Foothills Announces Support of #MeToo movement

For Immediate Public Release – Full Text

Foothills Unitarian Church is proud to announce our upcoming plans to explore and support of the #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 Sunday March 25th at 8:30, 10:00, and 11:30 am, Foothills Unitarian Church will launch our public exploration of #MeToo, in a service that will feature story telling, testimonies, ritual, powerful music and theological reflection.

In addition to this service, we will also be changing our signs on Drake – well established in Fort Collins since November 2016 as a much-needed acknowledgment of love for all people, especially those on the margins – to align with our equal support for the #MeToo movement.  Look for these new signs no later than March 25th.

Concurrent to the second and third services (at 9:45 and 11:15), Foothills community member Hudson Wilkins, a counselor who specializes in sexual assault recovery, will be leading conversations on how to be an ally for those who have experienced assault or harassment.  

Additionally, we will be holding a series of conversations aimed at men, hosted by two of our members who are trained facilitators in our lifespan sexuality education program (OWL).  We believe that it is important that as we lift up women’s voices and experiences, we also engage in the re-constructive education to address long standing misunderstandings and harmful cultural norms that have caught men in a culture of toxic masculinity and left them unsure about how to be good allies and companions to women in this cultural moment.  These dates are being finalized.

We consider all of these actions to be the beginning of an enduring commitment to enable a culture change in our lives, in our congregation, and across Northern Colorado and beyond.  

In these days where too often churches are a part of silencing women’s voices, or devaluing sexuality as a part of a healthy and whole life, Foothills Unitarian Church is proud to support the #MeToo movement.  We are proud to be a church that believes women, believes in telling the truth, and believes in working together to create a future of real healing, wholeness, and reconciliation for us all.

For more information about Foothills and the #MeToo movement, contact Rev. Gretchen Haley at  For pastoral support related to sexual assault, harassment, or misconduct contact Rev. Sean Neil-Barron at


Board of Trustees Winter Update

Foothills Unitarian Board of Trustees
Informational Forum and Update
Date:​ Sunday, January 22, 2018

You can view the video recording of the forum by clicking on this link and choosing the January Board Forum in the video player menu.

Following is a summary of the meeting.

● Recognition and thanks to the Auction Committee this year for the outstanding work and funds raised for the church and Faith Family Hospitality.
● Sara Edwards stepped down from her role on the Board and we thank her for her service. Cheryl Hazlitt is filling in behind her in a temporary assigned role until elections are held later this year.

Governance Progress Report by Jody Anderson
This report provided an update on the efficacy of the transition to policy governance. Specific topics the Governance Committee has been tracking include the role of the Board; delegation of work and duties; accountability of ministry team; collaborative governance; and financial management. Overall, the Governance Committee felt the use of the policy governance model was extremely effective. Gretchen Haley provided feedback that it has been very helpful to clarify and define duties particularly related to finance and staff duties.

Mid Year Financial Report – Gretchen Haley
Gretchen reminded us this was a midyear picture (at the end of December) in the churches fiscal year. The church received a $100,000 gift to add to our operation funds this year which has been programmed to use in supporting church activities; staffing needs and the ongoing growth we are seeing. The total amount for the year received was $497,163. The budget set for this year was $426,640. The plate collection at this midyear point is $27,803, and we because of the “Share the Plate”, have share about 60% of that amount. Our operating budget is set at $760,000, and we now have been able to establish the reserves identified in policy levels ($30,000). We are also paying our full fair share to the UUA National and District organization.

Music Visioning and Hiring a New Permanent Choir Director                                                   A task force has researched and surveyed other churches to get feedback on how they operate and function. Vision discernment took place during the fall as the team did small focus groups to get feedback and online surveying as well. This information will be coalesced into the a strategy and assist in determining a job description for the music director position. A search committee will be convened later this spring to begin a national search. Our current director, Chris Reed will have the opportunity to be considered within the applicant pool. NOTE: The board has decided to delay the hiring of a new choir director since this report.

Church Administrator Position and Transition
The Board approved the hiring of a consultant to do an overview of the duties and functional responsibilities necessary for a growing church and priorities. The consultant (Patrick Murphy) will be in the office over the next few months reviewing the practices. We will review these recommendations and look to fill a new position in July. Kathryn has assume facility responsibility and oversight of custodian hours and office volunteers.
Future Staff Planning
2019 is slated to consider ministerial staff needs as we explore the possibility of satellite gathering locations or a minister at one of these sites. We have many people who are semi-engaged, but are not pledging to the church ministry at this time, making the hiring of additional ministerial staff a real challenge.

● No applicants at the moment. The leads and team gathered for lessons learned.
● A survey for congregation feedback has been sent out.
● The current remodel in the RE building has worked well.

A summary of the Future Oriented Questions survey from last fall was presented. There were a total of 48 respondents who identified most significant aspects of Foothills were Relationships & Community, Space Needs, Outreach and Service, Issue Driven Concerns. We are setting up various opportunities for small group dialogues and conversations through the remainder of the year.
● Gretchen is conducting “fireside chats” through the spring. There were 15 in attendance at the first one.
● The board is setting up dialogue groups for various groups based on anniversary years as members, beginning with a board exchange between previous and current board members. These will continue into May.
● The “gather groups” appear to be very successful. Vespers run between 20-40, but attendees are usually coming to an additional service. There are about 90 people that cannot make services work to date. Monthly reports show continued growth to services, and maintaining growth. (Comment: Small groups are wonderful for engagement.)

Space Update
The board met with the city and based on discussions determined we cannot stay at this site due to zoning, growth needs and other building related issues. We have hired an architect as a programming consultant to look at the building activity and space needs. They have met with the staff and will continue meeting with various church groups for activities and spaces. They are also going to review our current campus and give us an opinion about whether we could stay.

We are in the beginning of a 3 – 4 year process which will allow many opportunities for communication and feedback. The Space committee is developing visuals of the timeline and process. (Audience comments: It is important that we start thinking NOW about where we move as part of the process. We cannot wait very long to make that decision of where we want to be in 3 – 4 years. Location and facility are both critical considerations, and should be evaluated as part of our future vision as a church. The UU Church in Tulsa moved back to inner city as part of their outreach mission.)

The current situation with 3 services (which are generally full) is difficult and hard the church staff, but we will not go back to 2. We have received over 400 adults most Sundays. Our current space is a major limitation. The basement of the church is still in need of cleaning out.

End of report.

Showing Up for Democracy: The Women’s March

from Foothills Blogger, Jane Everham


The Women’s March isn’t just for women!

Brian and I attended the first March in 2017 where the organizers hoped for 20,000 attendees – they got 100,000 instead! This delayed the march as the logistics were re-worked, but the standing around with like-minded strangers gave us hope and good cheer.

The 2nd Annual Women’s March took place in downtown Denver on January 21, and even more came to march! Despite the March starting on-time at 9:30, it still took us almost 90 minutes to funnel with the crowd onto 14th St and Bannock – we were so many! This year we encountered numerous of the dozens of Foothills UUs that rode buses or carpooled down to join the March. They carried signs made at various Sign Parties sponsored by church members. The sign I carried said, “Hick, Pardon Ingrid!” and UUs from Boulder and Quakers from Denver, all part of the larger Support Ingrid coalition, recognized its meaning and stopped to talk. Many strangers asked, “Who’s Ingrid?’ and were enlightened on how they could support Ingrid and stand up for justice. It was heartening to hear them express gratitude and support for our Sanctuary efforts.

main photo

Many of the beliefs and principles of Unitarian Universalism were on display at the March.

The demographic of the marchers was extensive and inclusive – babes in arms – girls 3and women – the elderly in wheel chairs – men and boys – LGBTQ – the disabled on scooters – a rainbow of colors. They were from all over Colorado. Most carried signs – many marchers brought extras to share. The signs varied from sweet to snarky to political, and many were very funny:

“It’s about all of us!”  “Girls just want to have FUN-damental rights!”

“I’ve seen better Cabinets at IKEA!”


Note the Ingrid balloon in the background!

We were a mighty, joyous, and peaceful crowd!

Mark your calendars now for the 3rd Annual Women’s March – it is a moving experience of Showing Up -not to be missed!

January 19, 2019.


Progress Is Possible

from Foothills Blogger, Jane Everham

“It is possible to make progress.” said Rev. Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director of Colorado’s American Civil Liberties Union and Unitarian Universalist Minister during his guest sermon last Sunday. Rev. Nathan used two stories to illustrate his point. The first story was about the exertion required in the ground-breaking effort to rebel – (something UUs take to rather well.) The second story reflected a painful reality–our democracy is far from seeing our ideals as universal and fair. He called on us to weave these two stories together in a tale which will prevail and define us – to let our highest ideals “ring true not hollow.”

True democracy, he pointed out, is evident in the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty, in the Suffragettes’ movement, the civil rights’ movement, the support for the LGBTQ community. Our Constitution speaks to us with “We the People”, equality for all.

Rev. Nathan reminded us that though the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” is frequently attributed to Rev. Martin Luther King (who did repeat it often) it was first spoken by Theodore Parker, reforming minister of the Unitarian church. What connects UU’s and the ACLU is our shared belief that no one should be left out from experiencing equality and justice.

Showing up for democracy means having a better sense of what needs to be done. The 2016 election galvanized both our UU world and the ACLU. The population of the ACLU in Colorado in October 2016 was 7,000 – today it is 37,000. This influx of newly engaged Coloradans has enabled the ACLU to hire a Voting Rights Committee Coordination, a Reproductive Rights Attorney, launch a podcast called Purple State Report, and other useful entities that weren’t affordable before.

These words of Rev. Nathan bear repeating – it is possible to make progress. In the last year, much progress has been made. As we look toward the future, the November 2018 election is crucial. He called on us to at the very least show up to vote – at the very least! Or step up and RUN for office. Many, many, new people are entering the political field and running for office for the first time.

Rev Nathan closed his sermon inviting us to stay engage and to do the serious work ahead . . . with joy.

This last point was so important that Rev. Gretchen underscored it in the Gratefulness Moment of the service. “Focus on joy, give thanks for all the gifts of this life – feel gratefulness, gratitude.”

This service, like so many others, was deeply inspiring – I often leave church on Sunday thinking “This is so good, they should charge admission.” But they never will! We are invited to show our gratitude, support, and commitment to our faith’s future through pledging. Speaking of pledging . . . see you at CSU for breakfast at 9:30 next Sunday morning.


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

Reflections on the 7th UU Principle

By Karen Marcus

This post —one in a series about the 7 UU principles — explores the 7th one, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” The “interdependent web of existence” is an abstract concept and, therefore, one that applies to many aspects of life. I asked several Foothills members to share what comes to mind for them when considering the 7th principle.

Natalie Shrewsbury, who has been attending Foothills for two years and has been a member for the last nine months, notes that when you see the world through the lens of the 7th principle, decisions become more complex because you have to consider all factors in every situation. For example, “If you’re thinking about how to be a good land steward in your own backyard, maybe you want to have a garden, or some chickens. You need to consider things like the history of the location, the movement of the sun, how people and animals use the space, and how the land might be used in the future, as well as how your actions might affect your neighbors and the larger community. The idea is to create a space that works for every living being in it: plants, animals, and people.”  

Natalie is concerned that, in the current political climate, decisions are being made too quickly to use this type of problem-solving to take all factors into consideration. For example, she says, “To dismantle the health care system and come up with something new takes much longer than three months. It seems decisions are being made so fast that the decision makers aren’t honoring a wider view.”

As a Foothills member for 30 years, Brian Woodruff was around in the 1980s, when Foothills minister Walter Royal (Roy) Jones was instrumental in formulating the 7 principles. Brian explains, “Consensus on the 7th principle was difficult, and Roy’s language ‘respect for the interdependent web’ won.” As someone who has worked in air pollution throughout his career, Brian is proud of the UUA for including the environment among its principles. Brian sees the 7th principle playing out for some in changed behavior, such as the reduction of energy and raw materials in our homes. For others, he observes, “It manifests as political activism to raise awareness and fight for better environmental laws.”

Brian points out a drawback of the 7th principle: it doesn’t require action. He says, “Pride isn’t enough. I’m interested in motivating Foothills to take action on the 7th principle, in more ways than greening our buildings. Considering that climate change is the most significant threat to planetary health, what might we aspire to do together with the support of a principled church community?”

Ann Molison, along with her husband Bob, attended Foothills from 1983 to 1989, returned in 2000, and have been attending ever since. For her, the 7th principle relates to her involvement with Foothills itself. She says, “Membership has helped me develop a deeper involvement in our church.” Ann believes the 7th principle reflects our relationship to the world around us, saying, “We need this world and it needs us. Not just the people, but the environment both within and outside our church.” Church involvement has helped her to concentrate less on herself and to reach out to others. For example, Ann sits at the Welcome Kiosk on Sundays, helps with the Sanctuary program, attends workshops on the environment, and attends church services whenever possible. She remarks, “Participating in these activities has been a freeing experience and gives meaning to my commitment to Foothills.” 

Laurie Seiler, who has been a Foothills member for 10 years, has always felt connected to “the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” She says, “I continue to learn more about how to respect it. This is both an integral part of my spirituality and part of being a responsible steward of the planet we share with all life forms. Connecting in this way allows me to transmute fear, disappointment, and stress into love, joy, peace, and hope. It also motivates me to do what I can to care for our planet and everyone on it, now and into the future.” 

Laurie observes that it’s easy to think only of survival for ourselves in the current moment and forget to look at all life over an extended period of time. She notes, “When we remember to step back and look at the bigger picture we begin to understand and live in integrity with the 7th principle.”

Like Laurie, for Foothills member Peg MacMorris, “The ‘interdependent web’ embodies the idea of living in harmony with the earth; living in good conscience means limiting our carbon footprints and trying to live as sustainably as possible.” These principles have guided Peg’s life. She notes, “I’m inspired and sustained by time spent experiencing the natural environment, in large and small ways.”

At her former church, Peg worked on environmental initiatives, and at Foothills, she says, “I strive to make our congregation aware of climate justice. I also hope that care for our environment enters into all considerations within our church life, and within the lives of each congregation member.” She is also organizing efforts to help provide energy efficiency and weatherization enhancements for families with low incomes in Fort Collins. The dangers of not making these efforts, says Peg, are “a life out of harmony with the environment, a lack of awareness of our natural surroundings, and a life that is not sustainable for individuals or the community.”

What a great variety of interpretations on the 7th principle. What does it mean to you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!


No Room at the Inn?

No Room at the Inn?



Jose Y Maria by Artist Averett Patterson

Images of Mary and Joseph haunt me. Not the ones you find in most churches mind you, those ones that get commissioned to be placed in stained glass that feature the immaculately white and pure Mary looking all European and very definitely not pregnant or Palestinian.  No, the images that haunt me this time of year are the more raw, modern depictions like Everett Patterson’s Jose Y Maria, which depicts the couple, struggling, in the rain, calling for help, in a bleaker by sadly relatable setting. The No Vacancy sign flickers and calls the question: would you let this couple in?


This is a high bar for most of us to say YES to without reservations. It is one of the reasons I love being part of Foothills, because through all of our shared work, with One Village One Family and our partnerships with Homeless Gear, our commitment to Faith Family Hospitality, and our Sanctuary Church work, we get to answer this question with a collective yes.

But even then the question and the images still haunt me.

Meg Barnhouse in her article Bethlehem’s Hospitality grants me a much needed reframe. Helping me find a personal yes of course in the Christmas story.

When reading the Nativity story through the eyes of Arab-Palestinian culture, one comes to a stunning revelation: There was no Inn.

If you have ever traveled to the Middle East, which I have had the lucky fortune of doing so, you learn quickly highest among all the values is that of hospitality. Even being distant relatives Joseph was returning to his ancestral city, and thus would have been welcomed in by some distant relative.

The room that Jesus came into the world in was not the stable at the back of some Hotel, but Joseph’s distant relatives family room, which according to biblical scholar Kenneth Bailey in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes “had an area usually about four feet lower, for the family donkey, the family cow, and two or three sheep.”

As Meg Barnhouse writes “There wasn’t room in the guest room, so the baby was laid in one of the mangers dug into the stone floor of the family room or made of wood and stood up on the family room floor, surrounded by animals, aunties, uncles, and cousins”

It is the story of the divine being born in the moments when we find our people and together try our best to accommodate all that life throws our way. Even if it is crowded and noisy, even if it all didn’t go the way we planned. Something beautiful, maybe even divine, can happen when we embrace what is, in all its absurdness miraculousness, and just do the best we can.