Foothills Rousin’ Roundup Auction

Rousin’ Roundupcowboy-boots-and-hat-athena-mckinzie
Foothills Fundraising Auction
Saturday, November 12, 5:30 to 9pm

Our annual auction is almost here! Buy your tickets on Sunday or anytime in the church office.

Did you know?

  • Your $15 ticket covers part of the event expenses, including heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
  • 60 of your fellow UUs have volunteered part of their evening to make this event a success. They buy tickets too.
  • You can wear western garb if you like.
  • You should bring your checkbook and save the church credit card fees.
  • Carlos, the tin rooster is back and looking for a new home for the coming year. Bid on Carlos. He will be a fun and gracious addition to your household.
  • Silent and live auction with a professional auctioneer. You can bid on a guided fishing trip, hike with a naturalist, themed dinners, a Denver condo for two nights, and so much more.
  • Buying tickets in advance allows us to enter your contact info into the computer early, which is necessary for the bidding process.
  • Auction Catalog 2016 Have a look. Dream big! Join the fun.

Don’t miss this great UU community party!


You’re Invited – Upcoming Events You Won’t Want to Miss By Erin Hottenstein

#1 Congregational Forum – Sunday, September 25, 12:15-1:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary

A congregational forum is a time to come find out about the work of the church. The Board of Trustees initiated the forums last year as a way to help keep members and friends updated on various projects and potential changes. It is a peek into the behind-the-scenes work that lay volunteers are doing to make Foothills Unitarian Church an even better place.

At this upcoming meeting, we will hear reports on these topics:

  • Board of Trustees, including our priorities for the year
  • Mission Task Force – a Congregational vote has been scheduled for Sunday, 10/16 at 10:15 a.m. (see more below)
  • Governance Task Force, including a plan for discussing possible changes
  • Finance, including a helpful chart on our cash flow
  • Stewardship, including a multi-year summary on pledging
  • Committee on Shared Ministry – what it is and what it is doing
  • Assistant Minister Transition Team

Anyone who is interested in learning about these topics is welcome to join us in the Sanctuary after the second service. Light snacks, such as cheese sticks and granola bars will be available in the Social Hall. Childcare will be provided in the Religious Exploration building, please rsvp to   We look forward to seeing you there.

#2 Installation of Rev. Gretchen Haley as Senior Minister – Sunday, October 2, 4 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 1005 Stover St., Fort Collins

We’re so excited about this event – take a look here for details.

#3 Congregational Meeting – Sunday, October 16, 10:15 a.m., in the Sanctuary

As mentioned above, we are holding a formal Congregational Meeting to vote on a new mission for the church. The only item on the agenda will be the mission.

The Mission Task Force, under the guidance of the Board of Trustees, has worked for almost a year gathering input from a broad cross-section of congregants, writing, rewriting, gathering more input and revising. The Task Force enthusiastically made this final recommendation for a mission:

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.

Anyone who has become a member by signing the membership book by September 18, 2016 is eligible to vote. We encourage all members to attend this special meeting.

Rectifying the Names

Version 4When I first introduced myself to Foothills back in August, I asked for some grace as I attempted to learn the names of the over 800 people involved in the life of the congregation; and grace has been afforded for which I am eternally grateful. Names are important. There is a reason we all have one, and that ancient christians explicitly included the naming of a child as part of the baptismal rite.

In Confucianism there is a story in which Confucius, approached by the leaders of a particular province asked him “If you were to be the governor of the land, what would your first order of business be?”  Confucius answer shocked them all.

“I would rectify the names.”

We cannot, Confucius argued, be successful with anything, if our language is not in concordance with the truth of things. If we call someone a teacher, and yet they do not teach, or if we call a friend a friend but they are not, our language gets away from us. It leads us astray from the truth and our actions fall away.

What I love about Confucius’ answer is that he call us not just to learn the true names but to live up to the names we have been given. In the past month I have been learning what it will mean to be your minister. In a song circle around the campfire at Buckhorn, during staff and worship meetings, and in the countless conversations where I have learned more than just your name but a small slice about your life. There is no way for me to live, grow and deepen as a minister to and with this congregation without this ongoing, and deepening, dialogue. Everyday I am falling more in love with what I find here at Foothills: a music loving, fiercely loyal, motivated, compassionate and eager church. A church, who in Confucius’ vernacular, is striving to live up the meaning of that name: to unleash courageous love.

And this process never ends. We are constantly learning and living into our names (sometimes they even change!), and so I want to extend a special invitation to attend one of the small group gatherings that the transitions team has planned, so we can further getting to know each other.  Information can be found below for the different gatherings.

Region:            Southeast Fort Collins

Host:               Sue Ferguson

Date:               Friday, September 23           Time: 1-3 PM

Address:          1313 Tuckaway Ct, 80525

Region:           Southwest Fort Collins

Host:               Karen Johnese

Date:               Wednesday, September 28  Time: 7-9 PM

Address:          2900 Skimmerhorn St, 80526

Region:            City Park Neighborhood, Fort Collins

Hosts:              Ed and Linda Beers

Date:               Friday, October 7      Time: 7-9 PM

Address:          408 S. Jackson, 80521

Please send an RSVP email to ( and specify which location and how many in your party.

A Rich and Productive Summer By Erin Hottenstein, President of the Board of Trustees

Your new group of lay leaders is off to a fantastic start! We’ve been busy over the summer and are ready to jump into the school/regular church year.

The July Leadership Retreat was held at the Primrose Studio at the Reservoir Ridge Natural Area just outside Fort Collins. (L to R) April Undy, Sara Edwards, Sally Harris, Karen Johnese, Brian Woodruff, Margie Wagner, Michelle Venus, Rev. Gretchen Haley, Rev. James Kubal-Komoto, Erin Hottenstein, Anne Hall, Sue Sullivan. Not pictured: Scott Denning, Ed Beers.

The July Leadership Retreat was held at the Primrose Studio at the Reservoir Ridge Natural Area just outside Fort Collins. (L to R) April Undy, Sara Edwards, Sally Harris, Karen Johnese, Brian Woodruff, Margie Wagner, Michelle Venus, Rev. Gretchen Haley, Rev. James Kubal-Komoto, Erin Hottenstein, Anne Hall, Sue Sullivan. Not pictured: Scott Denning, Ed Beers, Jennifer Hawk Powell, Gale Whitman and Glenn Pearson.

In case you missed it, the Mission Task Force has made a final recommendation about our mission. We hope you like it! Check it out here. We’d love to hear from you at the Board of Trustees’ booth at the Start-up Festival or at Buckhorn Retreat.

In July, the Board of Trustees, Committee on Shared Ministry and Rev. Gretchen Haley had a weekend retreat. Our purpose was to create good working relationships for the year and to support the successful launch of Gretchen’s ministry. The Rev. James Kubal-Komoto, the new Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region, flew in to facilitate and was very engaging.

We chose individual goals for personal spiritual growth for the year. We got to know each other through icebreakers that had us answering questions about how long we had been Unitarian Universalists and how long we had been in leadership at the church. One of the most enlightening exercises was like an anthropological expedition where we unearthed unspoken rules and truths, as well as recognizing the stories and traditions that live in our church community. We reflected on our history through the lens of each past minister. We discussed which group was responsible or accountable for different tasks. Finally, we brainstormed dozens of wishes we have for Foothills. My gratitude goes out to each person who made the retreat so rich and productive!

The Board of Trustees has held two regular monthly meetings since that retreat. Our work on the mission, we believe, is coming to a fruitful conclusion. We are in the thick of our task of creating a revised governance structure that is appropriate to our large-church size. This will continue to be one of our top priorities for 2016-17 and we are actively partnering with the Governance Task Force to see it through. Another priority we are continuing from last year is to improve communication with the congregation in both aspects of sending and receiving. New this year will be a priority on leadership development and a priority on vision setting. More on all these priorities later!

Lastly, about 15 lay leaders attended an all-day Stewardship Summit last Saturday. We were looking at stewardship in the wide sense of how all the teams involved in money – Finance, Endowment, Stewardship and the Board of Trustees – have a role to play in the caretaking of the church now and in the future. Our purpose was to look at our financial history as well as our current situation and gain a greater understanding of where we might go from here. Many thanks to Kay Williams, Walt Jones and the Stewardship Team for organizing the day, and to them and Erik Martinson for the outstanding reports. Thanks also to Rev. Haley for facilitating and to each lay leader for spending the day with us.  Our direction for the year is taking shape nicely due to all the effort our volunteer and staff leaders put in this summer!

The Rummage Sale Report

Thank You, script lettering

The Rummage Sale has come and gone leaving another successful sale in it’s wake.  Thank you to Pam Stevens and the volunteers who worked many, many hours to make this huge event happen.  If you donated treasures or bought some, we thank you too.

The 2016 Foothills Rummage Sale raised $16,840.00.  The pledge drive is our largest income source followed by the Rummage Sale and the Auction (coming up in November).

Sincere thanks to all for your continued support of
Foothills Unitarian Church.

Foothills Finance 2015/2016 By Eric Martinson, Finance Chair

The 2015-16 fiscal year has now ended and the finance committee is working on closing the books. Some reconciliations and adjustments remain to be completed, but preliminary reports indicate that we will likely end the year in a much better position than had been anticipated at the end of the 3rd Quarter, with a budget surplus in the range of $20,000 rather than a similarly sized deficit.

The turn-around is largely due to extraordinary pledge collections in May and June that were 28% ($26,500) greater than the same period the previous year. Year-end donations also came in substantially higher than expected ($9,000 over budget). It thus appears that total income received will be within 0.5% of our $688,000 operating budget.

However, it is apparent that expenses will be substantially under-budget even though several are not yet booked. Some planned consulting services were deferred to offset revenue withdrawals early in the year. Our senior minister search was less expensive than it might have been and was budgeted to be. Staff were extraordinarily frugal with their travel and professional expenses as concern grew over the slow rate of pledge collections through most of the year. Facility expenses (utilities, property insurance, grounds keeping) also ended the year under budget. Consequently, we expect to close the year with total expenses under-budget by approximately 4% ($25,000).

The budget surplus will be added to the Reserve and bring its total to over $50,000, about 7% of the operating budget for next year. While much healthier than it’s been for many years, it will still be about $20,000 short of our policy objective of 10%. But an additional $10,000 is budgeted to be contributed to the reserve over the course of the coming year, so we should be very close by next July.

Despite our total income nearly meeting expectation, our collection rate on the 2015-16 pledge remains below average at 94% and $17,000 short of the 97% collection rate assumed in our budget. The shortfall was compensated for by early payments on next year’s pledge that were 50% ($13,000) higher than the previous year. By tradition, we will continue to count late payments received through the end of August against the 2015-16 pledge, which should boost our collection rate by another 1% or 2%. Please settle up now if you have any remaining balance due, as It will be important for our collection rate to approach our budgetary assumption of 97% in order to justify it as reasonable and avoid any unnecessary austerity in the budget we craft next Spring.

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
  • 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.