We Are A Sanctuary Congregation

Dear Foothills friends and members,

The sanctuary was filled with an incredible energy on Sunday as 165 members and another 30 or so friends came together to discuss and ultimately vote on the question of becoming a sanctuary congregation.  A few wondered if this was the best way to improve our broken immigration system, and others were concerned about the risks involved.

Ultimately, however, these concerns did not overcome the 92% who voted to affirm that becoming a sanctuary congregation was a core part of our religious practice, deeply connected to our affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person and our understanding that we are all in this life, together.  With this overwhelming majority, we are now officially a sanctuary congregation. 

Which of course means, the real work begins! Today many of us were working on logistics, which basically fall into the following areas:

a) Our Guest – The Guest Relations Team (previously the Applicant Team) has been solidified to include Jessica Davis, Jeff Dean and Johanna Ulloa, and myself.  We have finalized the applicant process and are moving through the steps.  My sense is that we should know by the end of this week or early next week who will be the first guest to take sanctuary with us, and when.

b) Funding – We have established a fund to support building enhancements, legal counsel, furniture, living items for our guest, staff support dedicated to supporting the sanctuary initiative, and other incidental costs required to ensure we and our guest are able to make this work.  Donate to this fund here (and feel free to pass this on): foothillsuu.org/sanctuary-fund

c) Communications – There’s going to be a lot happening, and quickly, especially in the next few weeks.  We are creating systems to ensure that those of you who want all the information can get it – and those who want just the highlights can get that too – and everything in between.  Look for more information on this in the next few days.  Meanwhile, we’ve already been connected with the local press – check out the article in the Coloradoan.  An article with the North Forty News will be coming, and there will be more extensive press release once we have someone in sanctuary.

d) Volunteer coordination – Sue Ferguson is working with Rev. Sean to establish an easy and integrated way to schedule our volunteers into the needs.  We’ll soon have more information on this.  Meanwhile, you can express your desire to be a part of the core volunteer list by joining this group here.

e) Building, Safety and other details – We already have a new and improved plan for where our guest will be staying during the time before we can remodel the basement. We also moved forward with the insurance policy application.  And we formulated the organizational structure for this work moving forward – more information on this in the coming days.

On Sunday I spoke about leaning into uncertainty as our friend – this process definitely gives us some good practice in this – as there’s a lot we’re trying to work out, and quickly.  So it’s a good thing we all have a good sense of humor, and that we know we are all just doing the best we can to try to do that next right thing.

Thank you all for your partnership,

Rev. Gretchen

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Becoming a Sanctuary Congregation – Vote on August 27th

Dear Foothills friends and members,

While the blatant hatred and racism displayed in Charlottesville on Saturday left me feeling helpless and despairing, our time together yesterday morning engaging the questions of becoming a sanctuary congregation brought me to gratitude, and resolve.  It is a privilege to serve a community that is engaging in such important and compassionate work.  

If you missed the service yesterday, you can catch the sermon from the Rev. Mike Morran on this video.  It was a powerful exploration and charge for us to get real and serious about this very real opportunity before us.  As I shared on Sunday, our partners at the American Friends Service Committee have already approached us about a potential guest for our congregation, a woman seeking sanctuary with us.

She has six children, age 3 to 17, all US citizens, and she also cares for her niece. She has been in the US for over 20 years after immigrating from Guatemala, and other than minor traffic violation in 2005 that brought her into deportation hearings, she has never committed a crime.  Without sanctuary from a faith community, her deportation will occur within the next month.

This process reminds me so much of my process of adopting my children – who were adopted through foster care.  As with then, there’s the timeline you have in mind, and then there’s the reality of receiving a call.  We did not anticipate having this possibility looming as we were reaching these two weeks of discernment, but also, this is how it sometimes works when you begin to be in relationship with those doing the on-the-ground-work of immigration justice.  

Our work now is to decide if a) we feel it is our congregation’s mission to be a sanctuary congregation and accept someone into sanctuary; and if yes b) to get the space, people, systems and finances ready to go to be able to do this.  

A lot of the initial groundwork was laid in yesterday’s service and workshop after the service.  If you missed the workshop, please plan to attend the workshop on August 23rd at 6:00.  You can sign up here.  If you can’t make that but want more information, or if you want to start reading up on our process and plans, check out this Q&A, this summary of our application process, and this resource describing our partners in this work.  

Most of all, we hope you will join us on the 27th for the vote at 11:30.  Please see this letter from the Board describing the details of our vote, the percentage required for a “yes,” and other information on the meeting.

Thank you for taking up this important conversation, and for continuing to travel this path of justice and compassion together.

 

In partnership,

Rev. Gretchen

Congregational Meeting on Becoming a Sanctuary Church

August 14, 2017

Dear Members and Friends,

There will be an important Congregational Meeting on Sunday August 27 at 11:30 AM to consider a resolution to designate Foothills Unitarian Church as a Sanctuary Congregation. The meeting will include a lot of very valuable information about what this means, how it works, and the conditions and limitations we’ve proposed.

According to our Bylaws, those who have been members for 30 days or more can vote, meaning you would need to have “signed the book” by July 29, 2017. A three-fourths majority of those present is required for us to proceed.

The text of the resolution on which we’ll vote is as follows:

With our policies and procedures in place, as well as the established Guidelines and Limitations set by the Board of Trustees, the Foothills Unitarian Church affirms the following statement:

As people of faith and conscience, we pledge to resist any policies that target and/or deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities. We will open up our congregation and community as a sanctuary space and accompany our immigrant neighbors in their journey for justice and safety.  We will work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people.  We hereby designate ourselves as a Sanctuary Congregation, aligning ourselves with the traditions and practices of the New Sanctuary Movement and affirming our willingness to receive a guest seeking sanctuary into our congregation and to provide hospitality support for them during their stay.

Before the vote, there will be a series of presentations and opportunities for discussion and questions, as well as some very informative handouts.

Please come to this important meeting and urge your friends and family to attend as well.

 

Sincerely,

Your Board of Trustees

 

New Database Part Two: Groups

Last week I wrote about the ways our new database Planning Center Online (PCO) will impact the ways we do Giving at Foothills. This week my focus is on Groups!

TL/DR: New online group directory for all church groups. Information on group activities now can be found on their individual group pages.

Groups

At last count, Foothills has over 60 official groups, ministries, and teams. Before now, keeping track of them all, let alone making it easy to learn about and connect with them, was a challenge. One of the key features of our new database is an online infrastructure to support our church’s groups. Here is what I am most excited about:

  • Our new online group directory showcases all the groups in one place. It also allows you all to request to be added to groups that are open to new members.
  • Group pages contain essential information including: descriptions, meeting times and dates, and contact information.
  • Group leaders can now easily see who is in their group, communicate with them all by email, and create events for all group members to see.
  • Private Groups allow only group members to see the information about group activities and members.
  • Public groups allow the whole church to get excited and involved in your events.

Many of you are involved in many different groups – by logging into your account via the group directory, you can see and access all the groups you are part of, include some private groups that only members of those groups can access.

As the year rolls on we will no doubt be learning more about our new system and be sharing with you more information. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. For questions regarding Giving please contact Carolyn Myers, our church administrator (carolyn@foothillsuu.org); questions about Groups can be directed to me, Sean Neil-Barron (sean@foothillsuu.org)

Accessing Your Planning Center Account

We are now rolling out our new church database, or more truly our new Church Management System (ChMS), called Planning Center

To access a few of the features of our new system (accessing your giving statement, accessing certain church group)  you have to log in. But fear not, you won’t ever need to remember a password.

Planning Center uses a passwordless login. When logging in, the system will instantly send you an email that contains a link. Open your email, click the link and you will be instantly logged in. It will then remember you for 30 days, so if you use the same computer, so no need to log in again. Snazzy, eh?

Introducing Our New Church Database! Wait…….Don’t Stop Reading!

The new financial year at Foothills is bringing some big changes! We have a new congregational database, which may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Before I dive deeper I want to thank Michael Latta, AJ Johnson, and Margaret Cottam, who formed the ad hoc committee that worked with me to evaluate the various options –  their work was foundational to getting us to this moment. Thanks!

First, why the change? A few reasons:

  • First, it’s the 21st century and we needed a 21st-century database.
  • Second, we wanted a system that would do more than store information, but become a tool to unleash the ministry of our lay leaders.
  • Third, we wanted to give you all access to your own information without having to call the office.
  • Fourth, we wanted to remove the information barriers between you and our church’s groups and gatherings.

For all of these reasons, we decided to go with Planning Center Online, or PCO for short. This may be the first time you have really thought about the church having a database so you might be wondering: What does this mean for me?

There are two major areas that you will start to notice a difference: Giving and Groups. This post will cover the former, and our next post will cover the latter.

Too Long/Didn’t Read (or TL/DR)

In the online world, TL/DR is used to give you the quick summary of a document, to help us all gain the essentials without becoming overwhelmed by the details.

TL/DR: Online donation is now easier. Access your donation history online at any time. Giving Statements will be created by individual rather than by household.

Giving

Planning Center makes it super easy to donate and manage your financial giving to the congregation, online. It’s easy to set up or modify recurring pledge payments (directly from your bank account) from a secure online portal. This reduces the amount of your financial information the church has on file, making it more secure.

Another change you will love around tax season is that you will be able to access your donation history and giving statements online at all times!

Moving to a new system always entails some changes to the way we operate. The biggest change is we will no longer generate annual and quarterly giving statements by household. Following non-profit best practices, and the way the IRS records donations, we will send you individual donation statements.

If you pledge and give as a household, your donations will not be combined into one statement but rather will be separated based on who made the donation. If you are donating by check from a joint bank account, indicate who the donation should be credited to for tax purposes in the memo line.

We acknowledge that your financial commitment is from your entire household. 

Where can you access your account you may ask? Head over to foothillsuu.org/give and follow the links! Wondered how logging in will work? Read the post on that!

As the year rolls on we will no doubt be learning more about our new system and be sharing with you more information. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. For questions regarding Giving, please contact Carolyn Myers, our church administrator (carolyn@foothillsuu.org); questions about Group can be directed to me, Sean Neil-Barron (sean@foothillsuu.org)

Donation Days Are Here!

Donation Days are here! The Foothills Rummage Sale is less than two 2 weeks away and donations can be dropped at the church beginning tomorrow July 26th.
Donations accepted:
  • WednesdayThursdayFriday and Monday from 9 a.m.- 8 p.m.
  • Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Sunday 12:30 p.m. -5 p.m.

Please do not drop off donations after hours or during Sunday services. (After the 11 a.m. service a Team member will be available at the RE Building if you want to bring items to church with you on 7/30.)

This year we are accepting:

Art
Baby Items
Baskets
Bikes & Sports   (NO skis)
Books
Boutique
Children’s
Clothes
Children’s Toys
Entertainment-
Decor & Holiday

Furniture
Garden & Pets
Health & Beauty
Jewelry
Kitchen/Housewares   appliances/vacuums,
Linnens & Luggage
Office & Lamps
Rugs
Sewing Crafts
Storage & Organization
Tools & Construction

We aren’t accepting adult clothes (but shoes and accessories are okay) or electronics (like DVD players, computer stuff) this year.

 

Foothills Members & Friends (of the church) sale is Wednesday, Aug. 2:
4:30 p.m. Sale volunteers with 15 or more hours logged shop
5 p.m. Wine and Cheese Reception begins. Sale volunteers (6 or more hours worked) or church members/friends who pay $10 shop
6 p.m. – 8 p.m. FREE for all Foothills members and friends
The public sale is Thursday, Aug. 3 – Saturday, Aug. 5 from 8 – 6 daily. Saturday is 50 percent off everything that is left.
This sale is hugely popular in our community, helping those with lower incomes and students furnish homes and clothe their families. We are coordinating with the nonprofit Homeless Gear in 2017, and half of all net proceeds will go to support their essential programs – homelessgear.org. The other half will support our church’s work.
Many volunteers have stepped up, but there are still several open slots to fill. Childcare is available for volunteers on Saturday, July 29 and Friday, Aug. 4. Please contact jestlick@gmail.com if you need babysitting. Please go to the sign-up sheets at foothillsuu.org/rummagesale and see where you can lend a hand. We’ve shortened the sale and want to see this tradition survive.