From #MeToo to Easter – Making Space for a New Story

To call last Sunday’s #MeToo service “powerful” feels too small, too overused a word.  It was holy, it was terrifying, it was the beginning of something that we don’t yet totally understand.  (If you were not able to join us in person, check out the podcast here, or watch the full service here, and check out the text of the sermon here.)

Holding space with you as we traveled the path of our stories of pain, and shame, violence, and also resilience and resistance broke my heart, and also bolstered my spirit.  It was brave space that we made together, and also, it was just the beginning.

As I prepared for the service, I was struck repeatedly at the ways that the #MeToo movement connects so readily to the #NeverAgain marches that happened across the country on Saturday, and also the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the work for Immigration Justice and also environmental justice, and….because all of these movements are trying to address the dominant paradigm that says some lives matter more than others, that some voices and stories matter more – that we are not ultimately all in this life together.

It can be easy, when we start delving deeply into this work in the ways that we did on Sunday, to get caught up in the pain, or the shame, or to feel that these old stories we are fighting to change are in fact intractable, or to be overwhelmed at just how deep the dysfunction goes, including in ourselves.

Which is why, I’m so glad that the Sunday immediately following #MeToo is our Easter Sunday.  Because Easter reminds us that it’s never too late for forgiveness, for healing, for reconciliation, for redemption.  It’s never too late to imagine a new story, even one that feels at times impossible.

So, come on Sunday, and let’s celebrate together, and remind each other – that we are still in the middle of a story that we are writing together, and that so much remains unknown, and out of our individual control – and, despite what we might think sometimes, that’s such good news.  Because then in the midst of some of the darkest days, there emerges Emma Gonzales, and Naomi Wadler, and the movement for Black Lives, and the intersectional work of the Women’s March.

Our task, as we gather, is to make space in our hearts, and in our lives, for all that is trying to be born, and to keep doing our own work that we can be shepherds of a new day, and a changed story.  And to give thanks, for this good and worthy work that we can do together.

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Becoming Belonged

Dinner.  Sharing stories.  For-real check ins.  

It’s a simple concept, but it’s not an obvious one.   The conventional wisdom these days is that we’re so busy, the only way to get folks to engage is to make it as easy, short, and simple as possible. To ask that people meet every single week, for 2 hours or more, for 8 weeks, and maybe longer – it’s too much.  

But the fact that we are over-programmed is only one part of the truth; the other, is that we are under-belonged.

I know, “belonged” isn’t technically a word.  But it helps describe how it happens.

Belonging isn’t passive – it’s active, it takes work, and discipline, and commitment – from us, and from others.  Belonging requires partnership.

Although we have more opportunities than ever before for connection, belonging is in short supply.  Only when we decide to prioritize opportunities for real connection, when we show up for true relationship with those who are committed to true relationship with us – can it really take hold.

This is the theory behind our Gather Groups – a new initiative that isn’t so much an initiative as a whole new way of being together.  

Last month at our Group Link we launched 8 new Gather Groups – and 2 pilot groups were already under way – that makes 10 groups of about 10, all of whom are following that simple formula: Dinner, Sharing Stories (related to faith), For-Real Check-ins.  Every Week.  Eight weeks – and then…maybe more, or something else, or – who knows.

Simple, but not easy – and not that short.  Simple, and transformational.  

Meanwhile, we’re piloting a Leadership version – which uses the same formula while intentionally putting mentors (i.e. longtime church leaders) with mentees (potential future leaders) to intentionally tend to leadership development in our congregation.  We’re also piloting a Family version, where families with their children meet to gather and grow together, in community.  We’ll be launching both of these in their full versions by the fall.

If you missed that first Group Link, not to worry – we’re offering another one on March 17th.  More info and sign up here.  

When I look to our future as a congregation, I am excited about the breadth of our potential impact, but I am also overwhelmed by the depth of our potential connections, the power we have to ease the central dis-ease of life today – our separation, our isolation, our longing to be known, and to know one another – for real.  

Mid-Year Governance Progress

 

Dear Congregation,

We are now mid-way through the church year trying out our new governance approach, and would like to provide an update. You may remember at our last congregational meeting in June of 2017, we voted affirmatively to slightly adjust our bylaws and move forward with procedural and structural changes targeted at further empowering and energizing our mission together.

The Governance Committee interviewed Board members and Rev. Gretchen in December of 2017. Together, we checked in on the progress of transitioning into the new governance roles and assessed where things were either working well or needed additional improvement.  

Generally, all parties are making very good progress toward filling their respective roles and increasing focus of talent and resources to appropriate tasks. Both the Board and the minister report strong collaboration in decision-making and discussions. Rev. Gretchen is providing excellent monthly progress reports to the Board to enable monitoring and oversight. Both the Board and Gretchen are referencing the policy book, appreciative of where sufficient guidance was provided and highlighting items that require more clarity.  The greatest challenge our leaders face in making this transition is completing Board adjustments to truly focus on their role in setting vision and mission, and achieving the desired level of congregational engagement in that process. This is expected in this first year of effort, and we expect it to continue for some time.

In the spring, a deeper assessment of the effectiveness of the governance approach will be conducted, collecting input more broadly from staff, volunteers, and members.

The full report of the mid-year progress is located in our Governance Documents area of the website. View it here. We will also be providing an update at the Congregational Forum on January 21st.

Yours in Community,

The Governance Committee on behalf of the Board

Pausing the Holiday Rush

This week marks the beginning of advent, which in the Christian tradition is a season of anticipation, paying attention, and waiting.   It is a time that invites our intentional pause, and slowing down so that we might more fully notice all that is about to be born.

In other words, advent embodies precisely the opposite of what many of us are feeling this holiday time of year.  So often we spend our Decembers in a rush, filled up not with anticipation but with anxiety, overwhelm, and sometimes even dread.

This year, we could all use the practice of advent.  To listen more intentionally, that we might hear beyond the restlessness, to pause more fully that we might see beyond the rush, to breathe more deeply that we might know ourselves still becoming, to see all that is growing and beginning in joy.

During this holiday season, we invite you to join us for a time of greater intention, attention, awareness, anticipation, and joy.

  • Join us on Sundays for explorations of memory (12/3) and hope (12/10), as well as our special all-music Sunday on the 17th with a theme of JOY.
  • Also on the 17th, join our Earth Based Path group for a traditional casting of the circle in honor of Yule – set up at 5, ritual at 6.
  • On the 21st we’ll gather to welcome the return of the light for our special holiday vespers at 6:15.
  • On Christmas Eve (a Sunday this year!) we’ll have 4 services – 10 am (a “Kitschy Christmas” celebration), 5 & 7 pm (family Christmas services) and 9 pm (Lessons & Carols).
  • And on New Year’s Eve Sunday, we’ll celebrate Fire Communion at 8:30 & 10, and at 11:30 we’ll share in waffle church with an abridged Fire Communion service.

Beyond worship, join us on the 17th for our annual Holiday Craft Fair – a sure bet for any gifts you haven’t yet been able to find.  Also, look for news from Chris Reed on our new-this-year family holiday pick-up choir.

Over the Christmas week, we’ll also be hosting families experiencing homelessness with Faith Family Hospitality, and we invite you to sign up to bring and share in a meal, or stay over night.

Whether in worship, in community, in service together, or simply in the breaths that fill all the space in between all of these, and that flow through and connect us all – in these days, my hope is that we can all find that pause of advent in our holiday rush, and remember there what it feels like to anticipate with joy, to notice with wonder, to let laughter overcome us, to be filled with hope.  This is my hope, and it is also an invitation, to keep coming back to this pause – we can practice, and become, together.

Auction Items Still Available

Let the SUUn Shine In!

The auction was a great success!  Thanks to all – donors, attendees, and over 50 volunteers – who helped make it happen. Donors, you’ll be receiving an email soon – it will come from Community Auction Services, so make sure it doesn’t end up in your spam.  The auction made a profit of just over $20,000!  Amazing! The Special Appeal fund is up to $14,925!  Awesome! And we can make even more money – here are some spots left in fun events!  To sign up, email foothillsauction@gmail.com by next Wednesday, November 29th, at 11:59pm.  First emails get the spots. We’ll email you the details on how to collect.  Also, if you’d like to add to the Special Appeal, email us, too.

Thank You,

Your Outta Sight Auction Team

#110 Filipino Dinner for 10 – 12/02/2017(that’s soon!) Learn to cook Filipino food and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Marilou Smith, a native of the Philippines, will show you how to make LUMPIA (spring rolls), world-famous CHICKEN-PORK ADOBO, PANCIT BIHON (sauteed rice noodles with vegetables), LECHON PORK BELLY and LECHE FLAN for dessert!  Only 1 spot left!  $20. Marilyn Pierson and Mike Melville.

#101 Enjoy an evening at the Gessler’s (1/26/2018) as Historian Ken Rock talks about Germans from Russia: from the Volga to the Poudre! An abundance of desserts will be served.  5 spots available; $15 each.

#105 Charades! 4/07/2018.  Keeping the Foothills UU tradition, passing the torch.  An evening of astonishing creativity, (sometimes embarrassing) innovation, and just plain hilarity…Libations and outta sight appetizers served. At Polly Walters’ house. Only 1 spot left!  $25.

#108 Dr. Who Christmas Special Gathering – 12/27/2017.  Join with other UU Whovians (not to be confused with Whos from Whoville) for dinner and the theatrical showing of the Christmas Special at Cinemark on Timberline. Diane Barrett and Margaret Cottam will provide dinner, movie tickets and popcorn.  4 spots available; $20 each.

#111 First Annual White Elephant Party! 1/27/2018. Bring your favorite unwanted item to exchange at the Rhodes’ First Annual White Elephant Party! Hors d’oeuvres and beverages, then a hot chili dinner (veggie and carnie options available). Afterward, we’ll gather ’round for an old-fashioned “Thieves’ Exchange”. EACH participant should bring one WRAPPED item of their choice – this is your opportunity to re-gift that sweater or tacky wall hanging someone gave you over the holidays! 3 spots available; $20 each. Tom and Ticie Rhodes.

#112 Foothills’ Fabulous Afternoon Tea Party – (date TBD – probably Jan or Feb).  Join with other UUers for a special tea party, multiple courses of savories and sweets, and a variety of teas – catered by Pemberley Woods, Jenn Powell’s new business!  Only 1 spot left!  $20.

#116 New Orleans Feast – (this sold out on Auction Night, but 2 spots have become available since then) – 3/3/2018 – Join Mary Louise and Jim Gerek as they prepare and serve gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and other favorites – for an evening of good food, appropriate libations, and good conversation. 2 spots available; $35 each.

#120 House Concert by Vicki Pompea, at Cathy and Larry Watson’s home, featuring FABULOUS original music and some familiar tunes in a beautiful and relaxing venue. 3/24/2018.  Listen with your heart and soul while sipping wines and savoring delicious hors d’oeuvres. Vicki is a folksinger, songwriter, and guitarist (called a “female John Denver”).  10 spots available; $20 each.

#204 History Colorado Center Family Visit – Take the family out for a fun and educational visit to the History Colorado Center in Denver.  Item is a letter redeemable for a Family Visit (2 adults and 2 children).  You will also receive a copy of Colorado History Magazine.  Letters expire on October 31, 2018.  $30 (or make an offer).

#407 Miramont One-Month Family Membership – 1 One-month Premier Family Membership at Miramont. Valid for new members only. Get fit as a family!
Expires 11-1-18. $125 (or make an offer).

#702 A private Beauty Class offered at Sephora, 90 minutes.  In a quiet group setting during closed store hours, learn how to apply everyday makeup with our class facilitator, beauty coaches, and have private shopping time!  Date to be determined, likely a Sunday evening a 6:30 in late January, 2018.  8 spots available; $25 each.

#703 Belly Dancing Class 1/13/2018 – Hannah Mahoney’s Belly Dancing Class is back! Have fun learning some new moves and shaking what your mama gave you! Saturday, January 13, 2018, from 10:00 to 11:30 am – will be held at a dance studio in Fort Collins. 4 spots available; $15 each.

#713 Introduction to Tai Chi Chih in Your Home – Instructor Doriane Tippet will come to your home and teach slow, simple movements that open one’s meridians and lets the Chi (energy) flow. One-hour introductory session, to be scheduled at your convenience. Can be done standing, or in a straight-backed chair. 3 spots available – $20 each.

#718 Salsa Dance Lesson – 2/23/2018 Our own Kathryn Boyle and Darrick Hildman are offering a Salsa dance class. Singles and couples are welcome. In the church social hall. Put on your dancing shoes and join the fun! 12 spots available; $20 each.

#809 The Process Painting Experience – 2/08/2018. Interesting and exciting, the Process Painting Experience is an art form that requires no previous art experience, just a willingness to play with color and form and a commitment to the free flow of your own creativity. All materials will be supplied. We will paint for 3 hours, then discuss what happened, how we liked it, and so forth. Lola Sorensen. 4 spots available; $40 each.

When the Special Appeal became extra special

For many years, the special appeal at the annual auction has allowed the congregation to fund something that – although not funded in the regular budget – would make a real difference in congregational experience.  The special appeal has funded the benches on the patio, the lightweight tables in the social hall, the screens in the foyer and RE building, and the initial set up of the projector and screen in the sanctuary – and much more.  This has all been incredible, but a few years ago we had the idea that we should do something even more “special” with the special appeal.  We should share it.

It was the year we’d started sharing the plate with a community partner, and we knew how powerful it could be to be able to do something big and generous for one of our partners in Fort Collins – so that we wouldn’t just be keeping the money to grow the blessings in our community, but we’d be passing it on – which felt like living our values.  And so we tried it out, and the results were incredible.  Suddenly instead of raising $3,000 or $4,000 in the special appeal, we started raising $7,000, and then $9,000, and then….last year was the most amazing thing when we raised over $18,000.  You can read about all the worship improvements that these funds enabled in this blog post from Chris Reed.

But maybe even more importantly, nearly $9,000 of this money went to our partners at Faith Family Hospitality to support the building of a patio and playground for children at their new transitional housing unit – a house that FFH leases from the city as a temporary home for up to seven families working towards self-sufficiency.  This home is currently under renovation, and over $300,000 must be raised to complete this project.  Which is why for this year’s Special Appeal, we’re going to keep supporting FFH and this important work!

This year we hope to raise $10,000 for FFH to replace dilapidated kitchen cabinets in the transitional home, known as Sherwood House. There are three communal kitchens in this old home, and all need new cabinets.  And in turn, we’re planning to use the money we raise for Foothills to do a complete overhaul of our Foothills’ website – which as you may have noticed, very much needs it!

A few years ago we might have thought that this goal number was far out of our reach – but this congregation has shown us again and again that this is not the case.  The generosity of this community has been incredibly inspiring, and ensures that we are in so many ways living up to our mission of truly unleashing courageous love both within and beyond our congregation.

Thank you for being a part of this important and extra-special effort, and hope to see you at the auction on November 11th! Get your tickets here.

Worship Improvements Made Possible By 2016 Auction Funds by Chris Reed

Our goal was to improve the worship experience for everyone, especially to enhance the experience for those in the social hall given our frequent over-flow seating. Here’s a list of all the ways we’ve been able to do this as a result of your generosity:

  • We purchased more hymnals, so we are now able to provide good hymnal coverage for our very largest services.
  • Over the summer, we added live streaming of our services on the Foothills Facebook page. We have been thrilled with the reception that this has received online. Now, if you are traveling, are ill, or simply can’t be in the service for any reason, you can now join with all of us online.  You can find the live streams on our Facebook page approximately 5 minutes before each service begins.
  • We reworked the stage lighting to make the stage more visually accessible.
  • We purchased and installed a new projector in the sanctuary, as well as a large video screen in the social hall.
  • We added a new computer and powerful software to allow us to seamlessly integrate a visual component to our services.

These last two changes mean that you can now expect to see the words to all of the songs we sing on the screen, as well as other readings or pertinent information. The possibilities go far beyond just those items, and we look forward to exploring how this potential can enrich our shared worship experience.  We hope that this makes each element of our services more engaging, and more accessible to every individual joining with us.

The financial resources to create all of these improvements were made possible by your generosity in last year’s auction. Additionally, we were able to stretch those funds so effectively due to the immense generosity of some of our members who spent many hours assisting with this equipment installation.  Wayne Brown, Mike McCarthy, Bruce Wagner, and Rich Roberts were invaluable in making this project happen.

Thank you all so much for helping us to reach more people through our worship services as we continue to unleash courageous love together. I can’t wait to see what becomes possible through your generosity in this year’s auction!