Our Holiday Greeting to All of You – From the Caring and Parish Visitors Teams

Submitted by Bonnie Inscho (Parish Visitor Team)

Sometimes the most meaningful gift we can give is the gift our presence, rather than presents. This is what we, on the Caring and Parish Visitor Teams, hope to do all year at Foothills Unitarian Church. The holiday season seems a good time to remind you of our presence and what our role is here at Foothills.

The Caring Team responds to the Joys and Concerns shared on Sunday, as well as other requests made throughout the week, by checking in by phone, sending cards of concern, coordinating rides to church, and arranging for meals to be taken to homes. Additionally, they coordinate the receptions for church members’ memorial services.  They also provide the Christmas Stars for one of Foothills’ holiday traditions.

Christmas Stars are now available in the social hall on the Caring Team table. Look for them on Sunday mornings before Christmas and decorate our sanctuary tree in honor and remembrance of your loved ones.  We will be hanging Stars as a part of our vespers service on December 21st at 6 pm, and also you are welcome to hang your star at any time throughout the month of December.  

The Parish Visitor Team works in collaboration with and under the guidance of the Ministerial Team. Their hope is to create a more caring community while making personal connections with members and friends of Foothills, many of whom find it difficult to attend church regularly. They provide a listening ear, a caring heart, and extend the reach of our congregation into our community.  The Parish Visitors are not a replacement for our professional ministers – Reverends Howell Lind and Gretchen Haley, and Ministerial Resident Diana McLean – who provide many pastoral visits to our congregants during times of illness, loss, and transition – but rather a supplement to help us care for and with one another across our whole congregation.

We are seeking more volunteers for both the Caring and Parish Visitor Teams. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.

Caring Team: Jacqui Wallace jacquiwallace2@gmail.com 215-8952

Parish Visitor Program: Kay Hood hoodkay@aol.com 988-8757

Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley, gretchen@foothillsuu.org 493-5906

If you or someone you know may benefit from our services, please contact caring@foothhillsuu.org or call the office 970-493-5906.

Good News from the Stewardship Team by Kay Williams

Kay WilliamsThe LUUAuction! was a grand success. One of the major yearly fundraisers for Foothills, the auction makes the generosity of our community visible. It is the one church arena where generosity is public and kind of contagious, and that is a good thing! This year the practice of sharing the Special Appeal (which was started last year) was continued. The donations will be split 50/50.  Half will be used for a new speaker system at Foothills, and half will be sent to Homeless Gear for One Village One Family and expenses for a van to support the homelessness initiative. We believe that sharing increases generosity, manifest as an over 50% increase in donations last year and another 30% increase this year to a final total this year of $9,000. This has helped further to perpetuate the culture of abundance that we are growing here at Foothills. Thank you to all who bid generously—our auction profit is $19,426 – plus our portion ($4,500) of the Special Appeal – both about $1,000 more than last year.

The Stewardship Team now oversees all fundraising for the church – including events like the auction, the rummage sale, as well as managing the all-church yearly canvass for pledges.   The annual pledge drive will start in February 2016, but perhaps the end of the year is a good time to re-evaluate your giving – what does Foothills mean to you? We appreciate your maintaining your pledge. An even greater gift to the church would be to arrange for your pledge to be automatically withdrawn from your account every month. This gives the church a steady income, essential to maintaining all of the great programs that make Foothills our beloved community. We don’t receive funds from the UUA – they come from us, the members and friends of Foothills. And monthly withdrawal is easier for you, too! Please call the office to arrange for automatic withdrawal of your pledge.

In this season of giving thanks, we are thankful for the support that you give to your church in so many ways – your volunteer efforts, your monetary contributions, and your good will.

Thank you for your commitment and generosity to our church – Happy Thanksgiving!

Kay Williams, Chair of the Stewardship Team – Karen Johnese – Peg MacMorris – Jim Lathrop – Lynn Young – Nels Broste – Scott Denning – Rev. Howell Lind

Moving Forward Together

12247140_10153987859389156_6166450952576757111_nOver the past few weeks, there have been a lot of pictures of me up and around.  It’s been a little uncomfortable, I confess.  The process as a whole has been an interesting and important one, for all of us – sometimes uncomfortable sure, but also sometimes funny, sometimes exhilarating – and often filled with love and grace.
Still, I think the more accurate picture, the more helpful picture for us to lift up at this point is the one I see when I am looking out on Sunday: the whole wonderfully crowded sanctuary and social hall, filled with all of you in all the places you are in your lives, the stories I am aware of, the many I am not, the ways you are connected to each other, the ways you care for each other, your commitment to this church and our liberal religious faith, the questions we all have, the struggles and the triumphs, together. Our church and a successful ministry isn’t about any one of us, and definitely it isn’t me – it’s about us – all of us, together.  We are all in this together, all of us.
In these first few days since my call, I have begun to think about the work ahead, and what we will need to do, and when and how we’ll need to do it.  Over and over I come back to the message I offered the first Sunday of candidating week:

Imagine, it is our task to create an environment and the appropriate forums for it to be safe for any of us to speak honestly, about those things which matter most – about our fears, our hopes, and struggles…..Imagine it is our core task to make space for all the different metaphors, and language, and meaning-making any of us might engage along life’s journey….And imagine that in our Big Tent, rather than believing it is possible to hold this much diversity and maintain a perpetual sense of ease, imagine that it is our practice to be that ‘safe place where we can be uncomfortable.’ …..Imagine that central to anything we do is our Big Tent where we make space for all who welcome all.

As your new senior minister, this is my central commitment to you and to this congregation, that we continue to cultivate an environment where all are truly welcome – all those who are willing to practice with us this idea of welcoming all who welcome all.

To begin, I know that there were a number of you who hoped for a different outcome to my call. I’d like to hear from you.  I want to listen to your concerns and your fears, as well as your hopes and your dreams.  I’d invite you to write me a letter, or make an appointment – after Thanksgiving, perhaps.  I promise I will not take your vote personally or hold it against you – I will respect you – in this, and in all things, to come to your own conclusions.  That is what a free church must ultimately continue to affirm – a trust and a faith in the people to freely choose – and to respectfully disagree.  There is no coercion in covenant – choice is perpetual, and choice is powerful.

And just as importantly, for those who are excited about the outcome, I’d love to hear from you as well.  What inspires you, and how do you see yourself fitting in the journey ahead? And, what questions do you have? What ideas, hopes, needs?

Far beyond this moment, over time, any of us may disagree around small or big things.  If we are to do anything of vision or purpose, we are going to disagree.  That is ok! We can disagree and stay in relationship – that is the big and crazy idea behind “we need not think alike to love alike.”  Paraphrasing the Rev. Kirk Loadman-Copeland, we are not going to be like-minded.  Let us strive instead to be like-hearted.  Our hearts affirm that behind our differences, something more important connects us.  And so at any given time throughout our shared ministry that you find yourself disagreeing – let’s talk about it.  Let’s trust each other enough to assume good intent; and trust that we are all committed to what we understand as the good for this congregation.

In her Facebook post on Monday after the vote, Board member Gale Whitman reflected on the past 48 hours, and shared this hope: “Let’s work together to build a better tomorrow; the world needs us!” I couldn’t have said it better.  There are so many places in our world today where life is at risk, and all around us the earth itself is at risk – our world – and we – need us to work together in service of our shared affirmation that all are worthy of love and belonging, and we are all in this together.  We need all of us.  Let’s keep moving forward, together.

With love, and HUGE gratitude,
Gretchen

12247179_10208153128252899_4160623623448937567_n

May Grace Be With You! from Jennifer Powell, President, Board of Trustees

I am writing to you on behalf of the Board of Trustees, as we are in the middle of Candidating Week, a first in almost 25 years for Foothills, and the third time in the past 40 years! It is an exciting time.

Whether you were present this past Sunday or not, I hope you are able to attend as many of the other events scheduled for Candidating week today through Sunday, to see and hear Rev. Gretchen Haley in the role of senior minister. We started the week hearing her moving and powerful sermon on Sunday followed by a great luncheon. We are looking forward to her next sermon on Sunday, 11/15 before the special congregational meeting held at 10:30am where we will vote on whether to call her as senior minister.  You can find all the events here.

The Board has observed as well as participated alongside you through this entire process that began early last March when we called the entire congregation to learn who we most trusted within our community to be on the Ministerial Search Committee. This team our congregation created from that effort has been working daily since then for us.  I for one couldn’t have been more comforted by the selection, knowing the integrity each individual would bring, as well as their range of representing so many of us at Foothills.

Since last March, The Ministerial Search Committee has put in countless hours of incredible, often tedious work, meeting with us, listening to us, learning who we are as a congregation, and then representing us in the search for our new senior minister. The Board has been inspired by their concentration and care throughout the process. They have led us all through this process to this point with a profound amount of grace. Ed, Sue, Lyndy, Steve, Judy, and Julie –  on behalf of the Board, and as a member of Foothills, I thank each of you for this incredible contribution and service you have given to Foothills.

Due to our personal experiences as congregation members as well as church leaders, the data collected and analyzed from all of us, the Board and I received the Ministerial Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation of Rev. Gretchen Haley as the best candidate for our new Senior Minister with elation. Many of us have worked closely with her over the past three years she has been at Foothills, and it has been an honor and an inspiration to see and be a part of her ministry at work.

The last thing I wish say to you all is a big thank you. We have all been through a lot these past 18 months of interim. Thank you for your passionate voices, concerns, emails, letters, phone calls, voicemails, meetings, lunches, acknowledgments, the Sunday morning smiles and hugs, and even the shrugs. Thank you for your grace moving through this time. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t always felt great. The grace that has been present throughout, is what makes us who we are here at Foothills. We are an incredible community of diversity where love is the spirit of this church and service is its law.

I look forward to being with hopefully as many of you as possible this week and Sunday as we come together to be inspired and to vote.

With love, service and grace,

Jennifer Powell