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!
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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

Board Updates – Leadership Workshop & Pledge Drive

Spring is here and with that a lot of good work is being done at Foothills.

We hope you’ll join us this Sunday at 12:30 for our Congregational Forum where we will be providing an update on the Governance Task Force, the Mission Task Force, and some financial updates.  Bring your questions and your feedback, and as always, we thank you for your partnership and for our walking together in this important work.

This past Saturday, Foothills hosted a gathering of of senior lay leaders from UU congregations all across the area – we had representatives from congregations from Littleton to Casper, with over 40 total participants! It was led by the Rev. Nancy Bowen, Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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This gathering focused on the leadership of the Board of Trustees, the Nominating/Leadership Development Committee, and the Committee on Ministry.  We spoke about what partnership and alignment looks like among a these leadership teams, and how being aligned doesn’t mean doing the same work, but that we are working towards the same thing, same mission.

12924412_1067181093338607_5450508639949069289_nSome of my favorite take a-ways from the day were:

  • How a congregation can grow quickly while successfully protecting human connection.
  • How to find and prepare new leadership
  • The tensions that arise in governance/organizational structure shifts – specifically the ways that as these transitions occur, the organization becomes temporarily centralized in order to establish the new systems, and then as these systems take hold, the organization “exhales” into a less centralized structure.  We spoke a lot about these sorts of polarities, and the need to keep a healthy balance.
  • How we need to strive to be like-hearted instead of like-minded – can we be curious rather than judgmental in our differences?
  • The key leadership practices that demonstrate a covenantal partnership
  • We watched the video from Simon Sinek in his TED talk about the Why, How and What….and how this idea translates inside our congregations – how we too need to start with why.  (This was a perfect set up for the meeting right after this workshop when we continued our good work on our mission statement!)

It was a rich five hours where we all contributed to one another deepening our understanding of leadership in our faith. Your Board, Nominating Committee, and soon to be a new Committee of shared ministries are excited to put these ideas into practice as we complete this church year, and prepare for our future years.

Speaking of our future years – thank you to all of you who have participated in our stewardship campaign over this past month, and an extra thanks to the many of you who have increased your pledges. Your generosity is inspiring and much needed for us to fulfill the very good work of this church. Thank you very much.

As members, we are responsible for our church. Our operating budget is funded almost completely from pledges. This coming year we are paying for 12% increase to our staff’s healthcare, 2 full time ministers, hoping to move Ryan to full time, paying our staff fair compensation per the UUA, as well as pay a living wage.

I ask of my fellow members who have yet to pledge this year to please do so as soon as you can. Your pledges allow us to finalize our budget for the coming year, which we will then present to you all at our annual congregational meeting on June 5th.  When we each participate in the most generous and responsible way we can, we are able to continue the good work we are here to do, and fulfill our mission of making a transformative impact on the world around us.

 

Getting Into Focus

When the board met on February 22, we discussed all the good work being done within our congregation. We all feel spring is in the air. We discussed what we are working on, and what we want to accomplish before our time on the board this year is complete. Here are the areas we are currently focused on, and will be focused on right up to July 1st.

Hopefully all of you know about our Mission Task Force made up of five current board members who met with many of you between services in January to review what we have used in the past for our Mission, as well as discuss what a mission is for, and why we are looking at creating a new one to better reflect who Foothills is today, as well as what inspires us as well as our visitors. We collected many helpful ideas, visions, and words to apply to our new mission. The task force will be presenting a draft version of our new mission to see how it sits with all of us, then they will do some more work on it before they will present it at our annual Congregational meeting for a vote on June 5th.

Our Governance Task Force, which is made up of 2 board members, 3 congregation-at-large members, and Rev. Howell Lind, has now met a number of times. They are well on their way doing the good long work of discovering, creating, sharing, and trying on the best suited governance for Foothills. As we have shared before, this work will take about two years of their time. They are working closely with the model in Governance and Ministry by Dan Hotchkiss.

The Task Force looks forward to gathering information from all of you between services this coming Sunday March 6th, March 13th, 20th and April 3rd in the sanctuary at 10:10am – 10:45am.  They will use your feedback in these sessions to evaluate and updating our governance structure. These first sessions are primarily to collect concerns and questions from the congregation. They will share some of what they have been doing and what they expect to happen as we move through this process but mostly right now they just want to hear from you. Please join us for at least one of these important discussions.

The Board has been working with Rev. Gretchen Haley and a board appointed advisory team made up of one board member and 3 congregation-at-large members to interview and submit a candidate to the board for our new assistant minister position. The Board is happy to share that Foothills UU has received a number of excellent applicants, making this an exciting process, and we will hire this one-year, renewable contract position soon. The new assistant minister will start their position August 1st, just a month after Rev. Haley begins officially as senior minister.

I am happy to share that our Stewardship campaign that started two weeks ago is going very well! Thank you to all of you who have pledged thus far! Thank you for your generosity and commitment to the good work being done by this amazing community. I am very excited for what is ahead! For those who haven’t pledged yet, I ask that you please turn in your pledge cards as soon as you can. I must thank Kay Williams and her dedicated team who kicked off the campaign in church these past two Sundays with great success and some chaotic fun!

The other big areas the board will be focused on the remainder of this church year will be continuing our communication efforts with you all, as well as focusing on strengthening our leadership development for new leaders here at Foothills. Our next Informational Forum given by the Board and Howell will be held on April 10th after the 11am service. This will be the last time we are having this type of informational meeting before our annual congregational meeting on June 5th. At the informational forum we will continue to share the work the board is up to, how we are doing after the stewardship campaign, and it will be another opportunity for us to listen to you.

As we continue to grow, so does the skills and needs of our church leaders. This has been recognized for a while by many church leaders, and this church year we have made a great effort at better preparing these generous volunteers. This year we have begun delivering quality leadership development workshops to those who have shown an interest in becoming a leader, are currently leading, and are on our nominating committee. We will be having our next leadership development opportunities on Wednesday, March 30th and Wednesday April 6th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. If you are interested in attending please speak to one of our ministers.

I want to end this blog by simply saying I have the honor to serve you in the company of an incredible Board of Trustees. This is a team of wonderfully dedicated volunteers who are generous, thoughtful, funny, and visionary. We are committed to representing all of you. We look forward to helping prepare next year’s “dream team” Board…and we thank each of you who make Foothills UU the special congregation it is.

Plans for the Ministerial Transition

Over the past few weeks, I have been working and planning with many of you, with the staff team, and with Howell. I have sought counsel from colleagues, and I have talked with UUA staff that I trust, most especially the Rev. Nancy Bowen.  Through these conversations, Howell and I have started to formulate plans and priorities that will move us through the next six months – the remaining time of the official interim.

During this time, Howell will remain as the Interim Lead Minister, and we will work in a close partnership to ensure a smooth transition before the end of his contract in June and my official beginning as Senior Minister in July.  Generally speaking, Howell will be leading and working on those efforts that relate to the intended work of the interim, and I will be leading and working on those things that establish the foundation for the future.  More specifically, here is a breakdown of our priorities and plans for the next six months. As always, we welcome your input, questions, ideas and partnership.  And, we’ll be sure to bring you regular updates here and in upcoming forums on Sundays (next forum: 1/10/16).

  1. Worship Leadership and Planning – Howell and I will work closely in worship over the next six months, hopefully offering a number of Sundays with both of us present!  We have created a calendar that has Howell and I each in the pulpit on average, twice a month, and Diana McLean, our Ministerial Resident will be returning once a month once she’s fully recovered from her injury.
  2. Pastoral Care and Support – I will continue to act as lead for pastoral care, including supporting our Parish Visitors and Caring Team.
  3. Mission Task Force – Mission is the reason we are here, why we exist, as a congregation, and helps us move forward with confidence together. This is why the Board has created a sub-committee to engage the congregation around our mission in the coming months.  It will build on and reinforce the work done a couple of years ago on our mission statement, as well as our Appreciative Inquiry and Ministerial Search Discovery Sessions and Survey.  Look for notice about conversation opportunities in upcoming Extras.   Howell and I will both be support for this important Board work.  
  4. Governance Task Force – As was discussed in the October Congregational Forum, the Board is appointing a Task Force that will oversee and coordinate our governance transitional process.  Generally, we will follow the timeline and concept outlined in Dan Hotchkiss’ book, Governance and Ministry that many of you read and discussed over the summer.  (Still available for check out in the office!).  Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind
  5. Personnel / Human Resources Task Force – We value our employees and being a just and good employer.  Which means, we need to be thoughtful and intentional in creating an effective structure that includes both professional and volunteer partnership in order to effectively and legally address all the many areas of personnel – from policies to organizational structure to compensation to benefit management and liability to work environment and professional development.  As a result, the Board will be appointing a task force to work with me to review current and potential new policies, to recommend an appropriate structure to address personnel issues (in collaboration with the Governance Task Force) and to address fair compensation for our employees.  This will result in an updated job description for our Personnel Committee, which we will re-institute at the conclusion of this Task Force’s work.  Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley 
  6. Committee on Shared Ministries – Previously known as the Committee on Ministry, this important team was put into recess during the transition, but as we move out of this transitional time, Howell and I look forward to its full re-instatement.  Howell will work with the Board to clarify its purpose, share that with the congregation, and gather up both past Committee on Ministry members as well as new appointees as we begin again with this group whose mission remains to ensure the health and vitality of our shared congregational ministries and the right relations of our community.  Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind 
  7. Stewardship and Finance – Critical to an effective transition is successful management of our financial resources, including a successful pledge drive.  I will start attending Finance meetings this month, and be a part of the Stewardship campaign and budgeting process that will begin in February.  As I said throughout Candidating Week, I am very much looking forward to this part of the senior minister role, as I find that when we speak openly and non-judgmentally about money and its role in our lives, it can be as healing as any other ministry we might engage.  I also find it so inspiring to experience people’s generosity in service of our shared vision – and this congregation is so generous, this is simply really fun work.   Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind 
  8. Search for the new Assistant Minister – I had a great conversation with the UUA Transitions Office last week, and as a result, we have now listed our opening for an Assistant Minister to begin next July or August with the UUA.  This is just a simple notice of a job opening. In the coming months, the Board and I will convene a few forums to hear about your ideas and questions about this position and your hopes for who might fill it. The Board will also be appointing a selection committee who will work with me to identify the right fit.  It will be a hired and contract position, for 2 years.  This will allow us the time and space necessary to think through what we want in the long run and to make sure we have the right person for the position.  Lots more information to come on this! Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley 
  9. Nominating and Leadership Development Process – Given all the ways our congregation has changed and the changing needs for leadership today, we know we need a more robust process to identify, train and continually develop leaders in our congregation.  As a result, Howell will be working with the Nominating Committee to clarify job descriptions and a process for identifying and developing congregational leaders.  Howell brings a wealth of experience in facilitating this process in many other congregations, and so we are lucky to have him with us as we address this very important need in our congregation.  Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind 
  10. Faith Foundations – I learned a lot over Candidating Week about the learning and reflecting opportunities we need to set a foundation for the coming years together.  I realized we need to be talking more about generational changes, the cultural shifts happening in society, the history of Unitarianism and Universalism – especially three of our sources – Protestant/Heretical Christianity, Transcendentalism, and Humanism – as well as trends in today’s Unitarian Universalism, the ideas and practice of covenant, and emotional/family systems. As a result, we intend to focus most of our offerings in Religious Exploration in the next 5 months in these areas.  We’ll offer opportunities in a variety of ways – classes, small groups, online options, spiritual practices, book groups, and forums – and in a variety of days/times, with a variety of commitment-level options, and targeted to all the life stages and ages present in our congregation.  Our hope and goal is that by the end of May, a good number of you will feel more confident and clear in these important areas of our faith so that we can set a stronger foundation for what we are up to, and why, as a religious community and as individual Unitarian Universalists.  Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley
  11. A few other important things: Howell will be initiating our new Hospitality Learning Community, helping us to enhance our welcome, especially on Sunday mornings.  I will be working with the Climate Justice Team, especially in March and April as we continue to strengthen our congregational engagement with sustainability and care for the earth.  We will also continue and strengthen our partnerships in addressing homelessness, economic justice and immigration and racial justice related issues – especially in the ways all these things are connected.  Our campus ministry is growing, we are offering targeted programming to meet all of life’s stages and ages in our community – from new parents to empty-nesters to elders, and we continue to experiment in partnership with the UU Church of Greeley to bring our values and faith to more of our northern Colorado community.

Phew! That’s a lot! Good thing it all sounds like fun and enlivening work! And good thing it is work done in partnership, with all of you.

Questions? Things I left off you are wondering about? Let me know.  As I said, this is an evolving understanding of what is needed and what will work best to facilitate a healthy and smooth transition in the next few months. I’m so looking forward to all that this second half of this church year will bring, and the foundation it will set for the many years ahead.  Thank you for all you have done, and all you will do to help bring all this goodness into our community and our world.

In partnership,

Gretchen

The Fabulous First Start-up Festival!

11990642_10207688678521946_3182699664064836605_nThanks to all who made our Water Communion and 1st Start-Up Festival such a fabulous time.   Church member Lynn Young wrote to the staff on Monday to let us know about her experience -her note is representative of many enthusiastic comments we got, so we want to share it here with all of you.

To the wonderful Sunday breakfast planning team:

Thank you for such a great experience!!  After such a long tradition of our “back-to-church-breakfast gatherings” in a park setting, I really wondered how it would work changing to our church setting.  But, you all made it happen, and with such ease and organization.  From starting with the meaningful water sharing ceremony and the vibrant singing and music, through a well-planned, breakfast offering from members to the final dunking of Board of Trustees, Carolyn and Eleanor in the dunk tank, it seemed everyone had a special time.  Having tables on the lawn, all under a covering made it possible for us to spread out, relax and enjoy the companionship of all our church friends.  My sincere thanks to all who had a hand in planning and helping with this event.  I am so thankful to be a part of this U-U community and family.   – Lynn Young

Thank you Lynn, and thanks everyone, for showing up and for making this event such a success.  It was great to see everyone at our church having such a good time, and connecting, and seeing us talk together about all the amazing stuff that we do at the church – and in a fun way.

With a core team of over 30 volunteers, the campus was filled with activities and engagement for all ages.  If you missed it, we hope to catch you next year with a new slate of engaging booths filled with information about our ministries and ways to connect across all ages and stages of life.

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Water Communion service began at 9 with Eleanor VanDeusen and Jason Latta lighting the chalice.

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The brief service led by Revs. Howell Lind and Gretchen Haley was filled with story and song

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What’s a festival without a bouncy house?

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Board President Jenn Powell with son Owen anticipating the start-up of the DUNKING!

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David Edwards points the way (?) to the bike parking. Many thanks to the Climate Justice team for helping to make this a bike-friendly event.

Inspired by the "hobbit" maps, we wanted to make sure everyone knew about all the great stuff spread out all over the campus.

Inspired by the “hobbit” maps, we wanted to make sure everyone knew about all the great stuff spread out all over the campus.

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The booths filling the east path way made up our “welcome walkway”

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The Climate Justice team also made sure we were a reduced impact event – thanks to Cami and Spencer for setting up our recycling and compostable containers.

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Shanna Henk and Kristina Ruff show off the awesome new Foothills t-shirts with a logo designed by church member Steve Sedam and inspired by our mission to further the reach of love in our lives, in Northern Colorado, and beyond. Shanna and Kristina were also handing out the new Lifespan RE catalogues – packed with programming for the year.

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Anne Haro Sipes and Jane Everham staffed our ESL and One Village One Family tables along the Justice Journey, and church member Jeanne Kennedy was one of many who stopped to check out all the information.

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Elizabeth Stanley staffs the Middle East Peace table along the Justice Journey.

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LUUAuction! How clever Kay Williams and Peg MacMorris of our Auction Team!

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Church member Bob Viscount pulled out all the stops for the Partner Church booth!

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Church member Kay Hood was raffling a teddy bear on behalf of our Caring team.

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David Levinson staffs the Climate Justice table along the Justice Journey and helps people log their carbon credits.

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Carolyn Myers helps promote the Scrips and Grocery cards.

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Karen Harder and Jack Zak engage Andy Vancil to “Guess the number of Jelly Beans in the Chalice” – while noting all about Membership By The Numbers at the Membership booth….

And look at all those numbers!

And look at all those numbers!

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Church members – especially the under 18 set – were enthusiastic about sharing a vision for the church, which earned you a chance to try to dunk a board member at the Dunk Tank. Great visions from all ages!!

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President Emeritus Rich Young was very game for the dunking!

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Board members Erin Hottenstein and Jenn Powell show off some more visions.

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11949322_952280351495349_7723755905699114577_n   Dave Montanari solicited donations to encourage administrator Carolyn Myers to take the plunge – she caved, and down she went….Church member Loren Jones threw the “winning” ball.

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With all the kids around, it was inevitable someone would also encourage Director of Religious Exploration Eleanor Van Deusen to get dunked….and down she went!

Many thanks to Lyndy Latta, Jen Iole, and Lenny Scovel for the great photos! Looking forward to seeing those from official event photographer Elijah Price!

Connecting at Buckhorn Retreat and Beyond – Guest post from church member Dee Wanger

Wanger, Mark and DeeTwenty years ago, our family experienced a “spiritual perspective-changing health crisis” that nudged us to look for a spiritual community that would take us from our current awakening to a more spiritual future. With Mark raised in the Jewish tradition, and myself raised in the Presbyterian tradition, we weren’t sure what we were looking for, but began our search by attending a service at Foothills.

The sermon that day had been written especially for me, or at least it seemed. I was able to deeply listen and apply the ideas to my current crisis. It was magical.  We and our daughters saw friends we knew from other walks in our lives.

It was as though we had walked through a think vine overgrowth into a secret garden. Yet, we soon learned that there was no secret here!

A very public Medieval Festival was offered to the community, there were several active human rights advocacy groups, and church representatives were involved with interdenominational organizations in the community. We wanted to be part of the fun and sharing!

We continued to hear that Buckhorn was one of the best ways to meet people and have a meaningful spiritual experience together. We signed up and did, indeed, have a bonding experience with conversation over meals, shared laughter and singing during evening programs, thoughtful discussion about books and articles, playing board, card and outside games, a nature walk led by a knowledgeable church member, and star gazing with powerful telescopes. There was something so organic about being in nature, playing, and talking that helped us appreciate the breadth and depth of the people in the Foothills community.

What we witnessed at Buckhorn, and have appreciated in our continued involvement with Foothills, is the talent, wisdom, humor, and commitment of the people. Just as programming at Buckhorn was organized and presented by congregants, so is much of the leadership and programming present and successful because of the contribution of congregants.

We found that we had much to gain, as well as much to offer. We have grown through our “receiving” activities with groups for women, men, mothers, crafting, reading, hiking, discussion, parenting, travel, and films, but also in our “giving” activities as ushers, coffee-makers, religious education teachers, youth group advisers, sound booth tech, OWL teacher, choir member, carpet cleaner, landscape crew, rummage sale helper (and shopper!), service auction event hosts, Madrigal Dinner servers, Faith Family Hospitality supporters, summer Sunday service coordinator, chalice lighters, and more.

Though we look back in wonder at the serendipity of that first visit, we’ve never looked back at our decision to join. In fact, it is what kept us going then. The messaging at Sunday services is inspiring, grounding and thought provoking, but it’s the connection to the people that keeps us coming now.

Through my work on the nominating committee, I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of untapped wisdom, inspiration and talent that hasn’t found its place on the leadership path at Foothills.  If you are one who hasn’t yet found your place to give and receive, I want to encourage you to try Buckhorn this year – perhaps like it was for us, it may just be the beginning of a lifelong journey of connection and community.