Nominating Committee Update

This update is a part of a Governance Update being sent by email to all Foothills members.

As part of our upcoming Annual Congregational Meeting, we will be electing two new board members and a president-elect. This will leave us with a seven-member board for the coming year (assuming that our Governance trial year receives congregational support).

The three current members of the Nominating Committee will continue on for the next year as their terms are not yet concluded.  As our Governance trial requires a three person Nominating Committee, we will not need to elect additional members this year.

As required by the bylaws, we will be proposing a slate of nominees to be elected by the congregation at the Annual Meeting. You will receive information about these candidates in the packet sent out to all members on 5/17.

In addition, our Committee, in conjunction with the Board and the Governance Task Force, has been taking a more active role in leadership development this year, with the goal to not only identify those ready and willing to serve, but to give them the training needed to be successful in lay leadership positions within Foothills. If you are interested in becoming part of our leadership development process and/or serving as a leader in our congregation, please contact one of our Nominating Committee members by the first week of May if you’d like to be involved this year, and at any point for future leadership.

Thank you!

Nominating Committee – Steve Undy, Chair (steve@roseundy.net), Linda Kothera, Rich Young and Adam Henk

Governance Update from Jody Anderson

This update is a part of a Governance Update being sent by email to all Foothills members.

The Board of Trustees hopes all members are prepared to vote on governance changes at our upcoming annual meeting.  Since the Governance Task Force formed about 18 months ago, we have received support and encouragement from members and staff throughout the church through congregational meetings, informational discussions, book discussion groups, and electronic communications conducted over the last twelve months.  We hope you have had a chance to participate, provide feedback, and learn about this important work to help align our governance structure with our church size and mission.

We are planning to conduct a trial year using our new governance structure, and will need to slightly amend our bylaws to enable that trial.  The key changes we are proposing include:

  • Role of the Board – The Board will shed its administrative role and instead concentrate on discerning mission, setting goals, dialogue with the congregation, and oversight.  This is something that the Board has been already in many ways practicing over the last 5 years as we have grown in size.  This will formalize this role and add clarity, as well as enhanced methods of monitoring and accountability.  
  • Board Size – The Board will reduce to seven, a more appropriate size for its new role (currently there are 11). The congregation would elect 2-3 Board members annually.
  • Delegate Operations – The senior minister, in partnership with the congregation and Board, would manage “operations” as head of staff.  This role would hold responsibility for all administration, programming, and shared ministry as well as Sunday services and pastoral care through delegation to paid staff and members/friends of the congregation, aka volunteers. Again this is already in many ways the case; this would formalize and add additional structures for accountability, alignment and monitoring of this work.  
  • Policy-Based Guidance – The Board will use written policies both to guide and hold accountable all those who help carry out the mission, including the ministers, staff, and volunteers.  Overseeing and keeping effective these policies will be a part of the Board’s new role.
  • Committee Structure – The Board will have three appointed committees:  Finance, Personnel, and Governance. It would have one elected committee, Nominating.
  • Nominating Committee – The Nominating Committee will reduce to three elected members (from the current five).  Its members will interact with the congregation, ministers, board, and Leadership Development team to identify the coming needs, develop job descriptions, and clarify role requirements, and ultimately nominate a slate of nominees for all elected positions that comply with established policies.
  • Leadership Development Team –   This team will be a newly formed ministry team charged with building and developing our future leaders through training, coaching, and open and inclusive engagement with the congregation.
We are excited to be making these changes!  It is long overdue for a growing church like ours.  We have been doing some of these things for several years, formally and informally.  This process has taken the best of what we learned through practice, research, and deliberation, to outline a foundation for the future.
To see the proposed bylaw changes, supporting concurrent resolution, policy examples, and glossary, visit us in the social hall between services on April 30, May 7, and May 14.  You will also have a final opportunity to dig into the details and ask questions on May 21, between services, during a Governance Review meeting.
If you have any questions about our work, please feel free to contact our chair Jody Anderson, jodeenanderson@gmail.com.
Thank you!
Governance Task Force – Jody Anderson, Brian Woodruff, Elizabeth Stanley, Tom Inscho, Ed Beers, and Rev. Gretchen Haley (ex-officio)

Time Out!

It’s that time of year again right?
Spring awakens new possibilities.
The church and school “year” is coming into new rhythms as the specter of summer is rising.
I hear everyday of all the balancing acts that many of you, beloved Foothills folks, are currently engaged in – like amateur tightrope walkers thrust into the middle of the circus to perform on the high wire- and it astounds, humbles and confuses me.
It’s just that time of year again right?
In Greek (typical thing for a minister to say right?), there are two works for the concept of time. Chronos, is the more familiar one – that sense of time as sequential, chronological, as moving in one direction, always and ever forward.

 

That is the sense of time that compels us to say, “It’s just that time of year again”. I usually fool myself into believing that once “this time of year” passes, as it does in its rigid but not always orderly way, that I am promised something will change.  And yet, if I am to be honest, it always seems like “it’s that time of the year”.

 

Which is where Kairos, the second notion of time holds and saves us. Kairos asks us to uncover what in the time is emerging. What events of significance are pushing their sprouts up to the surface of our souls ready for us to tend to them?

 

What season do you find your ‘self’ in right now? Beyond the soul-compressing demands of chronos, what sprouts of possibility do you dare to recognize that are pushing their way out of the compost of the moment?

 

My challenge to you, and if I am truthful, to myself even more, is to balance our cultural indoctrination in the world of chronos with a love of kairos. A new texture of time that dares us to live with the question posed by social justice warrior Grace Lee Boggs:  “What time is it on the clock of the world?”.  I think, the answer is not simply, April, 26, 2017.

Stewardship Campaign Update April 2017

foothills-heartflame-logo-2-1-17-answering-the-call-o-love-1The Stewardship Team would like to thank you for Answering the Call of Love!  We are wrapping up our Stewardship Campaign, Foothills’ annual fundraising drive.  And once again, you’ve come through for a successful campaign. The most exciting news is that we have surpassed 400 pledge units for the first time in our church’s history!  We have 414 households making financial commitments for the support of our church and our work in the community and beyond.  Thank You!  This includes 49 new pledge units, which is up from last year’s 39.  Thank You, New Folks!  And our total so far … drum roll, please… is $659,874!  This is an increase of 7% – very exciting – and that amount will rise throughout the year.

Your financial commitments range from $20 a year to $20,000 a year!  WOW!  Our average pledge is about $1,600.  Our new pledgers averaged $791.  336 of our pledge units are Members; 78 are Friends.

You should have received a letter in the mail last week confirming what you indicated your financial commitment is.  If you didn’t respond to our initial request, we kept your amount the same as last year, as has been our policy the last several years.  Please take a look at it.

For those of you who are data nerds, we will be crunching the numbers further in the next few months, and more statistical information will be available.  We are encouraged by the trends we’re seeing.  Thank you for your generosity!  I hope you feel, like I do, that being a part of the culture of abundance here at Foothills feels good. Together, we are truly making a difference for our congregation and our community.  Thanks again for Answering the Call of Love.

With Gratitude,
Kay Williams, Chair – and the Stewardship Team:
Andrea Bazoin, Jim Lathrop, Peg MacMorris, Brendan Mahoney, and Lynn Young

Following an Earth Based Path

by Libby, a member of Foothills

I am a wildlife biologist and animist, which means I balance being a scientist with a belief that everything on our planet has a spirit. I also believe in the interconnectedness of these spirits in the web of life – whether at the molecular, physical, or metaphysical level – we are all one connected being.  We are the ferruginous hawk, the cutthroat trout, the bison, the coal and oil extracted from the ground, and the prairie meadow at sunrise. When I see these things, I see the divine. When I look out at your faces, you reflect back to me this same connection to divinity in our natural world.

Nathan has been asking me recently where and when he can see gods, goddesses, and spirits. As an adult with an earth-based spiritual practice, I have gained my own familiarity with how to see these spirits. Now as a parent, I’m challenged with how to share this knowledge with my son in a way that makes sense and won’t get him ostracized at school.  As a parent, I have appreciated the religious education classes here at Foothills that reinforce and expand on what I teach at home.

One of the reasons I became a member of Foothills is one of the core theological principles of Unitarian Universalism is that “All of life is connected and interdependent”.  That the ground we walk on is holy, the air we breathe is holy. That as a community we affirm that all life on this planet has an inherent worth and dignity, not just human life.  Celebrating Earth Day is a reaffirmation for us as Unitarian Universalists to find and care for our holy planet. As science teaches us, each of our actions has a reaction, whether in service projects, prayer, meditation, or in climate justice advocacy work. We light this chalice to honor the earth and all our actions to protect her.

Simple, Serious, and Solvable: The Three S’s of Climate Change

Simple, Serious, and Solvable: The Three S’s of Climate Change

by Dr. Scott Denning. Scott will be leading a four-part series on the Three S’s of Climate Change beginning on May 6. Learn more and sign up online. 

Climate Change is Simple. Heat in minus heat out equals change of heat. When Earth absorbs more heat than it emits, the climate warms. When it emits more than it absorbs, the climate cools. This simple principal explains why day is warmer than night, summer is warmer than winter, and Miami is warmer than Minneapolis. It also explains why adding CO2 to the air causes global warming. The absorption of thermal infrared radiation by CO2 was first measured 150 years ago, has since been confirmed thousands of times by labs all over the world, and is extremely well understood. There is no doubt at all that adding CO2 reduces Earth’s heat emission and therefore causes global warming.

Climate Change is Serious.  Warmer average temperatures are associated with dramatic increases in the frequency of extremely hot weather. Warmer air evaporates more water from soils and vegetation, so even if precipitation doesn’t change the demand for water will increase with warmer temperatures. Adding water vapor to the air also means there is more water available for heavy rains when the right conditions occur: this means that in addition to more drought, a warmer climate will include heavier rainfall during extreme events. Warmer ice sheets release more water the oceans, which also expand as they get warmer. These two influences raise sea levels, threatening coastlines everywhere. Higher seas imply much more frequent coastal flooding, requiring abandonment long before mean sea level reaches coastal infrastructure. Without strong policy, these impacts will become more and more severe almost without bound, growing to become the most serious problems in the world and lasting for many centuries after fossil fuels are abandoned. The consequences of unchecked climate change to the global economy are unacceptable.

Climate Change is Solvable.  Preventing catastrophic climate change will require abundant and affordable energy to be made available to people everywhere without emitting any CO2 to the atmosphere. This will require both the development of energy efficient infrastructure and very rapid deployment of non-fossil fuel energy systems, especially in the developing world.  From an engineering perspective, both objectives are eminently feasible with mature technologies. Economically, the clean energy transition will be expensive, involving roughly 1% of the global economy. This cost is comparable to previous development achievements such as indoor plumbing, rural electrification, the global internet, and mobile telecommunications. Our descendants will better lives by developing and improving their infrastructure just as our ancestors did.

Climate Change is Spiritual. The moral implications of climate change are profound, challenging us at a level even beyond war and poverty to dig deeply to support what’s right against what’s wrong with the world. The potential for harm is nearly as great as the threat we faced from nuclear holocaust, yet the creeping nature of the threat makes it very hard to address. Confronting this challenge threatens to paralyze us into ineffectiveness with despair. Responding to this spiritual crisis calls us to Active Hope,  to prayer, and to Courageous Love!

Reflections on Foot Washing

Reflections on Foot Washing

Behold what you are. Become what you receive. Take up this bread and wine. Embrace the mystery.Last Thursday, a group of about twenty or so, gathered in the evening for a Vespers service on what Christians call Maundy Thursday — or Footwashing Thursday. Church members Lenny Scovel and Karen Robinson reflect below about their experience at the first foot washing at Foothills in recent memory.

From Lenny Scovel:

To sit in darkened silence is one thing; to share a visceral experience is something wholly (and holy) other. I’ve become accustomed to Foothills Vespers services as a quite time, a reflective time. A little singing, a little ritual. And yet, the recent Vespers celebrating Maundy Thursday transcended all others through a simple act: the washing of feet. It is a ritualistic practice, reminding us of how we are called to be in service or minister to each other. The act itself was simple, but the feelings of connection, of care, of touch, were transformative. It is good to be called out of our places of comfort, to be made vulnerable, even for just a moment. Our church home is a safe place, where vulnerability is not seen as weakness, but rather as necessary in the process of transformation.

From Karen Robinson:

On Maundy Thursday about a dozen of us gathered for a service led by Gretchen, Sean, Chris and Kara Shobe.  I found it very moving, especially the foot-washing, which I had never done before.  I have always loved the original story, where the disciples are quarreling about which of them will be the leaders in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus kneels and washes their feet, the task of a servant.  When the disciples object, Jesus says essentially that if he can take the role of a servant, then it’s not beneath them.  The disciples find it awkward, and we did too, but well worth the effort of overcoming the awkwardness.  

We were told that no one had to participate, but most people did. Sean explained that it wasn’t going to be “scrub a dub-dub”, but just a simple pouring of a bit of water and drying with a soft towel. I wimped out a bit and had my husband wash my feet, something he’s done before.  But then I washed someone else’s feet and found it a profound experience.  I’m not very good at serving others, and it felt like it was good for me.

We also had a sweet communion of grapes and fresh-made bread.  I thought the grapes were a nice idea; easy clean-up with no worries about what kind of cups to use, and whether to have wine or juice.  They also made an evocative connection to the earth.

The music was lovely and meditative, a chant-like phrase we could sing from memory, and a longer song which was printed on the back of the small card that served as a program.  Chris played some quiet piano music, and Kara and Gretchen led the singing.

When I was a Christian, as a child and young adult, Holy Week was the high point of the year.  When I left Christianity, I didn’t go away mad.  I still love the Jesus I met in my liberal childhood Methodist church, and it was so nostalgic to remember him in such an intimate way.”