Why does Foothills exist?

The Board of Trustees’ Mission Task Force asked for your input on our first attempt at an answer (APRIL 26 BLOG POST TITLED WHY DOES FOOTHILLS UNITARIAN CHURCH EXIST) and we heard you!

While many congregants responded favorably to our first draft, we heard constructive feedback that challenged us to:

  • Shorten the statement so it’s easier to remember and summarize.
  • Better represent our positive, welcoming church community.
  • Clarify the statement theologically.
  • Strengthen it to convey what we are called to do.

The task force has incorporated input from dialogue sessions with congregants as well as from the online survey.  Our revised version received preliminary approval from the Board July 19, and we are pleased to share it now with you:

Foothills Unitarian Church unleashes courageous love in Northern Colorado and beyond by embracing our diversity,
growing our faith, and awakening our spirits to the unfolding meaning of this life.

 We really like the new version because:

  • It is shorter, and the first phrase is especially easy to memorize while capturing the essence of why we exit. Plus, it builds on what was so compelling about our 2014 working statement: “Further the reach of love.”
  • It is a little edgy, challenging us to live into our considerable potential.
  • It articulates what might be considered the Unitarian Universalist “brand” for those who are unfamiliar with our faith. No other church invites members to discern for themselves the meaning of life.
  • It emphasizes this life, not some future reward.

We appreciate all the thoughtful feedback you provided to help us refine the statement.   We hope you are pleased with the results and that you will consider voting to approve it at a future congregational meeting.  But first, we want to hear more from you!

  • Email the task force with your feedback at mission@foothillsuu.org.
  • Come to a dialogue session with task force members at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, August 14, in the sanctuary.
  • Share your reflections with your Board of Trustees at the Start-Up Breakfast August 27.
  • Join Board members for a discussion at the Buckhorn Church Retreat Labor Day Weekend.


Here are more reasons why we selected a word or phrase.

Foothills Unitarian Church unleashes courageous love in Northern Colorado and beyond by embracing our diversity,
growing our faith, and awakening our spirits to the unfolding meaning of this life.

Foothills Unitarian Church Naming our church within our mission statement is important because we are a church and it differentiates our church from others.  It also defines who the actors are in this statement and lifts up the important concept of community.  We – collectively – are the church community and the church is us.
unleashes We are a community with potential that has yet to be fully realized. We intentionally chose this strong word because it describes the powerful force we can be in realizing the future we envision.  It also conveys our understanding that all the love we need already exists within, between, and beyond us, and our task is to make it real in the world.
courageous love Love is the spirit of this church and will continue to be. This is not just any love – courageous love describes the love that transforms and heals both personally and communally, the love that connects all of life.  Courageous love emboldens us to create the world of justice and wholeness, the vision of Beloved Community. Working together for justice and leading justice efforts are both reasons for being and our aspirations for how we are known.
In Northern Colorado and beyond We are the largest UU church in this growing area and we have articulated an aspiration to be a resource church.  We desire to be a force for change and a leader in our broader community and in the wider world.
by This word signals that which follows summarizes ways we as a church community make possible our potential for unleashing courageous love.
embracing We joyfully welcome all who welcome all.
our diversity, We draw wisdom from diverse sources.  We are diverse – or aspire to be more diverse – in our demographics.  We are strengthened by our diverse perspectives and, especially, as we transcend them.  Our practice of remaining in covenant despite our differences is a powerful tool in the work ahead.
growing Spiritual growth, faith formation, and growing ourselves, our children, and our youth as UUs are highly valued endeavors we support with quality programming.
our faith, This has two meanings: personal religious faith and our Unitarian Universalist faith tradition.  Our community supports those for whom a personal experience of faith is important and necessary.  We also are committed to growing Unitarian Universalism as we affirm our seven principles and all they entail.
and awakening our spirits This speaks to our fundamental reason for gathering together for worship and sharing our joys, sorrows and gratitude.  The word “awakened” also resonates with the cultural moment and the need to be awakened to injustice and to respond with our witness and courageous love.
to the unfolding meaning This is an important theological element that distinguishes our UU tradition.  In our covenantal rather than creedal faith, we are called to be active participants in discerning what is true.  Because revelation is not sealed, the meaning of life continues to unfold to us.  This also speaks to what brings many people to our church to begin with: we seek to make sense of our lives, and we find here a community that holds us and helps us as we search.
of this life. Unlike many other faith traditions, ours is focused on this life and not on the hereafter.  This underscores the relevance of what our church community offers here and now.



Highlights from General Assembly from Foothills Delegates

Five Foothills members – in addition to our current and future ministerial team Rev. Gretchen Haley, Diana McLean, and Sean Neil-Barron, attended the UU General Assembly (GA) in Columbus, Ohio, the last week of June.  It was, as always a powerful and somewhat overwhelming experience of learning, encouraging and clarifying all who gathered in our faith, values, and sense of purpose.

One of our delegates, Erin Hottenstein, shared her highlights from GA in her reflection last week.  This week, we invited the other four delegates to share their one big take-away from their GA experience.  Here’s what they had to say:

  1.  The powerful Sunday Morning Worship experience.

Judy Ohs writes, “I looked forward to Sunday morning at GA, remembering the last time I attended it was a very moving service, and I was not disappointed.

Glen Thomas Rideout was in charge of the music and choir, which was awesome.  He also read a poem he had written about the anture of God, saying god is waiting to be unshrunk!

Nancy McDonald Ladd gave a sermon, ‘In All Thy Getting, Get Understanding,’ with as much energy, humor and meaningful challenge as any I have ever heard.  She admonished us to ‘STOP having FALSE FIGHTS’ in our congregations – those fights about insignificant things like ‘the color of the paint for the bathroom,’ and instead get out in the mainstream of our lives, resisting things harmful to ourselves and others, and promoting the things needed for just living for all.  She said when we don’t get our way, we are ‘lovers of leaving’ (referencing the hymn, Come, Come, who ever you are), and that we need to put our personal preferences aside, and instead have the real and hard conversations with each other.  Only this will allow us to create real change, rather than becoming thoroughly agitated, but fundamentally unchanged.  She ended by saying that we need to ‘step more fully into encounters with the holy and the world,’ and in doing so we can love more and speak more.  We can reach out to someone whose hand is near to find support and keep it real.  The service ended with us all singing ‘Reach out and Touch Somebody’s Hand.’

It is my sincere hope that each of you will take the time to watch this service (video posted above).  It will lift your spirit and challenge your soul, and perhaps help you move out into the world to help create the change we need.”

Lindsay Smith added: “I have one request of our Foothills family: please watch the Sunday service. I found it deeply moving and hope we can use it as a common point of reference going forward.”

        2.  The welcome for young adults.


Lindsay Smith writes: “As a first-time delegate to General Assembly, I appreciated the Planning Committee’s dedication to creating a welcoming space for young adults. Not only did the UUA set aside resources to help young adults get to GA, but supported us the whole week. We had dedicated staff and seating blocked off in the large general sessions. We even had ‘General Session Bingo’ to keep things interesting.

Many times I went back to the helpful guide on young adult programming in our (jam-packed!) schedule. I attended workshops on topics from interfaith work to the role of spirituality in mental health. I was happy to see many folks of other generations participating with us, too.

I was overjoyed to represent our congregation in the banner parade alongside my partner Nick. I felt proud to represent our Foothills community and loved seeing Rev. Gretchen, our president Erin, our new minister Sean, and many others cheering for us as we sang through the aisles.

Then, it was time to get down to business. The overarching theme of this year’s GA was racial justice. Youth and young adult UUs of color inspired me by sharing their deeply personal stories. They called us to immediate action with strength, courage, and love. Workshops on anti-racism helped start some of the uncomfortable but necessary conversations that need to take place among UUs and in the wider community.

GA left me inspired to connect with UUs both inside our home church and beyond. It was great to compare notes with delegates from churches across the country.

         3. The Choir 


Nick Marconi writes, ‘Choir is a decision.’ These are the words with which Dr. Glen Rideout opened each rehearsal at GA, offering various reflections on the notion. Choir is a setting aside of time to come together and join in fellowship and purpose. Choir is the realization of the idea that we are stronger and more capable working in harmony—the embodiment of the mantra, “I put my hand in yours so that we may do together what we cannot do alone.” Choir is no mere blending of voices; it is a congregation, and it is deliberate.

In a week where very little else seemed deliberate, 180 of us dedicated ourselves to bringing the Sunday worship services to life. For me, it wasn’t the size of the choir or the audience that brought great meaning; 180 celebrants performing for a crowd of 3,000 is neither the largest ensemble nor audience I’ve experienced—even in Columbus itself, a city I had called home for many years. The real meaning came from the unity of purpose in a room that had lacked it over the course of several painful general sessions. The morning service brought renewed focus to disparate hearts. The afternoon service with Rev. Sekou and The Holy Ghost granted catharsis for those of us who have become all-too- frustrated not only with the prevailing tragedies of the world, but also with the perennial failures of conscience emerging from GA.

I cannot understand how we as a movement fail time and again to make meaningful solidarity with oppressed peoples. I cannot fathom the denominational cognitive dissonance it takes to be so moved by the reminder of our continual need to improve our relationships with minority communities and speak hard truths to those we call allies yet shirk away when called to take action. I pity what Rev. Dr. Susan Ritchie calls our institutional addiction to dysfunctional process that truly impairs our ability to live up to our best vision of ourselves.

I have little, if any, control over the course of global events or the UUA. But just as I had in GA, I can still choose to share music in my small part of the world. Choir is a decision, and I will always make that decision.”

4.  Commitments for Social Witness

Shirley White writes, “CSWAIWCS/AI  Huh?  I put my volunteer efforts at GA here, hoping it would give me knowledge I could share back home. Indeed, it did! Wanting to support this important work of our denomination, still I had to keep refreshing myself on what all those letters mean. They mean a lot! They imply work too important to be buried in acronyms and jargon.So let me translate….

Commission on Social Witness (CSW) supports our efforts to do our social justice work focused each year by choices made at GA, to concentrate our efforts on work that we are best, perhaps uniquely, poised to do in our troubled world.

Congregational Study/Action Issues (CS/AI) are selected by UU member congregations for four years of study, reflection and action. This year, delegates picked our next four-year Congregational Study/Action Issue to beCorruption of Our Democracy.”

Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs) are issues deemed too immediate and important to go through a four year process. The Commissioners narrowed 8 completed proposals to 3, which the GA delegates passed overwhelmingly.

  1. expressing solidarity with Muslims,
  2. advocating gun reform following the Pulse nightclub massacre,
  3. affirming support for transgender people.

All will be further developed and highlighted in UU World.

We, at Foothills, do a lot of very important work. We might even be a standard bearer in the denomination. We could be more fully bringing our light to UUA/GA, by defining and proclaiming our commitment, particularly by sharing our successful collaboration with other communities and organizations in Fort Collins. Among others, we excel in programs of community collaboration in Faith Family Hospitality, One Village One Family, and  our ministerial leadership in vigils and actions of solidarity with our minority communities in times of stress and trauma visited upon them in our troubled times.

We have light to offer, as well as the opportunity to bask in the healing light that our denomination shines on the world’s pain. By engaging with the UUA, we can do more, especially by learning and engaging with social witness statement process we may accomplish more, and even be prepared to bring more of Foothills light to GA in New Orleans, 2017.

Welcoming New Trustees to the Board by Erin Hottenstein, President, Board of Trustees

Trustee: one to whom something is entrusted.

At Foothills Unitarian Church each year we elect trustees to the Board of Trustees. The word choice here is important. These people are our friends and neighbors. They have shared with us their enthusiasm for and dedication to our church community. They have worked side-by-side with us, helping us to build and grow and become even more the people and the place we want to be.

These people have earned our respect. Each of us in this church community, the Nominating Committee, the ministers and staff can see and feel the commitment that they bring.

And so we place our trust in them. We place our confidence in them that they will bring their best selves to the work of the church. We trust that they will continue to provide the leadership and the guidance – as trustees of this church have been doing since 1898 – that helps to create life-changing and life-giving experiences both within our walls and out in the larger world.

This year’s new trustees are no different. They have earned our respect and our confidence. In case you haven’t met the four of them, let me introduce them now and you may read their biographies below. Ed Beers is joining the Board as President-Elect, a three-year term. Sara Edwards is our new Secretary-Elect, a two-year term. Karen Johnese and April Undy are our new Members-at-Large and will serve two-year terms. I hope that you will help me warmly welcome them to their new roles and join me in entrusting them with the vital work of the church.

 Ed Beers – President Elect
Ed found Foothills immediately after relocating from Southern California and the Pasadena Neighborhood UU Church.  They moved to Fort Collins to be closer to their children and grandchildren living in Laporte and Golden.  Linda is a retired nurse and Ed retired as an Engineer and Plant Manager.  Both Linda and Ed were active in the Pasadena Church as Chalice Group Leaders.  Ed is a member of the Foothill’s Men’s Group and he and Linda  were co-chairs of the Hospitality Committee for several years. Ed most recently served as the chair of the Senior Minister Search Committee.


Sara EdwardsSara Edwards – Secretary Elect
“In addition to growing in love and friendship with the wonderful people at Foothills over the last four years, I have also participated in many rewarding activities. For four years I have been a grateful member of the choir and twice participated in Cabaret. Last year I served on the Associate Minister Advisory Committee and was part of a One Village One Family family. This year I am serving on the Assistant Minister Search Committee. In the future I look forward to continuing to share my love of singing, but also expanding into my interest in massage and penchant for note taking. In addition to many people, I love dogs and horses, travel and DIY organization projects.”


Karen JohneseKaren Johnese – Member at Large
In the three short years since becoming a member of Foothills I’ve been an active participant in Sunday hospitality, a soul circle, Slightly Senior Sisters’ lunch organizing (SSS),  and an SSS small group. I have served on the Stewardship Committee and volunteered for Faith Family Hospitality (FFH). I am now a coordinator for our FFH rotations and serve on the board of this nonprofit. I have also been teaching an ESL student through our program with La Familia.

My work world over the past fifty years has been rich in experiences that support my service to this church. With Masters Degrees in special education and social work, and short-term careers in both fields, then 11 years as a newspaper community affairs director, four years as an arts nonprofit director, and current role on a corporate board, I have come to understand nonprofits from many perspectives. I have served on numerous boards and am committed to excellent board service. My time within the Unitarian Church has been brief, but I believe my collaborative style, board experience and love for the people within this church community compensate for that short history.

My husband, Daniel and I have lived in Colorado for six years, following my son and his family here. I spend much of my time with my son’s two daughters, now 4 and 8 years old. And we lure our Pittsburgh 11 and 13 year-old grandsons here as often as possible to enjoy the natural world with us.

April Undy BOT pictureApril Undy – Member at Large
April Undy has a B.S. in Environmental Engineering and has homeschooled her children.   April has been involved with Foothills Unitarian Church for over 17 years.  She became a member of Foothills after teaching her oldest’s  pre-school and kindergarten R.E. classes, and has been happy to teach R.E. nearly every year since then.  April joined the church choir in 2006, and started Song Circle in 2008.   In 2009 she was hired as the R.E. Music Assistant at Foothills, a position she held for 2 years.  She is trained as an O.W.L. teacher for grades 7-9 and 10-12.

April is married to Steve Undy, together they have 3 children.  Their oldest just turned 18, so now they get the adventure of being parents of an adult child!

“The community of Foothills is precious.  I am happy to have a chance to give back to the church by being on the board of trustees.”

Board of Trustees 2016 – 2017

Erin Hottenstein, President
970-226-1501, stewardshipgal@gmail.com 

Ed Beers. President Elect
970-482-4566, beersca@aol.com

Scott Denning, Treasurer
970-980-1150, scott.denning@gmail.com

Michelle Venus, Secretary
970-218-7951, michelle@michellevenus.com

Sara Edwards, Secretary Elect
541-215-3978, sara.edwards.rocks@gmail.com

Brian Woodruff, At-large member

Karen Johnese, At-large member
724-612-3562, kjohnese@icloud.com

April Undy, At-large member
970-407-8788, april@roseundy.net

Gale Whitman, At-large member
970-213-0844, gale@galewhitman.com

Meet our newly elected committee members

EndowmChuck Fletcherent
Chuck Fletcher

While I am new to Foothills, I have been on my journey here for two decades.  I look forward to putting my talents to use within a positive, compassionate organization.

I was born in Stuttgart, Germany, to a career US Army family, and have lived in Turkey and throughout the United States.  I have a BA in History and a Master’s Degree in Operations Research (applied math).  I served 20 years in the US Air Force, during which I was involved in B-52 operations, helped build the DoD six-year budget plan, established two policy research centers, and helped write two nuclear arms reduction treaties.

After the Air Force, I established a financial advisory firm in Florida, having obtained my NASD Series 7 (General Securities) and 66 (law and regulations) certifications, various insurance licenses (life, health, variable annuity), and completed the Certified Financial Planner program.  I also wrote the endowment plan for the 1st Methodist Church of Saint Augustine.  I later joined the technical consulting firm SAIC, managing a multi-disciplinary science and engineering team assessing the operational implications to USAF forces of being attacked with chemical or biological weapons.

I moved to Fort Collins in 2014 to work for Edward Jones Advisors

Jennifer Jennifer CraneCrane
Jennifer Crane is a Colorado native who has made brief forays of up to four years to the outside world. She has lived in Fort Collins since 1980 and has been involved with Foothills since 1988. Jennifer and her husband, Scott Denning, have two ‘mostly’ grown children who both attended and were enriched by Foothills RE.  She is a plant physiologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service working on seed longevity and preservation. Beyond her work and her family, Jennifer has a passion for prehistoric henges, menhirs, quoits, and dolmens.


Linda BeerLinda Beerss
Linda has been a member of Foothills after relocating from Los Angeles and the Pasadena Neighborhood  UU Church.  She retired as an RN and traveled  in an RV for 10 years (traveling for seven months at a time).  Linda moved to Fort Collins to be closer to her children and grandchildren living in Laporte and Golden.  She was active in the Pasadena UU Church as a Chalice Group Leader.  Here at Foothills, Linda is a founding member of the Senior Sisters, co-chaired the Hospitality Committee and the start-up picnic for three years.  She was also a member of the Interim Minister Search Committee.


Lehne Leverette 2Nominating Committee
Lehne Leverette

Lehne joined Foothills  in 2014, but she’s been coming to church and singing in the choir since 2009. She has seen it grow into a large, vibrant, and caring community. She also volunteers by being a member of the Worship Learning Community and by leading Explorations, SOUUL Circles, and, most recently, participating in a pilot small group called Spiritual Journeys. One of the most meaningful experiences she has had since joining the church is participating in MDD in Denver last year.
She loves singing, acting, making music and cooking. And the color pink. Always pink.


RRich Young 2ich Young
Rich is wrapping up a very interesting three years on the Board, and looks forward to using that experience to help the Nominating Committee develop lay leadership potential throughout the congregation.  He lives in northwest Fort Collins with his wife Lorin, his three sons Calvin, Simon and Elliott, and a lot of bicycles.




Erik MartinsonFinance
Erik Martinson – Chair
Erik is a tax advisor and owner of Taxicology, Inc. He began attending Foothills along with his wife (Stacy Lynn) and children (Aidan (11) and Talia (9)) in 2011. It was not long before he unwittingly agreed to become treasurer-elect and subsequently served as the church’s treasurer for the 2013-14 fiscal year.  Having demonstrated some facility with spreadsheets, he has occupied the chair of the finance committee ever since, waiting patiently to be unseated.



Kay Williams

Kay Williams – Co-Chair
I have been a member of Foothills for 8 years.  I have served on the Membership Team and the Auction Team, and volunteer with Faith Family Hospitality.  This year I was Stewardship Chair.  The Stewardship Team continues to nurture the culture of abundance that has been created here.  We had a busy year, and I would be pleased to continue our work, helping to support our church, in the coming year!  I have two grown sons, and I love to read.  I have a couple of other volunteer gigs outside of church, as well as my work here.   It feels good to make a difference at Foothills, because it has made such a difference to me.


Walt JonesWalt Jones – Co-Chair
Walt Jones graduated from Yale School of Drama with MFA in Directing. He has directed on Broadway, off-Broadway, and written and directed for television. He now teaches Theatre at CSU in Fort Collins. His musical, The 1940s Radio Hour opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre in 1978 (and played Jimmy Carter’s White House Christmas Party in that year). He has always loved swimming, performing magic and entertaining kids. He founded the very popular summer theatre camp Kids Do It All in California in 1991 which is in its fifth very successful summer at CSU and its third in Todos Santos, Mexico (where the camp is bi-cultural and bi-lingual). He is married to Amy Scholl, the funniest person he’s ever met, and has three daughters: Gilliam, Lulu, and Annie (9); so, unfortunately, he has no plans to retire any time soon….


CommitteeGlenn Pearson and Denise Rogers on Ministry
Glenn Pearson – Chair
Glenn has been a Unitarian all his life,  but has only been conscious of it since he and Denise brought their children to Foothills in 2004.  He has volunteered in many areas of the church, and is active with the Brotherhood. Glenn is a worker bee at Poudre Valley Hospital,  is almost an empty nester,  and LOVES Foothills.




Margie WMargie Wagner croppedagner – I grew up in the old Congregational Unitarian Church in Fort Collins.  My husband, Bruce, and I started attending Foothills Unitarian when our children were little.  I had the good fortune to attend Russell Lockwood Leadership School in the 1990s and subsequently served as Chair of the RE Committee and then chaired the effort to design a lifespan RE program.  I served as President of the Board of Trustees in 2000 and served on the Personnel Committee from 2010-2014.  I sing with the Foothills Madrigal Singers and have sung in the choir in the past.  In my professional life, I am the Director of the Center for Adult Learning at FRCC.  I have taught ESL, GED preparation, and basic reading to adults.  I love to teach and I like working with small groups of people.  I’m looking forward to getting involved in church work again.



Anne HAnne Hall FF christmasall
I have been a member of Foothills Unitarian Church since 2004.  During that time I have served in many ways including as president of the Board of Trustees in 2010-2011.  I have also been on the Finance Committee and served as a member of the Committee on Ministry.  I am currently a member of a small group that is part of the Slightly Senior Sisters. I also have been busy these last few years helping coordinate the Adult ESL Tutoring program at the Family Center.  I think my long-term involvement in the church will be an asset to the newly formed Committee on Ministry.



Sue SullivSue Sullivanan
When we moved to Colorado 8 1/2 years ago, Foothills Unitarian was a primary reason we chose to live in Fort Collins, instead of closer to Steve’s work. We joined our first Unitarian Church in Riverside, CA, when our daughter was born in 1999 and helped found a UU Fellowship in Temecula, CA in 2006. At Foothills, I taught in the RE program for several years when my children were young. We greatly value the vibrant, progressive religious community that is Unitarian Universalism.

My career path evolved from daily newspaper reporting to university media relations to parenting and massage therapy. My spiritual path has been largely informed by Buddhism and self-realization inquiry. As a homeschooler, suburban homesteader and aspiring creative, I’m an outside-the-box thinker and have strong communication and people skills to offer. I look forward to serving my Foothills community more deeply again.


Sally Harris


Sally Harris
I am a third-generation Unitarian Universalist and I was raised here at the Foothills Unitarian Church.  I attended various UU churches during my time at college, in law school, and living in Chicago.  I am a dedicated UU who is passionate about helping other people.  While I am a licensed attorney, I love staying at home with our four-year-old son, Oscar.  My hobbies include going hiking and camping, playing foosball, and watching Alex (my husband) perform improv comedy