- Sunday, August 13th 8:30 and 10:00 service, “Just Home,” led by the Rev. Mike Morran, First Unitarian Society of Denver, leaders in the Sanctuary movement in the Denver metro area
- Sunday, August 13th at 11:30 am, following the second service, Informational Workshop on Sanctuary, led by the Sanctuary Team and Foothills staff team – answering all the questions anyone can come up with, talking practical details, sharing in group discernment. Register to attend this workshop here.
- Wednesday, August 23rd at 6:30 pm, a 2nd opportunity for the same information provided at the 8/13 Informational Workshop for those who weren’t able to attend, or who want additional info
- Sunday, August 27th, Special Congregational Meeting at 11:30 am, following the second service, called for the sole purpose of voting on the question “Will Foothills Unitarian Church be designated as a Sanctuary Congregation?” All those who have been members for 30 days or more by 8/27 are welcome to vote.
I’m so happy to share that we have found both dates that will work and a Lead Team of three church members who have agreed to lead our Rummage Sale this year. Which means….the Rummage Sale is on!
The dates for the sale will be August 4th through 6th. (There may be an opportunity for an August 3rd pre-sale, but that’s something the Leads will be assessing.)
The Leads Team is: Pam Stevens, Sara Steen and Julie Estlick. (Thank you!!)
What we need: They will next be looking to ensure they have Room Managers for all of the rooms, as well as a few other key roles. If you are willing to be a Room Manager, or are just wanting to learn more about how to help us have a great rummage sale this year, please contact Pam Stevens directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be posting job descriptions and time requirements for these roles in the next few weeks so look for that as well.
We are so grateful to our Rummage Sale Visioning Task Force of Pam Stevens, Sara Steen, Angie Noden, Diane Banta and Eve Enright to helping us find a new vision for how to have success in our Rummage Sale. From their conversations and plans, we’ve come up with some changes we’ll be trying out this year – from trying out a “Share the Plate” model to scaling back the size of the sale, to having a more intentional leadership structure. You can find out more in this blog post (from the April 5th Extra).
In the meantime, start saving up your GREAT stuff you no longer need! Though we won’t be taking clothing or electronics this year, we would love to receive those wonderful finds that will make someone really happy! Look for more information on this blog, in the Extra, and in church on all the ways you can help make this year’s sale a great success.
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
The Foothills Rummage Sale has been a cornerstone of both our community-building and fundraising efforts over the past three decades. The amount of time and care that so many have given on behalf of the Rummage Sale is truly mind-boggling. This time and care has in turn resulted in up to $25,000 (at its peak so far) in funds to support our mission and vision in a given year. Along the way, the Rummage Sale has been a great way for people to get to know each other and to build friendships that last far beyond the few weeks of the sale. It’s also been a great way to serve our community, offering low-cost good-quality goods right as the school year returns and many are searching out bargains.
Over these same years, however, many changes have been happening both in the church and in Fort Collins. In both, the population has grown exponentially. Within Fort Collins, this population increase has meant that there are now multiple second-hand stores that are open throughout the year, so that our offering isn’t quite as value-added as it used to be. This is a relatively minor consideration, however, as we look at some of the other changes that have occurred….
Within our own community, our growth has meant that space is almost always tight – and as we have moved to a year-round schedule, while the summer is slightly less crowded, it is still often full throughout the week with programs and meetings. Each year, as our community has grown, so have the donations (thank you!), and so the need for space and volunteers have also grown. While we ask everyone to pre-sort their goods, we ultimately have more stuff than we have usable space, and this is frustrating for everyone.
Speaking of that usable space, as religious education classes for children and youth are active and well-attended throughout the whole year, the space available in the Classroom Building is less than it has been previously, and even when it is available, it is able to sustain a much lower impact as it needs to be reset to accommodate children and/or youth every Sunday – so clean up is very stressful. (To help with this, we have experimented with moving the dates earlier in the summer, but this has resulted in fewer volunteers available due to vacations…we’ve wondered if moving to June would be better…?)
Also, over these years our leadership has prioritized holding worship every Sunday as central to our mission. This was especially made possible by the addition of a second minister in 2012. Although we attempted to hold these services outdoors, our growing population and value to ensure the space is accessible to all made this not a viable alternative, and so this resulted in the sanctuary no longer being a place for the rummage sale to be held on Sundays.
The various space constraints are also made more challenging by a dwindling volunteer population resulting from two main factors. First, our longtime volunteers are – much to their chagrin – aging. They no longer can or want to volunteer in the same physically demanding ways that they have in the past. Many have stepped down entirely while others have simply scaled back. The vacancies left by these changes, however, have not been sufficiently filled by a new volunteer base – particularly in terms of taking management and leadership level responsibility.
Younger people today are often overly busy with two-career households and caring for both children and aging parents. Free time is down – nationwide. What free time people do have, they prioritize more direct-service, high-impact, and often short-term volunteer roles – for example, we have no problem filling our 25 twice-a-month Food Bank @ Foothills roles – we actually have more interest than we have volunteer slots – and these are all direct-service, high-impact and short-term roles.
This volunteer shortage means that the community and friendship building aspects of the sale just aren’t as great as they were in the past – because it’s more stressful to do so much work without enough people to do that work. Also with the space constraints, the sale is spread out across more of our campus, meaning volunteers often work on their own – which may be good for some seeking solitude! – but isn’t conducive to the laughter and fun times that many of us remember.
All of this – the population growth, the space constraints, and the changes in volunteering – lead us to wondering if and how we can continue our Rummage Sale in the next year – and beyond. We need new leaders to emerge if we are going to be able to continue – leaders who will look at these challenges and find new and creative solutions, and leaders who are willing to take on a management level role. We believe we will need at least four such leaders to step forward by February 15th if we are going to hold a Rummage Sale this year.
We hope all those who care about the Rummage Sale and who are willing to consider being one of these new leaders will come to a Rummage Sale meeting on Sunday January 22nd at 10:10 in the Sanctuary. If you have questions before then, please be in touch with Pam Stevens (970-225-1223, email@example.com) or Ben Manvel (970-484-3249, firstname.lastname@example.org), longtime dedicated leaders for the Rummage Sale. So much good has happened as a result of this incredible effort, and now’s the time for us to work out the next good steps, whatever those will be.
You might have noticed that Sean doesn’t wear a stole on Sundays, or call himself Reverend. That is because, while he has completed every other necessary step along the path to becoming a minister, including graduating from Harvard Divinity School and completing his post-graduate studies and internship, he has not yet asked a congregation to ordain him — the ultimate symbolic, practical and spiritual step in the process of becoming a UU minister.
Sean could have requested ordination from any of the churches he has been affiliated with (the church he grew up in, the church where he first answered his call to become a minister, or the church that he did his field work in, for example) but he knew that he wanted to be ordained by the first church he served…and that’s us!
We are excited to share that we have been asked to enact this fundamental ceremony of our Unitarian Universalist faith, one that we have not performed for more than 25 years – the ordination of a minister to serve in our religious tradition (our last ordination was in 1991 when we ordained our then intern, the Rev. Thomas Perchlick). And not just any minister, but our own Sean Neil-Barron.
Many of us have heard Sean’s thought-provoking sermons since he joined us as assistant minister in August. Some of us might have received pastoral care from him, or attended a Foundations class, a Vespers service or one of the other small group experiences Sean has helped facilitate with energy, warmth and a passion for deepening our connections with each other and our larger community.
Sean is asking us, as a Universalist Unitarian congregation, to affirm that we find in him a strong and capable minister for our faith. We are honored to affirm his ministry not just generally, but in the many ways we have felt the power and care of his ministry personally.
Unitarian Universalism, unlike other religions, reserves the right to ordain ministers for congregations alone, and not a centralized church leadership. We the people do the ordaining. In doing so we are not making an offer or a call to the minister, but simply and solemnly declaring that we see in him or her a minister fit to serve the Unitarian Universalist movement. We are fulfilling our role and responsibility as a congregation to select the ministers that serve our religious movement, and affirming and authorizing the minister into their service and leadership in Unitarian Universalism. It is a solemn responsibility, as ordination is for life.
At the request of the Committee on Shared Ministry, the Board of Trustees voted last week to hold a special congregational meeting on January 29th with one action item – whether we agree as a congregation to ordain Sean Neil-Barron into the Unitarian Universalist ministry.
All those who have been members for 30 days prior are eligible to vote. If the vote passes, we’ll hold an ordination ceremony in April. The Committee on Shared Ministry will hold a forum between the Sunday services on January 8th to answer any questions about the ordination process.
The Committee on Shared Ministry includes Glenn Pearson, Sally Harris, Anne Hall, Margie Wagner, Sue Sullivan, Rev. Gretchen Haley and Sean Neil-Barron. To a member, we are thrilled that Sean has asked us to perform one of our tradition’s most fundamental religious ceremonies and we look forward to answering any questions you might have about it at the January 8th forum.
In partnership and passion for a brighter world,
What can I do? When things feel off track in our lives or in our world, most of us ask ourselves this question. We want to help, to act – do something! Yet so often, there isn’t anything really obvious to do, which makes us feel helpless, confused, and even more distraught.
One thing that is often overlooked is also one of the most powerful ways to have a big impact – which is to simply show up. Show up for your friends with a phone call, email, or text asking simply, “how are you?” Show up for your children or grandchildren with your full attention sans phone or other distraction. Show up for your friends or for others in the church with coffee, or a meal. Show up on Sunday with a friendly smile and a “welcome!” Show up for your neighbors by cleaning off their walk as well as yours. Show up for your own life, fully present.
The power of our presence is also instructive when it comes to our response in our greater community. For example, the immigration-advocacy group, Fuerza Latina has launched 9 different committees to begin work in various ways to tend to the safety, protection and care of immigrants in our community. At the meeting of the Sanctuary City group on Monday, I was struck by the power of two dozen of us in the room together, all self-selected citizens just wanting to “do something,” and struggling to figure out once again, what to do.
There were CSU leaders, dairy farmers, teachers, social workers, and scientists – and everything in between. Together we stumbled through the questions and task before us, the question of organizing ourselves and coordinating, and attempting to articulate what it was we hoped to accomplish. I’m not sure what will come of it, yet the showing up together remains important. We need to be together, learn together, question and struggle together.
Throughout the meeting it struck me how many other meetings just like this are happening not just in our city, but across the country. Democracy and human relationships are clumsy and slow and yet also beautiful and kind and so well-intentioned. Sometimes the lessons of showing up aren’t just about what you get done, but about cultivating the patience and the perspective to remain steadfast through all the messiness of the real work.
Fuerza Latina is just now getting clear about how best to leverage the great desire to “do something” that exists in our community. I’ll let you know as these and other more action-based opportunities become more clear.
Until then, showing up for one another and for our immediate circle remains vital, and foundational. We have a long road ahead, and our presence for one another and in our own lives is what will make all the difference as to whether or not we can keep showing up for our neighbors – and whether we can, as I said on Sunday, keep doing so with joy, laughter, love – and dancing!
Thank you for your partnership, and for your continued presence.
As the autumn leaves blaze in golden glory, it’s time to review the financial happenings since we started our new church year on July 1. The first quarter news is generally good: we’re on budget for both income and expenses at this early point in the year. We have a bit of a seasonal cash crunch as we do every fall, but we’ve made some changes that will get us through more comfortably than in previous years. This seasonal dip shows how important it is to pay your pledge on a regular basis if you can.
The church budget this year is $717,110. Nearly every dollar comes from us: 91% is in pledges and donations, with the Rummage Sale, Service Auction, and Bookstore each contributing about 2% to 3% of the budget. The vast majority (68%) of our expenses pay for our amazing staff of 6.75 full-time equivalent employees. Like a small business, we have to make payroll, pay insurance, maintain the building, and pay our utilities every month no matter what. At the end of September, we had spent 24% of our annual budget, and collected 22% of our expected income.
There’s a distinct seasonal cycle of pledge income at the church: we collect a big surplus in December, and spend it down for the rest of the year. The graph below shows the church’s cumulative net income at the end of each month over the past five years. A lot of people pay their whole year’s pledge right before New Year’s. I used to do this myself, to make sure I could deduct it on my taxes in April. Unfortunately, this means that we are chronically short of pledge income in the fall every year, so we’ve been encouraging people to pay monthly if they can. As you can see form the graph, the seasonal cycle has been getting flatter in recent years, which is good.
In addition to our regular expenses last month, we had Buckhorn and some work on the building and grounds. This month we pay the interest on our member notes (debt owed to our members). These expenses come at a time when we’ve paid out about $10,000 more than we’ve taken in since July 1. It would really help if more people paid their pledge every month rather than in a lump sum in December!
The church has a reserve fund to get us through the lean times that happen every fall. It was completely depleted a few years ago after the Great Recession, but we’ve been steadily building it back up again and now there’s $40,000 in the reserve. We also made some changes to the way we account for end of year expenses, so we also have over $50,000 in the bank, in addition to the reserve. So we’re in much better shape than we have been in previous autumns.
Look carefully at the lines on the graph that show our cumulative net income at the end of each church year: they always end within a few thousand dollars of zero! This is evidence of good the stewardship of our Board and staff: we develop a budget each March following the pledge drive, then plan and execute for 15 months to hit the target within 1% or 2%.
The church budget is in good shape. Please consider pledging monthly, preferably by automatic funds transfer from your bank. This would help a lot in managing the annual fall dip in our cash flow. Look for another one of these quarterly reports when the snow squeaks under your boots in January!