#MeToo

#metooOver the last year, we have been inspired and strengthened by the the rising #MeToo movement, which seeks to end the silence around sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct that people of all genders, and especially women, have experienced, and to draw attention to the magnitude of the problem.

On March 25th, we will be holding a service exploring the #MeToo movement.  As a part of this service, we invite your #MeToo stories and testimony. We will be sharing small parts of these during the service. Please send your story to metoo@foothillsuu.org. If you want to remain anonymous, feel free to print up your story and mail it or bring it to the office in a sealed envelope and put it in one of our boxes.

Additionally, we invite all women to join in a women’s choir to sing the women’s march anthem, “I Can’t Keep Quiet” as a part of the service.  All who identify as women, regardless of singing background or ability, are invited and encouraged to join in. We will rehearse Sunday March 18th at 1pm, and Wednesday the 21st at 6pm. Please RSVP to chris@foothillsuu.org and he will send you the music and recordings for your part.

Finally, following each of the first two services on the 25th, we will be holding two conversations about being an ally for those who have experienced sexual assault, hosted by a newcomer to Foothills, Hudson Wilkins. Hudson is a local therapist whose practice focuses on healing from sexual violence and who heard about our #MeToo service and wanted to be a part of this important work. Look for more information in an upcoming Communicator or Sunday Bulletin.

Our history as advocates for lifespan sexuality education and our affirmation of healthy sexuality as an integral part of a healthy life calls and challenges us to be the church that explicitly supports the #MeToo movement. Join us on March 25th, and join us in this journey as we look ahead to building a healthier culture for all people.

In faith,

Rev. Gretchen Haley & Rev. Sean Neil-Barron

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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.  

Board of Trustees News #1: Seeking Congregational Input on Our Vision

We’ve been a busy Board already this year! Because we have so much to share, we are offering it in three parts….first up, an update about our need for congregational input on our vision by way of the “Future-Oriented Questions.”  

Over the years, our Boards have long engaged in visioning and planning for the future. However, they also had significant responsibilities in operations. Under our new governance system, the ministry team is responsible for the day-to-day running of the church, which allows the Board to spend much more time on high-level questions and visioning.

Now, each year, the Board will go through a process of listening and deciding where our mission calls us to go next. To do this, we listen to you, the congregation, and we consider our place in the community.  The dialogue with you happens through our Future-Oriented Questions.  At our annual Board retreat, we decided on these three questions as the basis for our conversation this year:

  1. How might we re-imagine a joyful, spiritual, human-centered and sustainable community and environment?
  2. Who does the mission call you to be in relationship with, and what does it mean to be transformed/changed by this work?
  3. What would it take for people to know you and for you to know yourself deeply? How does that manifest in the congregation?

We’ve already started to explore these questions in worship over the past few Sundays, and will continue that in the next few weeks.  We hope that you will take a little time each week to reflect and then to fill out the survey either online (here’s the link) or on paper.  Extra paper forms are in the office.  Our shared dialogue becomes our future, and so we are grateful for your willingness to share your stories and feedback as we discern together where and how we will unleash courageous love in the coming years.

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!

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.