Our Place on the Altar

Our Place on the Altar

by Eleanor VanDeusen

I am re-reading the Harry Potter book series once again this fall….it’s the fourth time for me, as I must confess that I am an avid Harry Potter fan and I keep discovering deeper layers of meaning each time I re-read the books.

Yesterday I was struck by the scene where Harry visits Dumbledore’s office for the first time and sees the portraits of the all of the past Headmasters of Hogwarts hung on the walls. They move inside their frames and Dumbledore can commune with all of these wise people from the past, draw on their wisdom and feel their support and companionship. I often long for that kind of connection with my loved ones who have died and with my heroes from the past that have left a legacy of good works as an example for me.

our place on the altar

On Sunday, October 28th, our church community will celebrate the lives of our departed loved ones and contemplate our own legacy in our service to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Some of the questions we will consider together are: who do you remember? And what gift did their life give you? What will our place on the altar be? What do we hope that people will remember about our lives?

We invite you and your family to bring items representing people and animals who you have loved that have died. We will share our memories of our loved ones by placing them on a shared altar of remembrance.

Ideas for things to bring:

  • A small picture, framed or unframed.
  • A favorite sweet, game or toy that would have brought a smile to your loved one’s face.
  • A favorite poem, a joke or the lyrics to a song they loved.
  • An object that reminds you of them, things they loved or representations of their job or hobbies.
  • Flowers or other objects from nature

We will join together in honoring our departed  loved ones as we create our Day of the Dead altar. In this way, they will live on in our hearts as the joy of their memory reminds us that love never dies.  



Red/Blue Retreat – How to Talk Across the Political Divide

by Jane Everham

It was quite late one, week night when I couldn’t sleep and dark thoughts crept in. I texted Gretchen to ask, “Are you sure everyone is inherently entitled to worth and dignity?  Because I think a certain politician today forfeited his right to both.”  Of course, she responded immediately. Does that woman ever sleep?

And she said, Yes, Jane, I hear you, but our faith asks a lot of us and searching for the path to hold all individuals as entitled to dignity and worth is non-negotiable. Well, those weren’t her exact words, she was much more eloquent, but you get the gist. Our faith is not easy.

I completely and heartfeltly embrace the sentiment of our first Principle – until it comes time to put it into practice. How to love someone who is racist? Someone who speaks hate? Someone who applauds misogyny and discrimination? Unleashing courageous love is the challenge of my concern. On my UU spiritual path, I may be working on this practice for a long time.

When Sean introduced the idea of a Red Blue Retreat I glared at him. I had just vowed to myself to start saying “no” to requests and offers as I was already over committed. BUT I wanted to do this so badly! I have since the early 2000s. I wanted to say yes. I had to say yes. I did say yes.

And it is meaningful and worthy time spent inviting UUs to participate. Are you surprised that the Red group began filling faster than the Blue group? I was. But the good news is – the Retreat is not yet filled. There is room for a couple of Reds, a couple of Blues and numerous Observers. The registration form is on our FB page, in the Communicator, and on the website.

Does anyone NOT think our Democracy is in trouble? Well, here is a step you can take to begin to heal our nation. It is no panacea, just a step. But remember what one of my heroes, Margaret Mead said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Take this first small step.

How To Talk Across the Political Divide

September SHARE the PLATE – Turning Point

September SHARE the PLATE – Turning Point

The September Share the Plate at Foothills Unitarian Church collected $2,164.59 for Turning Point, a mental health and substance abuse treatment center for children and families.

“At Turning Point, we turn lives around for youth who are struggling with behavior, mental health, or substance abuse issues. We offer the broadest range of programs from outpatient services to intensive residential treatment through our Northern Colorado centers, offering help and hope for youth and their families.

Turning Point’s therapeutic services range from individual and family therapy sessions to round-the-clock care in one of our residential treatment facilities. We have developed and fine-tuned our programs over the course of more than 40 years to better suit at-risk and troubled youth in our community”

Turning Point

Turning Point is grateful to receive our financial support, and there is more need. There are gaps in the services people need for inpatient behavioral health treatment or treatment for alcohol/drug abuse.

One way to change this is to support the November Ballot Issue 1A. This measure will build, fund and support a mental health/substance abuse/detox facility to address this significant need. A small sales tax (25 cents for every $100 you spend) will pay for this needed health care facility. Your vote is needed to make this a reality.

We supported Turning Point with our dollars, and we can continue out support with our vote. Ballots will be mailed on October 15th. Watch you mail and vote for Ballot Issue 1A for increased mental health services in Larimer County.

Ready for action now? Turning Point also accepts volunteer support. You can:

  • Help at an event
  • Organize a group to help with Turning Point building and grounds maintenance
  • Provide administrative assistance in our office
  • Work with youth in our classrooms or in daily living experiences

“Turning Point has volunteers who come to help for a day and volunteers who work regularly for years. Any time you can spend will make a difference.”

The Story of Our Branding or Hey, Did You See the New Logo!?!

By Erin Price

In July, 2017, Rev. Sean asked if I would lead a committee to revamp our church website. I agreed almost immediately. I mean, have you used the church website lately? There are some great pictures of our smiling faces, but it’s clunky, and hard to use.

But when I began to think about a better website for Foothills, big questions arose. How do we best communicate our mission and all the work we do in the community? Who exactly are we trying to reach, people who don’t know us, or members and friends who might need specific ‘insider’ information? And then the biggest question, how does our website fit with all our other materials? We have so many people — church staff and volunteers — creating posters, signs, pamphlets, and flyers, that we don’t have a cohesive set of materials. So what should our website look like?

Then I remembered something Erin Hottenstein and I had talked about a decade ago, as we were developing the Stewardship committee: Branding.

What the heck is branding, you might ask?

Officially, effective branding allows an organization to capture its personality in its visual and written materials.

Our brand isn’t just a logo, but includes all the materials we use to communicate. The goal of branding is to stimulate recognition and evoke an emotional response by embodying the characteristics of an organization in its written materials. It’s a tall order. Think of the Nike logo and their marketing around athleticism. Or Harley Davidson and its ethos of masculinity and strength.

So, I went back to Sean and suggested we do a bigger revamp of all our church materials, including the website, to enable us to communicate to all of our various constituencies, members, friends, newcomers, and our community at large, in a more cohesive and effective manner.

Sean agreed that there was value in thinking of our website as part of a bigger whole, and we put together a committee. Gale Whitman joined right away. Then we recruited Ann Molison and Brendan Mahoney.

Together, our committee did a lot of research into the branding process and read some good books on what steps to take. (In case you’re interested in learning more, the best of the bunch were: Branding for Nonprofits: Developing Identity with Integrity, by DK Holland, and Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller.

We began by building on the excellent Mission Statement work done in the past few years, which answers the questions: “Who are we and whom do we serve?”

Next, we defined the elements that communicate to our audiences. We gathered a big stack of materials, each reflecting a different facet of our programs and services. Things like the website, pamphlets publicizing our programs, the banners along Drake which express support for marginalized groups, event posters, our weekly email updates, ministerial communications, and the Order of Service we us on Sundays.

And then we began the real work of creating a plan for managing those communications. We spent about a year — yes, a year — working through what we wanted our brand to reflect. We met with many congregants and talked with church leaders to create set of documents, which boiled down who we, as a congregation, are.

At this point, we debated whether the real design work was something that we could do in-house, or whether we’d need to call in the pros. Branding is a specialized field, which requires education, training, and artistry, to do well. After much deliberation, and more research, we determined that we did not have the capacity to design a new logo or create a branding guide ourselves.

This is not to discount our previous logo, developed by church member Steve Sedam. It’s beautiful, and has served us well for many years. The new logo draws inspiration from Steve’s design. As much as we love that logo, we recognized that if we were going to go to the effort to create a new package of materials, we should have the designers spruce up our logo, too.

When we were ready for the experts to step in, we interviewed a number of local design firms to find the right match, finally selecting One Tribe Creative. Over the last few months, we have worked with One Tribe as they’ve developed the new logo. We went through four rounds of major revision, followed by countless back-and-forths to get it just right. (You might be surprised how many conversations you can have about different fonts, just how big that font should be, the value of serif versus san serif, and whether or not everything is centered correctly!)

FoothillsHorizontal Slogan- LOW RES

We love the fact that the new logo takes the historical chalice image and injects it with vibrant colors, and a dynamic, energetic graphic, that captures the spirit of Foothills. The tagline, ‘Love Unites Us All’ distills our mission, to unleash courageous love, so that we can communicate it more broadly wherever our logo appears.

One Tribe also created a guide for how to use the logo so that our materials will have a consistent look and feel. This should make the lives of our staff and volunteers, who are often tasked with developing pamphlets, posters, and signs for our many events, much easier. Finally, One Tribe has worked hard to develop a snazzy, super-functional new website, too, which will roll out soon.

We are very proud of the work we’ve done. The process took a lot longer than we originally thought it would, but we’re pleased with the result.

Reflections on the 6th UU Source

from Jane Everham

“Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the scared circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.”

In the Black Forest of Pikes Peak region of Colorado, one finds oddly formed Ponderosa Pines that look to have suffered harsh winters, intense winds or even viruses. Turns out they are Ute Prayer Trees. Ute Prayer Trees (UPT) are a unique variety of culturally modified trees that were skillfully cultivated by the Ute Indians throughout much of Colorado.  They began modifying trees for navigational, medicinal, nutritional, educational, burial or spiritual purposes.  UPT can still be found today and are believed to have been cultivated between 150 – 450 years ago. The Ute, like many other Native Americans, believe all living things have a spirit and the majority of the UPTs discovered in El Paso, Teller and Custer Counties appear to point towards Pikes Peak and other sacred places of the Ute people.

“I think Ute Indian Prayer Trees are living Native American artifacts that offer us an intriguing link back in time to a deeply spiritual people with rich culture and long history in the Pikes Peak Region,” explains Anderson. *

Earth-centered traditions have been around as long as humans, thousands of years. And many different living traditions are offered for UUs to practice and incorporate into our faith, be it Pagan, Christian, Native American or more.

At the Western Unitarian Universalist Life Festival, the UU family camp at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, we have a tradition of celebrating the Solstice at Echo Amphitheater. Our Pagan UUs craft a ceremony which includes interfaith readings, we honor the Four Directions and the Earth Elements, a teacher from Albuquerque sings a heart-stopping Ave Maria into the echo canyon wall, and then everyone – all ages – dances, drums, waves ribbons, wands and engages in all kinds of spiritual joyousness. It is a complete religious and spiritual stew – a glorious stew honoring the earth.

Here in Northern Colorado, we have a vibrant land to protect. “We can’t make new rivers” said a recent Facebook post from the Save Our Poudre folks. Keeping earth-centered traditions alive in all forms is work we can engage in, especially on days when the news has us holding our heads crying, “What can we do?”  In a sermon back in June, Gretchen counseled us to stay alert to and embrace joy where we find it. If tending the earth physically, monetarily, or politically brings you joy then dig in and get your hands dirty, or pull out your wallet, or put pen to paper with a rousing Letter to the Editor. Our natural environment needs our ongoing service and our Sixth Source of Earth-centered tradition calls us to keep up the effort.

This is the last Blog in my series on our Six UU Sources – there are surely other perspectives on these Sources, and you are invited to join the Foothills Bloggers and share yours. All Six UU Sources acknowledge the gifts we have received from other faiths, voices, and traditions. It is up to us to honor them and make them vibrant in gratitude. We hear every week that our worship is on Sunday, but our service is every day, and we continue to respond.

Blessed be.

*Culturally Modified Ute Prayer Trees by John W, Anderson – A side note, the La Foret Retreat Center often visited by UUs is in this Black Forest with its Ute Prayer Trees. Some of you may remember seeing these peculiar trees.

The Annual Foothills Auction is coming! 

It’s a Mask-UU-rade! It promises to be magical and mesmerizing.  It’s Saturday, November 10th, and will be here before we know it.  We’re trying something new this year – because social events are so popular and fun, and because our space is currently at such a premium, our goal is to offer many more experiences and services than things.

Ask anyone who has attended auction events, and we bet they’ll tell you they had a great time.  Listen to this!  “My wife and I were new in Fort Collins and at Foothills, so we thought: Let’s buy ourselves a social life at the church auction! That’s how we ended up careening from a duck-observation walk, to a snowshoeing adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park, to a five-course Cornish game-hen dinner, to a proper English tea party, to a . . .  and the best thing of all:  We made a whole bunch of wonderful new friends. It’s the best investment we ever made! We’ll be bidding up a storm at this year’s auction as well!”

Donation forms are available on Sunday mornings at the Auction Table in the Social Hall.  We can help with questions and donation ideas – and if you want to share donating an event or activity with someone else (twice the fun!), talk to Peg or Ticie, our Event Brokers Extraordinaire!  We’ll also need lots of volunteers to pull this thing off – check with us at the table.  Auction tickets go on sale Sunday or buy online.  $20, which includes dinner and $10 in “Auction Bucks” to help you start bidding. Come join in the fun! Your Fabulous Foothills Auction Team: Peg MacMorris, Faye McDonald, Julie Pass, Ticie Rhodes, Mary Rundquist, and Kay Williams.

snowshoe hike

Cheryl’s Snowshoe Hike

P.S. – And join us for our Mask-Making Event on Saturday, November 3rd,
from 10:00-12:00, so you can decorate your mask!

Be Careful What You Ask For…

by Jane Everham

It was 1994 when, as President of the Board of Trustees, the congregation began the visioning process that resulted in our (then) expanded sanctuary and RE building. We had grown by leaps and bounds, and we had run out of room. Sound familiar?

I attended visioning sessions similar to what the Board is now offering in the coming days. In 1994, I knew clearly the vision I wanted. I wanted Foothills Unitarian Church to be a busy, bustling hub of activity. When I drove by the church I wanted to see cars in the parking lot and lights on in both buildings. I wanted too many choices to be able to participate in it all.

Last night I arrived at church at 6:10 pm and the upper parking lot was almost full. Lights were on in both buildings. The RE Building was “a bustle” and I had had to choose one activity from many. The room I had reserved for Wellspring Sources was occupied. Grrr, I started to say out loud and then stopped – this was my vision come to fruition!

So be careful what you ask for became my mantra as I drove to this 2018 Visioning Session today. Actually, the current headlines have left me feeling empty – lacking creativity or vision. What would I have to add to the discussion? Besides, I’m satisfied – my vision of 24 years ago is here.

Except for we’ve run out of room again. And I once again experienced that a room full of UUs is the perfect place to get “filled up.” I surprised myself with how quickly I discovered that I still had more dreams for my church. The excellent structure and facilitation of this Visioning Session also contributed to a very satisfying and hopeful experience of looking into the future for our congregation.

If you haven’t yet signed up for a visioning session, run don’t walk, to your phone or computer and sign-up now. Your future at Foothills depends on you.