Music Ministry Visioning Statement

As our church year comes to a close, so does our nearly year-long effort to synthesize and articulate a vision for music ministry and how our congregation sees it manifesting at Foothills and throughout the larger community as we move forward. 

We conducted detailed interviews with some of the top UU music ministers in the nation and with leading music ministers from other liberal religious traditions. We held feedback circles with choir members, parents with children in the RE program, and some of the many musicians in our congregation, asking open-ended questions about how music has, can, and should manifest in their lives and the life of the congregation in support of our mission statement. We conducted an online survey that drew nearly 90 detailed responses. We took all of this feedback and synthesized it into the visioning statement below, which will be handed over to the music minister search committee, to guide their work, which begins in the fall.

In faith,
Sue Sullivan, Gretchen Suetching O’Dell and Herb Orrell


Music Ministry Visioning Statement

Music Ministry at Foothills supports the unleashing of courageous love by empowering the congregation, by helping us to integrate heart, mind, and spirit, by providing us inspiration and opportunities for collaborative worship experiences, and by embodying the message of Foothills to the larger community.

We do this by:

  • Embracing our diversity – we are a safe home for people of all backgrounds and perspectives and we honor and celebrate diverse musical traditions and understand that they can help us become more culturally competent.
  • Growing our faith – through a flexible, multi-faceted music program that involves all members of the congregation and deepens our experience of musicality in our lives.
  • Awakening our spirits – by developing and nourishing a sense of community, connection, joy, and service through the collective experience of music.

Music manifests in our congregation:

  • Through many different year-round options for people to engage in music, including small groups, special music, pop-up choirs, bands, children’s choirs, multi-generational choirs, a general adult choir, Vespers teams, healing choir, song circles, drum circles, and hosting guest musicians.
  • Through a choir that is both a covenantal practice of love, loyalty, and trust, and a service to the congregation, leading and supporting congregational singing.
  • By being collaborative in every possible way, including fostering the musical gifts of lay musicians and engaging in bold and innovative partnerships with other ministries within our church and with community partners and other area churches.
  • By spreading creativity, innovation, and joy, by inspiring social justice engagement, and by furthering the mission of this church.

Our full-time Minister of Music*:

  • Collaborates creatively and enthusiastically to generate meaningful and transformational UU worship experiences.
  • Is playful, eager to build community, foster healing, and inspire commitment.
  • Fosters the integration of the music ministry throughout the life of the church and through their own participation in the life of the church.
  • Brings expertise in emerging congregational practices.
  • Brings a diversity of musical expertise, including strong sight-reading ability.
  • Is a welcoming, inspirational, and organized music leader and teacher, especially for non-professionals, and seeks out and embraces the rich musical talents and abilities in our congregation.
  • Helps us grow in our cultural competence and become a more diverse and welcoming community.
  • Deeply understands and is committed to professional boundaries and the roles and responsibilities of a UU Music Minster.
  • Can network effectively throughout the vibrant Northern Colorado music scene.

 

*Not an exhaustive list – that will be accomplished in a job description.  

 

Advertisements

We’re Staying!

By Sara Steen, Board Member and Space Committee Member

The Board of Trustees and the Space Committee are delighted to announce that, after 8 months of intense study, we have determined that staying on our current site will be the best way for us to continue to accommodate growth and live into our mission.  

At the Annual Meeting on June 3, the Space Committee presented an overview of the work it has done since October to reach this conclusion.  The full presentation, along with the Programming Report produced for us by inFusion Architects, can be found on the church website.  In this post, I’ll provide you with a summary of the year’s work leading up to our recommendation to the Board that we remain on site.

As many of you may recall, when the Board came to the Congregation in October, we had come to the conclusion that we would likely need to find a new site in order to accommodate the growth we have seen over the past several years.  We provided several opportunities for people to share their reactions to that news, many of which were deeply sad and concerned about what moving would mean for us as a community.  Based on your input, the Board asked the Space Committee to do a very careful assessment of our current site to see if there was any possibility that we could stay. The Space Committee hired a programming consultant, inFusion Architects, to help us with this task.

From January through April of this year, inFusion conducted a series of meetings with staff and congregation to identify what exactly our space requirements were and to do the detailed assessment of our current property.  Alongside the work inFusion was doing, the Space Committee did work to identify transportation options for remaining on site (parking is a major hurdle; there is simply no way to double the parking on our current site, so we needed to expand our thinking to come up with other alternatives); met with City Planners to identify city regulations that we needed to consider on our current site; and launched our first subcommittee, Communications and Engagement, to facilitate communication between the committee and the congregation.  

The final report produced by inFusion identified the following as our key priorities in the expansion process:

      • 400 seat sanctuary (more than double current worship space)
      • Double size of RE, social hall, kitchen, office suite
      • Minimize environmental impact, continually seek to embed green considerations
      • Maintain connection to outdoors
      • Create flexible spaces that can be easily adapted to different uses

In May, the committee worked diligently to develop decision criteria that would help us to determine whether remaining on our current site or moving to a new (larger) site would better enable us to live into our bold vision as a congregation.  Using the report produced by inFusion alongside the work the committee conducted over the year, we identified 13 criteria to consider in making a location recommendation to the board. These included things like cost, our ability to remain inside city limits, our ability to live up to our climate justice and social justice missions, future expansion ability, and transportation options.  We assigned a numerical weight to each criterion to acknowledge that some criteria should weigh more heavily in the decision, then we scored each location (current and new/larger) according to how it met the criterion. By multiplying the scores by the weights (full scoring can be found on the website), we concluded that there was a strong advantage to remaining on our current site.  We took this recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who approved it on May 24, 2018.  

Our immediate next step is to hire an architect to develop architectural plans for us.  This summer, we will be identifying architectural firms of interest, writing and distributing a request for proposals (RFP), developing and executing an interview process, deciding on decision criteria for choosing an architect, and finally conducting interviews and making a selection.  Once we have retained an architect, we will work with them to continue our conversation with the City of Fort Collins, and with Gary Schroeder of the Integrated Design Assistance Program which assists organizations invested in minimizing the environmental impact of building projects.

Our hope is that we will be able to come to the congregation in the Fall with an architectural plan approved by the Board for the congregation to vote on.  We will be hiring a financial feasibility consultant to help determine how much money we can expect to raise prior to beginning our capital campaign. Our fabulous communications and engagement subcommittee will be keeping you posted at every step along the way.  

This is a huge undertaking, and a massive milestone in the history of our church.  We want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. There are several ways to get involved.  First, we anticipate needing volunteers in a wide range of areas, including: finance/capital campaign, transition planning, exterior design (landscaping), interior design, and sustainability/green design.  If you have interests/talents/skills in any of these areas, please email me directly at professor.steen@gmail.com and I will add you to our ever-expanding volunteer list.  Second, we will be holding a series of forums in the coming months to provide opportunities to hear from you on a number of specific questions–stay tuned.  Third, you can always find updates on what we are doing on our social hall bulletin board or the update section of our church website; there are tools for you to provide input in both locations.  Finally, the space committee meets weekly on Tuesdays from 12:30-2:30 in the RE building (typically room 22); our meetings are open to anyone interested in knowing what we’re up to.  

We are so grateful to be part of such a dynamic congregation that is up for this challenge, and are looking forward with great excitement to continuing this journey with all of you. 

Comfort in Turbulent Times

by Karen Marcus, Foothills Blogger

Many who started attending Foothills after the 2016 election have found reasons to stay. 

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was shocking for many people — locally, nationally, and globally. Those who were confused, frightened, or angered by its outcome sought comfort, guidance, community, and hope. In and around Fort Collins, Foothills provided those things, and more.

Chris Guppy and her family started attending services at Foothills in December 2016. She says, “After the election we felt desolate, lonely, and helpless. We, as a family, needed community support.” They found it at Foothills, and continued coming to services because, says Guppy, “the sermons made me cry.” In addition, they enjoyed the presence of other young families, and Guppy’s son Jack “loved the ceiling fans in the sanctuary and kept asking to go back.”

Guppy and her husband, Brian, became members in early 2017, and joined a Gather Group. She teaches RE, and has volunteered for the welcome kiosk and the mobile food pantry. Now, Guppy wants to continue working with youth and to teach meditation techniques to both children and adults. She comments, “We continue to be amazed and thankful for such thoughtful and good-spirited church leadership.”

Erin Purdy is also very appreciative of Foothills. She notes, “We love the positive atmosphere, the rich and honest conversation, the social justice orientation, and the open-minded teaching, both for adults and in the RE classes. We’ve stayed because we feel at home and that we can explore our spirituality in an intellectually honest and deeply loving way.”

While the election got Purdy and her family into Foothills, she had been attracted to it for some time. She had a UU friend who often talked about her positive experiences, and she knew she wanted to check it out every time she drove by.

Now a member, Purdy and her family attend services regularly, and she teaches RE classes and brings meals to people who need them. “I think we’ll continue to come as a family,” she says. “I just love Foothills and am deeply grateful for everyone and everything there.”

The Sunday following the 2016 election marked the first time Sandy Brooks attended a service at Foothills. “I needed a family,” she remarks. “I had a couple of friends who were members, and I always noticed their enthusiasm when they talked about what their church was doing. I did some research online and decided it was the church I wanted to attend that day.” Brooks walked away from that service feeling like she had found exactly what she needed. Shortly thereafter, she became a member.

Brooks was active in the Sanctuary while Foothills provided housing to Ingrid and her children before their move to the Unitarian church in Boulder. She says, “Instead of thinking I was giving, I knew that what I received was much more.” She has also worked as a welcome kiosk attendant, a greeter, and an usher. As she reflects on her time at Foothills, Brooks wonders, as a Christian, if Foothills is the right church for her. But, she realizes that its main teaching is significant: “Courageous Love has new meaning for me.”

Mark Benjamin also started attending Foothills around the time of the 2016 election, though not necessarily because of it. He explains, “My 16-year old son moved in with me that November. Just before then, he came out to me as transgender, so I looked for churches that would support that.” He also wanted to find a community that “spoke to him.” Foothills offered the inclusiveness and acceptance he sought. Benjamin was involved in the Sanctuary movement; he worked with Gretchen to plan the space and ensure it was done legally.

Now living in Greeley, he’s not as involved as he would like to be, but “still loves going to Foothills.” As a result of his experience there, he feels happier and hopes he can return to being more involved.

Raised UU, Kathy Krisko moved to Fort Collins in the 80s and attended Foothills a few times then. She moved away for her career, but returned in 2014 and started coming to services irregularly in 2015. Then, when the 2016 election occurred, she says, “I felt the need to be in the presence of people who shared at least some of my opinions and concerns. I knew I could connect with other Unitarians, so I began attending services more regularly and became a member.”

Krisko says she’s continued because “it’s a time I can stop myself, sit down, and just listen.” While she doesn’t agree with everything she hears, she feels that Unitarianism is close to what she believes. In addition to attending services, she participates in Tai Chi Chih, a Gather Group, and concerts, and plans to engage in other activities as opportunities arise.

Foothills also holds special meaning for Page Frick, who loves being a part of the community. “After attending since November 2017, it feels like home to me,” she states. Prior to visiting, Frick had admired Foothills for its inclusiveness and commitment to making a difference in the local and global community. She says, “Like so many others, the 2016 election rocked my world. I needed a sane place, a respite, where people held similar views to mine.”

Frick used the opportunity to refocus on her ongoing goals of spiritual growth and giving back. She has attended Base Camp, joined a Gather Group, and volunteered as an usher. She plans to become a member in the near future, and to explore new spiritual practices. She comments, “Foothills comforts me and inspires me to grow as a person. I’m especially grateful for the efforts of Sean and Gretchen and members of the congregation to promote true connection and belonging among people.”

Thanks to everyone mentioned for your heartfelt remarks, and for the “piece of the truth” you bring to the Foothills community.