like private companies running prisons and therefore supporting mass incarceration, the idea that the war on drugs has radically increased the number of people in prison, the fact that each inmate costs US taxpayers $44,000 per year, or the fact that many inmates are mentally ill without recourse to proper treatment. Youth asked fantastic questions about why we don’t offer better mental health support, or invest more in education and healthcare to support people for whom this life is a reality. Most importantly, it asked them to consider what our society could be like if we as a community took responsibility for failing these people, rather than placing the blame on them and defining them by one mistake for the rest of their lives.

Since each participant could only participate in two tracks, I don’t have firsthand experience with the specifics of information supplied in the remaining three tracks. But I saw the results – youth came away righteously frustrated by the lack of respect for LGBTQ peers and equipped with tools and resources for ways to connect, raise their voice, and be an ally. They were outraged by the case of Arturo, a business owner, father, and community leader whose currently lives in FUSD’s basement because his deportation by INS began before Obama offered amnesty. They were amazed at the fact that there is actually documented racial bias in the availability of contraceptives in certain parts of the US. Woven throughout these tracks were activities and discussions on intersectionality – the idea that different forms of oppression intersect, and that if those supporting one issue came together with people supporting another issue, that perhaps progress could be achieved faster than if each group worked solely towards their own goal. After one such activity, some of our youth (somewhat jokingly) called themselves “the Swiss Army Knives of Justice,” because we need to be multifaceted in our approach to injustice everywhere.

The experience culminated with YRUU’s participation in the MLK march – what a powerful experience! I think one of the most amazing things I had the chance to witness this weekend was the spark that grew into a flame for many of our youth – the realization that we really CAN’T wait, that there are things even young people can do right now to make a difference. And I can’t wait to see where they’ll go with that epiphany.

Celebrate Our Present and Envision Our Future Through Appreciative Inquiry

As we gather in the next few weeks for our Appreciative Inquiry sessions, some have wondered what exactly we’ll be talking about.  We’ve even had a few people say they weren’t sure they had a “story” to share so maybe they shouldn’t come! The beauty of Appreciative Inquiry process is that everyone can participate.  To help you start to think about your own story, here are the questions we’ll be exploring in these sessions. Think them over, and consider your response, and then pick the session that works for you, and come, share your story – and help us better claim our shared story.

1) Think back over the past few months or year or two of your involvement at Foothills. Tell about a time when you felt most fully connected to your best sense of your self, connected to others around you, and a sense that you were a part of something greater – working towards a greater good.  It should be a time where you felt inspired, and committed to a sense of purpose and to make a difference.  Tell the story in some detail.

2) Consider this list of values.  Which of these are well expressed by your story or by other experiences you have had in our congregation? Link them to particular experiences.  Which values do you yearn to be more expressed in and through our congregation? Offer any specific ideas you may have for doing so?

  • Kindness, gentleness, and care; compassion
  • Fairness and justice
  • Loyalty and commitment to relationship
  • Respect, communication and commitment to ends
  • Goodness, rightness and truth
3) What are the unique gifts you believe that Foothills can offer to the world? What do you see as our particular calling to make a difference – in whose lives and in what way?
4) What is your deep longing or yearning for our future? What courageous dreams do you have for our congregation and our impact in people’s lives and in our community?
Appreciative Inquiry Sessions – Pick One: 
Option 1 – January 21, 2015 – 5:30-7:30 pm Sign up Here 
Option 2 – January 25, 2015 – 12:30-2:30 pm Sign up Here 
Option 3 – January 31, 2015 – 9:30-11:30 am Sign up Here
Option 4 – February 3, 2015 – 6:00 – 8:00 pm Sign up Here 
Option 5 – February 12, 2015 – 2:00 – 4:00 pm – Sign up Here 
Option 6 – February 13, 2015 – 6:00 – 8:00 pm Sign up Here 

MInisterial Search Timeline

This past Sunday, Rev. Nancy Bowen joined us to lay out the timeline for our coming ministerial search.  For those of you who couldn’t make it to that meeting, for those of you who weren’t sitting close enough to read the timeline projected on the screen, and for those of you not blessed with perfect photographic memories, here is the timeline for our search process.

I’d like to add a few details about the process that we mentioned Sunday but didn’t have space for in the timeline document.

  • First, that the upcoming Appreciative Inquiry opportunities are, in a way, part of the search process.  Ministerial search is tightly interwoven with congregational identity – as Nancy said, we are not simply looking for the most qualified candidate, we’re looking for the best fit for our congregation. Appreciative Inquiry is an exploration of what makes this church special, and the lessons we glean from that process should inform our search.
  • At the recommendation of Rev. Keyes, we will be calling every member of our congregation to talk about the qualities we look for in a search team, and who you feel embodies those qualities.  These calls are intended to maximize the involvement of the congregation in this process, so that we end up with a Ministerial Search Committee we know and trust.
  • The Nominating Committee will then propose a search committee slate in consideration of that broad congregational input, and the congregation will vote on whether to accept the proposed committee members at a special congregational meeting to be held in early March.

The rest of the process is outlined in the timeline above.  Feel free to ask a Board, Nominating Committee or Transition Team member if you have any specific questions I haven’t covered.

Appreciative Inquiry at Foothills

Guest post from Joan Woodbury, Transition Team Member

Tell your story, dream your dream.

As our congregation transitions from one successful ministry to the next, we are taking the time to celebrate our past and appreciate our present before we turn towards the future.   In November and December we had an opportunity to become more familiar with the church’s history, to hear personal remembrances about the past from our own members and to be a part of our collective timeline. In January and February we turn our attention to the present with Appreciative Inquiry.

As described on the UUA website, Appreciative Inquiry uses positive questions and interviews to focus on how a church functions at its best. It is the cooperative search for what is best in our church. During the process, we use specific questions to discuss our own experiences and to generate hopes and dreams for the future.

The process begins with one-on-one interviews with each other in the presence of facilitators. We then come together in larger groups to continue the conversations and learn from each other. The information we gather will help us with another step in the search process – information for the search committee about what we all value and what we want for our church in the years to come.

This is an important step in this interim period and the more people who participate the more meaningful it will be.
Please join us!

There are currently six (6) sessions scheduled and you need only attend one session:

Wednesday, January 21st – 5:30 to 7pm (before Choir practice)
Sunday, January 25th – 12:30 to 2 (after second service)
Saturday, January 31st – 9 to 11:30
Tuesday, February 3rd – 6:00 pm
Thursday, February 12th – 2 to 4pm
Friday, February 13th – 6:00 pm (during Fab Family Friday)