Worship Themes 2015-2016

We are excited to be entering our 2nd year of theme-based ministry. This year, we have decided to join with a collaborative of many other UU Congregations (including all those in our immediate surrounding area) as a part of Soul Matters, a theme based learning circle, and will for the most part be following the shared themes of the collaborative.  This means we will get to share resources and ideas about how to implement the theme in religious exploration, through music, and in our small group settings.  Find out more about this collaboration at http://www.soulmatterssharingcircle.com.

Our Worship Themes for the coming year will be:

  • September: Invitation
  • October: Forgiveness
  • November: Grace
  • December: Expectation
  • January: Resistance
  • February: Desire
  • March: Liberation
  • April: Creation
  • May: Blessing
  • June: Simplicity

Do you have a favorite poem, book, or article that speaks to one of these themes? Do you have a personal story about your own reflections on one of the themes? Let me know (gretchen@foothillsuu.org) before the 15th of the prior month, and we may be able to incorporate your submission into our theme based programming and/or worship service during that month.

As with last year, we will be “kicking off” the theme on the first Sunday of the month, primarily through our worship where we will usually be sharing in an All-Church Sunday where all ages are together for at least the first portion of the service to explore a story related to the theme, and begin to share in questions and reflections.

We will also continue to hold a Theme-Based Workshop after the second service where we will go deeper into the theme for all who are interested, which is an especially useful time for religious exploration teachers and small group leaders to come and have some time to reflect on the the theme before teaching and leading it for others.

New this year, we are also beginning a small group focused on the theme as well as sermons as our texts.  This will begin in mid-October, and will meet twice a month through June.  Look for more information on all of this by mid-August with the release of our Adult Religious Exploration 2015-16 Catalogue.

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Proposed Bylaws Revisions, to be Considered at a Special Congregational Meeting April 19, 2015

As we on the Board have worked to refine the governance structure at Foothills, we have kept an eye on our bylaws. They are, we’re told, unusually specific and restrictive. There are areas where our practices have drifted away from the structures prescribed in the bylaws – in some cases, years ago. We have not kept a Church Council since before I began my time on the Board, for example, and we long ago began calling our Canvass Committee by the new name of “Stewardship Committee” instead. The bylaws were not kept up to date as these practices evolved.

More recently, we’ve come to realize that there are some other ways the Bylaws mandate a structure that poorly suits our needs as a large church experimenting with different ways of operating. When Rev. Keyes arrived, he pointed out that we might not want to continue to have a Committee on Ministry or Personnel Committee. He suggested that we might find we were able to get more accomplished with a smaller Board – perhaps 7 members, rather than the 11 that our bylaws mandate? And as we have begun to adopt what’s known as policy governance, where the Board focuses on questions of purpose and mission rather than day-to-day operational decisions, it’s become clear that the bylaws suit this new structure poorly.

In short, our bylaws need a thorough rewriting.

The changes you’ll see below do not represent that thorough rewrite, however.

In some cases, we’ve felt that we wanted to delay action on questions that we don’t feel confident we’ve decided yet. Our Committee on Ministry, for example, has spent most of the past year in recess, but neither the COM nor the Board has comfortably decided what that committee’s future should be, so we’ve retained the language in our bylaws requiring that there be a COM, for now.

In other cases, we on the Board have felt that changes suggested by Rev. Keyes, or practiced in other churches, might not suit the needs of our church well. For instance, we have decided to reduce the size of our Board of Trustees, but have settled on a 9-member Board rather than the 7-member size that’s been recommended by David and others. We may yet decide that 7 is the right number, but the composition of the Board seems like an area where caution and gradual change is called for.

Above all, we’ve tried to adopt a slate of bylaws revisions that do not make drastic, sweeping changes to the way this church is operating right now. Some of the changes we’re recommending impact the elections at the upcoming Annual Meeting on May 17th, and need to be made as soon as possible so that our Nominating Committee can know what is required of them. But there simply hasn’t been time for adequate discernment, adequate engagement with the congregation, adequate debate about the content of any broader changes that might be needed some day.

So… what you see below is a set of bylaws revisions that change only what really needs to be changed now. These are edits that seek to protect the church from dangerous practices, reasonably increase our flexibility and efficiency as we experiment with our governance structure, and – critically – leave for another day the biggest potential changes that will really require more debate than we have time for in the waning months of this church year.

I’ve detailed the exact changes below, along with line numbers referencing the most recent (May 2014) edition of our bylaws, and a brief explanation of the thinking behind the change.

Proposed bylaws revisions

Thanks are due to Trustees Elizabeth Stanley and Nate Donovan for their hard work and attention to detail on this project, and to David, Gretchen, and the rest of the Board for their insightful questions and suggestions on the drafts we’ve considered along the way. If you have questions about the revisions we’ve proposed, please feel free to contact me via the Board of Trustees address, bot@foothillsuu.org. We will vote on these revisions in a Special Congregational Meeting, to be held on Sunday, April 19th, between services. That meeting will follow the typical parliamentary procedures, with space for questions and comments as usual. But in the interest of time, I’d welcome a chance to publicly address any common questions beforehand, so I hope you won’t hesitate to reach out to me if you’re confused about the rationale behind anything we’ve proposed.

Thanks for taking the time to read about this. I’ll see you Sunday,

–Rich Young

President, Board of Trustees

Looking ahead together…

Last Sunday a group gathered to talk about plans for the upcoming church year. Over lunch and a lit chalice, we shared in conversation and brainstorming about how to build on the traditions of the past as we look forward to our future.

We are excited to share with you the dates and basic plans for the start up of the new year, and hope you’ll mark your calendars with all these dates and plan to support these programs with your service and your presence.

  •  June 14th – Sunday service schedule begins with one service at 9:30 – continues in the Sanctuary every Sunday until September 13th
  • August 12th– August 16th – Rummage Sale (set up Aug 2nd-11th) – These earlier dates allow teachers and youth to more fully participate in this important event, and ensures plenty of time to clean up and reset before the start up of fall programs.
  • August 30th – Start-Up Breakfast at Foothills after worship service – the timing of the Rummage Sale this year will mean we can have the start-up breakfast at our own beautiful site, ensuring greater participation from our worship community, count on bouncy houses easy access and fun for all!
  • September 5th – 7th – Buckhorn Family Retreat – moving the Retreat to Labor Day weekend will allow for the additional night that many people have been asking for!
  • September 13th – Ingathering Service, we return to two services at 9 and 11 a.m. and official kick-off of programs for children and youth.

Congregational life has changed a lot over the past couple of decades; Unitarian Universalist churches no longer “shut down” over the summer.  We are excited to be able to better fulfill our mission through year round Sunday services and programming.

Lots more details to follow! In the meantime, we look forward to finishing up the second half of this church year with enriching programs and meaningful opportunities, and we are grateful to walk together on this journey.

In partnership,

Rev. Gretchen Haley, Associate Minister

Eleanor Van Deusen, Director of Religious Exploration, Buckhorn Retreat Coordinator

Carolyn Myers, Church Administrator

Jennifer Powell, President-Elect on behalf of the Board of Trustees

Cherry Sokoloski, Pam Stevens and Kay Hood on behalf of the Rummage Sale Team