The Business of the Church – from Board President, Erin Hottenstein

As the school year comes to a close, so does the church year. On Sunday, June 4 at 11:00 a.m. we will hold our official annual congregational meeting. Please save the date! All members will be asked to attend to vote on elected offices as well as bylaws changes and the annual budget.

Lay leaders – who are all volunteers/members of the congregation – and Foothills staff have been hard at work preparing for the annual meeting.
To help members prepare, a packet will be sent out around May 18th by email (paper copies available by request) that will contain the important information you need to know before voting.
At our Annual Meeting, in addition to the elections and votes mentioned above, we will be thanking our outgoing officers, hearing about the results of our stewardship campaign, and officially moving forward on our Governance trial year.  Because this is a lot to pack into a single meeting, and because we have over 600 members, we’d love to be in conversation with you before the meeting to hear your feedback and to help you learn about these various facets of our congregational life.  As a result, in other blog posts you’ll find mini-updates on each of these areas, as well as notices of meetings where you can discuss these topics more fully with their respective leaders.
We look forward to talking more about all of these things with you and moving our congregation forward as we continue to unleash courageous love!  So, please,
mark your calendars and watch your email around the 18th. We look forward to seeing you soon!
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Rummage Sale Update

The Rummage Sale Task Force has been working over the past couple of months to re-envision the Rummage Sale, to address the various issues and concerns that have come up over the year – mostly related to lack of space, struggles to find sufficient volunteers, and an overall stress some have felt in trying to sustain such a big project.

We’ve decided to try scaling back the sale, primarily by doing the following:

  • Reducing the time it takes for set up and sell to 10 days
  • Eliminating and and sale of adult clothing
  • Eliminating collection and sale of electronics
  • Eliminating sales on Sunday. Sunday will be all church cleanup
  • Training additional personnel on non-global pricing to expand number of folks who can do pricing, provide consistency and reduce rework
Additionally, we are looking to enhance the mission focus by connecting it more explicitly to courageous love.  We are exploring the possibility of “sharing the plate” with a selected community partner, and also partnering with that organization for help in setting up and/or clean up of the sale.

 

Additionally, we are establishing a 3 person Lead team – and we are very much in need of 2 additional folks to fill in this role . Without finding people for this team in the next week or so, we will not be able to proceed with a sale this year.  If you would like a great opportunity to make a meaningful difference in our community, and want to learn more about the Lead team, please contact Gretchen at gretchen@foothillsuu.org and she’ll send you the job description and basic time requirements.
We are very hopeful that we can continue this wonderful Foothills tradition!

9GT? Reflections from Alumni

9th Grade Trip Alumni Hannah Mahoney and Grace Hanley Wright reflect on how the experience impacted them years later.  
“The UU faith teaches us that we are global citizens. We are the keepers of this world, responsible for protecting our environment and advocating for justice for our fellow citizens. Those deeply held convictions are developed over time in the UU youth.
One of the moments in my life that helped deepen those convictions and broaden my world-view was the ninth grade trip, which our 9th graders are preparing to go on. The 9th grade trip takes our young people to the Hopi and Navajo reservations, and is a transformative experience. The first time I cried at the awe-inspiring beauty of nature was at Canyon de Chelle, sitting alongside my UU friends. The first time I understood staggering inequality in the United States was at the reservations—-an experience that I never would have had if not for this trip.
As I have grown to travel the world and use my career for social and environmental progress, I am thankful to all of the people who supported me on one of the first steps in my journey. Today, I encourage you to support these youth at the cake auction or through your donations, and I light this chalice in honor of all of the first steps we are continually taking to transform ourselves and the world.”
-Grace Hanley Wright
Ip1070304_32960406236_o.jpg‘ll ask you to think back on 9th grade, junior high school, that time around 14.  You’re not a kid anymore, but you’re not recognized as an adult. You’re to0 young to drive, vote, make real money- and the adults in your life want to protect you, shape you, or control you.  They’re often confused by you, maybe even a little scared of you.  This loving, courageous community is not scared of teenagers! You saw me, and you demonstrated your faith by pulling me out of school and sending me on the 9th grade trip: 10 days away from home & family, on a bus with 40 of my peers, on an epic journey through Navajo and Hopi lands, growing and learning and working together, finding spirituality and creating loving community.  It was incredibly affirming to be lifted up, at that time in my life, by our greater UU community.  To be recognized as a whole person and honored with the responsibility of belonging.  When I came home from the 9th grade trip, I knew my life had begun.
-Hannah Mahoney
For those of you who do not yet know, the Ninth Grade Trip is a 10-day interactive, educational, and spiritual experience through the Navajo and Hopi nations. It takes place after a series of classes that go into depth on each culture. As you may have guessed, this journey is for Ninth Graders.
Like so much in life, I never really saw the importance of the 9th grade trip until I was in the middle of it all. Until I, the standard quiet-kid-in-class type of kid, lost the ability to speak because I was talking more than I ever had before. Until I was watching a sunset in complete silence, and thinking “No wonder they call this feeling Spirit-ual”. Until everyone was saying goodbye, singing a song that will forever feel emotional to me now. I didn’t get it, until I did.
32156812964_b419a5c80f_zBefore that, it was something my brothers had done, that now I had to do. It was this thing that gave me MORE homework, took some of my precious weekends, and emptied my parents’ pockets a bit. The only highlight was snagging cookies from the cake auction.
But in times like these, I firmly believe that having homework for understanding and respecting other cultures is more important than my current homework. That spending time getting to know those in this community while applying the values of this community is the best way to feel connected to it.
So to those of you who are new, and trying to figure out whether this whole 9GT thing is really a thing, I promise it is. Please support it. And to those of you who already know and are going and just waiting to eat cake, I have some parting advice; If you actually wake yourself up for the sunrise walks, you might get to hear Mitch sing one of his favorite songs. And if you are the person who brings a card deck on the bus, you will become very popular very fast.
-Kerigan Flynn
My name is Zia, I am a sophomore in high school and I went on the 9th grade trip last year. The 9th grade trip, changed the way I live, how I interact with people, and my experience with the UU church. During the 9th grade trip I made so many new friends that I am still connected with today even though the trip was almost a year ago. On the trip, there were about 53 other people on a bus traveling to the Hopi and Navajo lands. Imagine traveling thousands of miles to a place that is completely new to us, for 10 days. I guess you can say we got pretty close. During those ten days, I learned that the UU community is my family and that they are worth everything to me. Because of the ninth-grade trip I have become closer than ever to the UU church and community. My 9th grade trip was the 52nd annual trip, and this tradition is an experience I think everyone should be aware of because it will change your teens life like it did mine.
– Zia

From Covenant to Healing: How We Care, and Belong

I remember hearing a story about a young couple that showed up at a church for the first time. They had recently moved to the area and were church shopping. Walking into the church they quickly noticed that nobody, and I mean nobody, was even close to their age. If you took their parents’ age and added it to their age, you would get in the ballpark of the average age of the congregation. But…five years later they were still there. Why?

After they visited the congregation for the first time, one of them was diagnosed with cancer.  Even though they had only been to the congregation that one time, a church member followed up with them.

The afternoon after the first chemo treatment, the couple responded to a knock at the door and they were met with the sight of a casserole sitting on their front door, steaming, and the back of a church member hurrying away. And the casseroles kept coming. For months. Why did they stay? Because the congregation cared about them deeply, and they knew they belonged.

I have only been getting to know Foothills for a short time, but in that time I have witnessed a spirit of love rippling outward. People at Foothills actually want to hear the truth when we ask them “How are you doing?” What a healing balm that is, and how critical it is to that hope we all have to feel like we belong.  

Within our congregation, we have dedicated teams that actively partner in our shared ministry of care and belonging:

  • Our Parish Visitors care and visit with dozens of people within our community each month who need a listening ear.
  • Our Meals Team jumps into action to provide meals during times of stress and need.
  • Our Cards Crew helps us reach out and share our concern 
  • Our Caring Team connects people to rides to church and supports hospitality during memorial services
  • Our small groups – each led by a trained and supported facilitator –  offer a sense of intimacy, connection, and shared spiritual growth

Our professional ministry team, Rev. Haley and myself, extend this care by offering pastoral care and counseling, end of life support, rites of passage, and alleviate financial burdens for members through the Ministerial Discretionary Fund.

If you would like to join one or more of these teams – if you think you may have, as we spoke about this Sunday, a calling to this important ministry, please contact Sean (sean@foothillsuu.org). 

In a church our size, it can sometimes be hard to figure out how to access this care, and you can often wonder if they are meant for you. They are. Dropping by or calling the church office, sending an email to caring@foothillsuu.org or connecting directly with Sean (sean@foothillsuu.org) are the easiest ways to start the conversation. If you think you know a member who might need some support, please let us know in these ways, as well.

This month, our theme moves from covenant to healing.  It is our ministry of care where these two themes come together.  May our walk together be one where we deeply care for each other, healing ourselves, and our world.

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.

Our Coordinated Caring Team

When someone connected to our congregation has a concern, life transition, or something going on in their life, our hope is that we can connect with them in the spirit of our covenant, bringing a sense of a larger presence to those moments in life when it is so important not to feel alone.  Sometimes that “presence” is simply a phone call or a visit, sometimes it is a card from your friends at church; other times it is a ride to church, or a whole series of home cooked meals during a difficult time; and sometimes it is a combination of all of these things.

Over the past few years, our caring team has been expanding and developing to meet all the various needs for presence in our congregations, responding to the growing and changing size and needs of our community.   Here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers about our caring team.  Please let us know if you have a question about something not listed here!

In partnership, Jacqui Wallace, Kay Hood, Bonnie Inscho, Cam Elvheim, and Rev. Gretchen Haley – lead team members for Caring at Foothills 

How do you tell us about a concern, life transition, illness, injury, or something else going on, including a joy? 

  • We ask you to either call the church office at 493-5906 or email caring@foothillsuu.org, or complete the online form here: foothillsuu.org/joys-and-concerns/.
  • You might also go ahead and share about it in the Sunday Joys and Sorrows book, now placed for your privacy in the sanctuary by the sound booth window.
  • All of these will get routed to the On-Call Caring Team Member.

Who should tell us about someone’s concern? 

  • If you know about something going on in someone’s life and have a general sense that it is something the person would be fine with their church’s caring team knowing about, you are welcome to send a note or call us on their behalf, especially when they are not able.
  • Of course, we always welcome and encourage you to share about yourself, for yourself, as well!

Who receives the information when I share it with the church?

  • The information is always routed to our On-Call Caring Team Member who will reach out directly to the person experiencing the concern, expressing our congregation’s caring presence, as well as assessing other needs.
  • It is also always shared with Rev. Haley, and recorded onto our Caring Log so we can be sure to follow up and check in with you.

Who fills the On-Call Team Member role? How does that work? 

  • Our Parish Visitors team rotate in filling the On-Call role – every two weeks.  When it is their turn, they receive the notices of caring concerns, and reach out to the individual directly.  They also see if the individual could use meals, or rides, or a contact from a minister, and generally offer the caring presence on behalf of our congregation.
  • If the individual does need rides, meals, or other support, the On-Call person makes a referral to the lead for the particular area.

What is a Parish Visitor? 

  • A Parish Visitor is a church member who – after applying, interviewing, receiving a background check and proper training – visits with a church member who is either unable to get to church due to injury or illness, or who appreciates a little extra conversation and listening during a time of need from a fellow church member.
  • These Visitors work directly with Rev. Haley, meeting with her at least every-other-month for check-ins and direction.  They also keep Rev. Haley apprised of all of their visits, and work with her directly whenever particular issues may arise.
  • The Parish Visitor program started about 2 years ago, near the end of Rev. Salkin’s time with the congregation, and is a way to ensure that we are better able to reach out and walk with more of our large community.  It is also one of the best ways we express our covenant and our commitment to a shared ministry.
  • Our ministerial team is still always available for appointments for pastoral support.  Reach out to them directly to make an appointment to meet.

Who are the leads for the caring roles?

  • Kay Hood fills the lead role for our Parish Visitors, so when a new Visitor assignment is needed, she works with Rev. Haley to make that assignment.
  • Currently we are in need of a new lead for our meals team, although Jacqui Wallace has been filling in until we are able to fill this role.  This is an important yet not-too-time-consuming role of reaching out to a person in need, to their primary circle of community in the church, and to our regular volunteers who bring meals to those who need a meal, and sets up a meal coordination website for all of these folks to bring meals in a way that meets the needs of the individuals.
  • Currently we rely on an informal network to support our rides, as we recognize that we aren’t able to offer too many rides too often.  We do our best when we are able, and otherwise we help an individual to connect with other supports.
  • Kay Hood and Jacqui Wallace both help ensure that there is support for receptions for Memorial Services.

Is this the same as the “Caring Committee?” How is it different? 

  • While all the elements of the Caring Committee still exist, we have decided not to meet as a whole Committee on a regular basis – because we found that with the Parish Visitor program and our On-Call system, it was redundant.  Instead, people can just jump in and provide the support – no meeting required!
  • So if you know someone needs meals, instead of contacting a “committee,” just use our caring@foothillsuu.org email, or contact the office, and we will coordinate directly with the Meal team.

How can I sign up to help with meals when they are needed? 

How can I sign up to be a lead for either rides or meals? 

How can I sign up or learn more about the Parish Visitor role? 

What if I have other questions about the Caring Team or other elements of Foothills Pastoral Care support? 

Discerning Desires (including an update on personnel committee and assistant minister planning)

From Rev. Gretchen Haley
January always seems a challenging month. All those things we said we would do “in the new year” suddenly need to be done, and there is a little less daylight and a little more cold, making motivation and time harder to come by.  Also, pastoral concerns are often their toughest in January.  The rumors about people “waiting” through the holiday season are true it turns out.  It is tough on the heart, and the schedule.
I was able to take some time away in January, all part of an intentional plan to set the foundations for my beginning as senior minister in July.  It’s not exactly “vacation,” but rather intentionally set-aside time to prepare, study, and reflect.  I’ll be taking a week or two every month between now and July (except this month) for this sort of study leave.
In January, my time was devoted to three things:
First, getting some much needed rest and re-setting after the pace of the past year and a half.  I had a great time catching up on streaming television, books I’d been meaning to read (especially Ta-Nehisi Coates’Between the World and Me), and cleaning the house (for some reason it doesn’t stayclean…).
Secondly, I began setting some important foundations around personnel practices.  I reached out to other UU congregations of a similar size about their practices as an employer, and I spoke with a UUA consultant who specializes in supporting Directors of Music and Religious Education.  I convened a mini-summit of past, present and potential future Personnel Committee members to clarify lessons and questions for us in meeting our ethical, legal and programmatic requirements as an employer. From these initial steps I will be forming an HR Task Force that will (in collaboration with the Governance Task Force) advise the Board and me regarding how we can address these vital questions.  More information on this in the coming weeks.
Third, and perhaps most exciting of all, I spent a good deal of time on the early stages of our search for an Assistant Minister.  I’ll be providing a full update (along with our newly appointed Search Committee – Scott Denning, Bonnie Inscho, Sara Edwards and Tim Pearson) on February 14th after both services.  For now, let me just summarize by sharing that we had a very strong applicant pool from all across the country. By the 3rd week of February we will have that group narrowed down to 2 candidates, and by the end of March, we will likely have a candidate ready to start in August! I am inspired and humbled by the enthusiasm and skills of my colleagues who are applying to serve this congregation and join our team.  We have the great problem of needing to choose the best fit among many strong candidates.  Join us on the 14th at either 10:10 or 12:30 for more information!
With all of these great “away” projects, it remains also a busy and exciting time at the church.  Between the new Foundations series, Sunday services, Vespers, preparations for the pledge drive, and all the usual stuff of church life, I have been feeling a little extra packed.  If you’re with me on that and you too had a busier than usual January, here’s to a return to equilibrium in February – remembering that even when we “desire” to do it all, sometimes the most important part of desire is discerning what we will not be able to do, and how to maintain a sustainable pace.  That’s my hope for all of us – in February, and in our continued shared ministry together.
In partnership,
Gretchen