Seeking Partners in a Shared Creation

It’s the time of year where we are actively looking ahead to the new year and seeking out new partners to be a part of this great shared ministry that allows us to serve our mission and bring greater life and love to both those within our congregation, as westewardshipll as far beyond.

If you are seeking to serve and offer your gifts in the congregation, take a look at this list and see if there’s something here that may be a fit for you – that place where service and joy overlap.  If you’re interested in learning more, and finding your place in the partnership of our congregation, please let Rev. Haley know at gretchen@foothillsuu.org.

  • Hospitality Learning Community – We are looking for those who care about making this a welcoming congregation for all who arrive or who have been here for a long time.  The “Learning Community” aspect means that rather than a set agenda, this group tries to ask questions and learn ways to better practice hospitality as a congregation, and brings these experiments and ideas back to our wider congregation. Time Commitment: Monthly gatherings for learning and building connections with others, and then additional time based on the experiments and learnings the group discovers.  We ask for at least a one year commitment.
  • Auction Team – Now seeking partners in putting on our annual goods and services auction.  This is a great way to have a big impact on the congregation and our mission, and throw a big party along the way! We’re looking for people who are good at organizing others and a fun event, those who enjoy reaching out to the congregation as well as the wider community for donations, and then we also need help with data entry and details. There are a few different jobs, and we’ll work with you to make it work.   Time Commitment: Varies based on the role, but is concluded by November 2016 when the auction occurs.
  • Grocery Cards – Our longtime volunteer overseeing our Grocery card sales is retiring.  We need someone who is detail oriented and who loves to make a major impact behind the scenes to step in and manage this important fundraiser for the church. Time commitment: Weekly in-office and some outreach to wider community.
  • Religious Exploration Teachers – We are beginning to think about RE Teachers for children and youth for the fall.  No experience necessary. This is a great way for you to go deeper into your faith journey and Unitarian Universalism – by teaching our kids! Eleanor makes this easy and meaningful for all who teach.  Time Commitment: Twice a month, along with an orientation session at the beginning of each church year.
  • Small Group Leaders – We are hoping to launch a number of new groups in the fall, and we have a good number of leaders who are wanting to step back.  Maybe you’d be interested in facilitating a group as they grow in self-awareness, understanding, connection with others, and courage in living the life they hope to live….? This is an incredibly meaningful way to serve and give.  There is training and ongoing support if you are interested – as well as many different options for day and time.  Time Commitment: Varies – after an initial 3 hour training, groups can run for 4-10 sessions if they are “closed” once the initial registration is set, or indefinitely if they regularly find ways to integrate new people.
  • Office help – We are always in need of a little extra help in the office – filing, printing, sorting, organizing, data entry, answering phones……everything! Time Commitment: Can be one-time or ongoing, very flexible!
  • Finance Team – If you love numbers and budgets, this is the place for you! We meet monthly and review the current cash flow and budget, as well as other financial reports.  We try to catch financial challenges the church may be facing early, and brainstorm ways to address it.  We work directly with the Administrator and the Senior Minister, and have a strong ongoing dialogue with the Board.  Time Commitment: Monthly meetings.
  • Caring Cards – We are always looking for a few more folks willing to help at our Caring Cards Table. These cards are a great way for our congregation to send our love and support to someone through a difficult – or joyous – time in their lives.  Those who staff it also end up hearing about other joys and sorrows in people’s lives, and os it is important that this person be a good listener and someone people feel comfortable talking to and with.  Time Commitment: Sign up for as few or as many Sunday services as you would like!
  • Ushers and Visitor’s Table Greeters on Sundays: Although it is going pretty well with our groups filling Sunday roles, there are often still gaps.  We could use about 10 new people to sign up as “Free Rangers,” which means, we’ll call you if the group can’t find enough people for their service.  Ushering and greeting are among the best way to meet new people – and you’ll be going a long ways towards making this a more hospitable congregation.  Time Commitment: Could be one Sunday, or multiple.  Can be both services, or just one.
  • Meals Team: It can mean so much when one in our community is sick or has experienced a loss, or whose spouse or other family member is injured or ill, for another in our community to bring a hot meal.  We are always looking for people willing to be on the list to bring a meal when it is needed.  Once you’re on the list, you get an email when meals are needed, and then you can sign up for a slot that works for you.  Time Commitment: Bring one meal, or many – based on your schedule and capacity.

Again, if there’s something here that strikes you as a fit for your gifts and skills, let Rev. Haley know.  If there’s nothing here that quite fits, but you still are trying to find a deeper connection and ownership in the church, please let Kathryn our office assistant – kathryn@foothillsuu.org or 493-4906 – know so that she can track your interest on our gifts and service database.

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Our Coordinated Caring Team

When someone connected to our congregation has a concern, life transition, or something going on in their life, our hope is that we can connect with them in the spirit of our covenant, bringing a sense of a larger presence to those moments in life when it is so important not to feel alone.  Sometimes that “presence” is simply a phone call or a visit, sometimes it is a card from your friends at church; other times it is a ride to church, or a whole series of home cooked meals during a difficult time; and sometimes it is a combination of all of these things.

Over the past few years, our caring team has been expanding and developing to meet all the various needs for presence in our congregations, responding to the growing and changing size and needs of our community.   Here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers about our caring team.  Please let us know if you have a question about something not listed here!

In partnership, Jacqui Wallace, Kay Hood, Bonnie Inscho, Cam Elvheim, and Rev. Gretchen Haley – lead team members for Caring at Foothills 

How do you tell us about a concern, life transition, illness, injury, or something else going on, including a joy? 

  • We ask you to either call the church office at 493-5906 or email caring@foothillsuu.org, or complete the online form here: foothillsuu.org/joys-and-concerns/.
  • You might also go ahead and share about it in the Sunday Joys and Sorrows book, now placed for your privacy in the sanctuary by the sound booth window.
  • All of these will get routed to the On-Call Caring Team Member.

Who should tell us about someone’s concern? 

  • If you know about something going on in someone’s life and have a general sense that it is something the person would be fine with their church’s caring team knowing about, you are welcome to send a note or call us on their behalf, especially when they are not able.
  • Of course, we always welcome and encourage you to share about yourself, for yourself, as well!

Who receives the information when I share it with the church?

  • The information is always routed to our On-Call Caring Team Member who will reach out directly to the person experiencing the concern, expressing our congregation’s caring presence, as well as assessing other needs.
  • It is also always shared with Rev. Haley, and recorded onto our Caring Log so we can be sure to follow up and check in with you.

Who fills the On-Call Team Member role? How does that work? 

  • Our Parish Visitors team rotate in filling the On-Call role – every two weeks.  When it is their turn, they receive the notices of caring concerns, and reach out to the individual directly.  They also see if the individual could use meals, or rides, or a contact from a minister, and generally offer the caring presence on behalf of our congregation.
  • If the individual does need rides, meals, or other support, the On-Call person makes a referral to the lead for the particular area.

What is a Parish Visitor? 

  • A Parish Visitor is a church member who – after applying, interviewing, receiving a background check and proper training – visits with a church member who is either unable to get to church due to injury or illness, or who appreciates a little extra conversation and listening during a time of need from a fellow church member.
  • These Visitors work directly with Rev. Haley, meeting with her at least every-other-month for check-ins and direction.  They also keep Rev. Haley apprised of all of their visits, and work with her directly whenever particular issues may arise.
  • The Parish Visitor program started about 2 years ago, near the end of Rev. Salkin’s time with the congregation, and is a way to ensure that we are better able to reach out and walk with more of our large community.  It is also one of the best ways we express our covenant and our commitment to a shared ministry.
  • Our ministerial team is still always available for appointments for pastoral support.  Reach out to them directly to make an appointment to meet.

Who are the leads for the caring roles?

  • Kay Hood fills the lead role for our Parish Visitors, so when a new Visitor assignment is needed, she works with Rev. Haley to make that assignment.
  • Currently we are in need of a new lead for our meals team, although Jacqui Wallace has been filling in until we are able to fill this role.  This is an important yet not-too-time-consuming role of reaching out to a person in need, to their primary circle of community in the church, and to our regular volunteers who bring meals to those who need a meal, and sets up a meal coordination website for all of these folks to bring meals in a way that meets the needs of the individuals.
  • Currently we rely on an informal network to support our rides, as we recognize that we aren’t able to offer too many rides too often.  We do our best when we are able, and otherwise we help an individual to connect with other supports.
  • Kay Hood and Jacqui Wallace both help ensure that there is support for receptions for Memorial Services.

Is this the same as the “Caring Committee?” How is it different? 

  • While all the elements of the Caring Committee still exist, we have decided not to meet as a whole Committee on a regular basis – because we found that with the Parish Visitor program and our On-Call system, it was redundant.  Instead, people can just jump in and provide the support – no meeting required!
  • So if you know someone needs meals, instead of contacting a “committee,” just use our caring@foothillsuu.org email, or contact the office, and we will coordinate directly with the Meal team.

How can I sign up to help with meals when they are needed? 

How can I sign up to be a lead for either rides or meals? 

How can I sign up or learn more about the Parish Visitor role? 

What if I have other questions about the Caring Team or other elements of Foothills Pastoral Care support? 

A light in dark places…

Reed and GrandmaTrue confession…I am a somewhat frequent user of facebook. I really enjoy sharing the joyful events in my life and seeing pictures of my friend’s adventures, vacations and throwback Thursday reminiscences. Since I have recently become a grandma I have become one of those annoying people who posts baby pictures. But lately, things are getting downright depressing out there in cyberland. The ugliness and angry rhetoric from all sides has made me feel frightened, sad and sometimes a little hopeless. I am sure that like me, you are longing for the election cycle to be over already!

I have also asked myself, what can I do, as a liberal religious person, to help shine a light in this deeply troubled world? That is when I find myself feeling grateful to serve Foothills Unitarian Church, because I believe that we, as a liberal religious community, are uniquely positioned to make a difference, to be a light in dark places (I couldn’t resist another Lord of the Rings reference after Gretchen’s Gollum sermon last Sunday.) We can speak up and tell our children that it is not OK to use angry, violent, divisive words against people who believe differently than we do. We can help them to process their pain and confusion when they see it happening in the media or in their school or neighborhood. We can learn about the experiences of oppressed and marginalized people within and beyond our church and how we can be allies. We can learn and develop spiritual tools to sustain us and ground us and then we can keep working to help create a world where every soul is worthy and we are all connected. We can do this at all ages and stages of life. Our Foothills community can be a place of great support and comfort in these troubled times.

Some things coming up for families with children –

Join us for our next Parent Coffee Chat on Sunday April 20th at 10:10 in RE Room 13 to talk about how we can take Unitarian Universalism Home. We will hear a few ideas for bringing the theology of Unitarian Universalism into our families lives on a daily basis.

In June we will offer our annual Kids Summer Day Camp. Our June church theme will be “Simplicity” and our camp theme is “Simple Gifts.”  Our camp will be held June 6th -10th from 9:00 – 3:30 for kids ages 5-12. We will spend a week enjoying the simple gifts of time in nature, games, music and art. It will be a chance to return to a simpler way of living in harmony with or environment and each other. Camp tuition is $130 for the full week. REGISTER  HERE. Some scholarships are available. Contact me at eleanorv@foothillsuu.org for more information about scholarships. And we are looking for several youth counselors to help with camp! It is a great opportunity for youth in 8th-12th grades to gain work experience as leaders and spend a week with awesome Foothills kids and youth. APPLY HERE to be a youth counselor.

During our camp training last year we had a guest presenter who asked the youth why they wanted to serve as counselors. Almost every youth answered that they wanted to provide the same wonderful camp experience that they had at Foothills when they were young for this new generation of kids! That warmed my heart and it gives me hope that we are making a difference in small and big ways. We can be a light in dark places.

In faith & service

Eleanor Van Deusen – Director of Religious Exploration

Climate Justice Month is Almost Here! from Misti Sharp and your Climate Justice Team

climate justice month 2Climate change and climate action have become familiar phrases to most of us. We believe that man-made alterations in our world are influencing the climate and that action on our parts are required. Here at Foothills, we have a Climate Justice Ministry and are planning a time of commitment for our members via a “Climate Justice Month.” Many of you may be wondering, “What is climate justice?” In general, it is at the intersections between all of the struggles for justice (racism, sexism, ageism and more!) and how to create a world that accounts for the needs of all people. It affirms that those with the least power should not bear the biggest burdens of climate change and that we must take a moral stand and develop solutions that recognize our interconnectedness. For more information, visit this wonderful site and sign up for daily emails regarding all of the injustices related to climate change.

In order to bring about awareness and a time of intentional reflection regarding our interconnectedness, Climate Justice Month, from World Water Day (March 22nd) through Earth Day (April 22nd), is an opportunity for UU’s and other people of faith and conscience to collectively commit to climate action. This commitment can take many forms. One thing we are asking each congregant to do is to commit to making a change in our own households habits for use of water and energy, recognizing how this impacts the interconnected web. This commitment should reflect an impulse from each church member to do something more than what they would typically do. Some options we are suggesting for church members:

  • Abstain (or significantly cut back) from consumption of red meat
  • Take 5 minute showers or less and/or reduce water use on lawns
  • Biking or walking when possible instead of driving a car
  • Reduce trash within the household by recycling, composting AND reducing
  • Take the sustainability challenge with the Lose-A-Watt app (instructions coming!)
  • Can you think of others?

If you are interested in becoming even more engaged, please join us for our Climate Justice kick-off workshop on Sunday, March 20th from 12:30-2, featuring: 

  • A delicious vegetarian lunch
  • Meaningful religious context with music to set our tone
  • Followed by Heidi Wagner from the City of Fort Collins challenging residents to “lose-a-watt” and make other in-house adjustments to reduce energy use in homes and raise awareness around energy efficiency.
  • Opportunities for children to reflect on their commitments to the earth
  • Please RSVP so we can provide enough food and energy kits for everyone!

We have additional opportunities for you to reflect on the problems posed by climate change over the course of the month. Check out the following opportunities for group-oriented reflection:

  • Tuesday, April 5th at 6:30: discussion of The Green Boat by Mary Pipher (books are available for check-out in the church office).
  • Friday, April 8th at 6:30: Film Showing: “Climate Refugees” followed by a discussion.
  • Sunday, April 10th at 12:30: discussion of This Spaceship Earth by David Houle and Tim Rumage.
  • Friday, April 15th at 6:30: “Grief and Praise: An Embodied, Expressive Music-Packed Down-to-Earth Gathering for All” led by Christopher Watkins and Young Adults.
  • Tuesday, April 19th at 6:30: Film Showing: “Bidder 70” followed by a discussion.
  • Sunday, April 24th at 8:00 am: bike or carpool to church early in order to have a free breakfast followed by a reflection on our individual and group impact.

We really hope you can join us for some (or all!) of these events. Please let Misti Sharp (mistisharp@gmail.com) know if you would like to help organize any of these events or if you want to be involved in future planning efforts by the climate justice ministry. Our mission is to empower the congregation to live sustainably and to give voice to our values in the political process.

Getting Into Focus

When the board met on February 22, we discussed all the good work being done within our congregation. We all feel spring is in the air. We discussed what we are working on, and what we want to accomplish before our time on the board this year is complete. Here are the areas we are currently focused on, and will be focused on right up to July 1st.

Hopefully all of you know about our Mission Task Force made up of five current board members who met with many of you between services in January to review what we have used in the past for our Mission, as well as discuss what a mission is for, and why we are looking at creating a new one to better reflect who Foothills is today, as well as what inspires us as well as our visitors. We collected many helpful ideas, visions, and words to apply to our new mission. The task force will be presenting a draft version of our new mission to see how it sits with all of us, then they will do some more work on it before they will present it at our annual Congregational meeting for a vote on June 5th.

Our Governance Task Force, which is made up of 2 board members, 3 congregation-at-large members, and Rev. Howell Lind, has now met a number of times. They are well on their way doing the good long work of discovering, creating, sharing, and trying on the best suited governance for Foothills. As we have shared before, this work will take about two years of their time. They are working closely with the model in Governance and Ministry by Dan Hotchkiss.

The Task Force looks forward to gathering information from all of you between services this coming Sunday March 6th, March 13th, 20th and April 3rd in the sanctuary at 10:10am – 10:45am.  They will use your feedback in these sessions to evaluate and updating our governance structure. These first sessions are primarily to collect concerns and questions from the congregation. They will share some of what they have been doing and what they expect to happen as we move through this process but mostly right now they just want to hear from you. Please join us for at least one of these important discussions.

The Board has been working with Rev. Gretchen Haley and a board appointed advisory team made up of one board member and 3 congregation-at-large members to interview and submit a candidate to the board for our new assistant minister position. The Board is happy to share that Foothills UU has received a number of excellent applicants, making this an exciting process, and we will hire this one-year, renewable contract position soon. The new assistant minister will start their position August 1st, just a month after Rev. Haley begins officially as senior minister.

I am happy to share that our Stewardship campaign that started two weeks ago is going very well! Thank you to all of you who have pledged thus far! Thank you for your generosity and commitment to the good work being done by this amazing community. I am very excited for what is ahead! For those who haven’t pledged yet, I ask that you please turn in your pledge cards as soon as you can. I must thank Kay Williams and her dedicated team who kicked off the campaign in church these past two Sundays with great success and some chaotic fun!

The other big areas the board will be focused on the remainder of this church year will be continuing our communication efforts with you all, as well as focusing on strengthening our leadership development for new leaders here at Foothills. Our next Informational Forum given by the Board and Howell will be held on April 10th after the 11am service. This will be the last time we are having this type of informational meeting before our annual congregational meeting on June 5th. At the informational forum we will continue to share the work the board is up to, how we are doing after the stewardship campaign, and it will be another opportunity for us to listen to you.

As we continue to grow, so does the skills and needs of our church leaders. This has been recognized for a while by many church leaders, and this church year we have made a great effort at better preparing these generous volunteers. This year we have begun delivering quality leadership development workshops to those who have shown an interest in becoming a leader, are currently leading, and are on our nominating committee. We will be having our next leadership development opportunities on Wednesday, March 30th and Wednesday April 6th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. If you are interested in attending please speak to one of our ministers.

I want to end this blog by simply saying I have the honor to serve you in the company of an incredible Board of Trustees. This is a team of wonderfully dedicated volunteers who are generous, thoughtful, funny, and visionary. We are committed to representing all of you. We look forward to helping prepare next year’s “dream team” Board…and we thank each of you who make Foothills UU the special congregation it is.