Eagerly Enthusiastic, Passionately Provoked

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About 50 of us from Foothills toured the new Mormon Temple last Tuesday.  Here’s Eleanor Van Deusen, Sean Neil-Barron and Gretchen Haley in the photo op they offer at the end of the tour.  

I’ve come to the realization that I’ve officially over-used the word, “excited.”

How do I  feel to finally be starting my new senior ministry? Excited.  How am I feeling about Sean’s new ministry? Excited. How am I feeling about the church – all that’s going on, and all we’ve got planned? I’m so excited.

Time to consult the minister’s BFF, thesaurus.com.  And now, I am happy to share with you that….

I am delighted with the great summer we have had.  Our worship attendance has been regularly record-breaking for summer – if you were at Water Communion, you got a taste of what I mean – many summer Sundays had more than 250 adults and children for a single service, and we have welcomed at least 80 newcomers over the course of the past 3 months.  Wow!  (To all of you who may be reading this: Welcome!)

What’s more, I’m passionate about the services we’ve been able to offer each Sunday this summer, especially with the steady partnership from Lehne Leverette who coordinated music for five Sundays while our music director, Ryan Marvel was away.  And because of our increased hours for Ryan in this year’s budget, I was thrilled to have him return from his time away four Sundays earlier than usual.

I’ve also been extremely animated about the Faith Cafe and Community Office Hours, as it’s allowed me and other staff members to meet and connect with you in smaller groups, and go deeper more quickly.  We’ll definitely be continuing these (with some tweaks) as we head into the fall.

Speaking of the fall, I’m fired up at all we’ll be offering to grow in spirit, connect in community and serve in partnership this fall.  Check out our “Next Big Thing” section for more details, but let me summarize by saying – we have been thinking carefully about what our community needs – across all our ages and stages – in light of the November election, considering the particular challenges of the various stages of life, and in service to our Unitarian Universalist good news and commitment to lifelong learning.  We have created a robust offering of small groups, classes, spiritual practices and other ways to- as our new mission statement puts it – embrace diversity, grow our faith, and awaken our spirits to the unfolding meaning of this life.

I hope it piques your interest to learn that our theme for the whole year will be “Learning to Lovingly Disagree.” This is in addition to the monthly themes we’ll continue as a part of the Soul Matters Sharing Circle.  This fall we’ll be delving into covenant, healing, story, and presence in worship, and across all of our lifespan religious education.  Sean, Ryan, Eleanor and I are weaving together a series of Sundays to address the breadth and depth of human experiences, and that will continue to strengthen our sense of belonging and connection with something greater than we are.  Don’t forget the return of the vespers services on September 22nd at 6 pm!

I am especially enthusiastic about the many ways to serve our greater community – we’ll continue our partnership with Faith Family Hospitality, start a few new villages for One Village One Family, and we’ll partner with the Food Bank on a pilot program for mobile food distribution 2 Sundays a month starting in October (did you see the article in the Coloradoan this Sunday? see if you can find our mention tucked in there).  This last one I am particularly on fire about because it is an opportunity for families to serve together – we’ll welcome kids 10 and up (willing to actively help)!

And, I am charged up at the energy I am feeling from many of you who are seeking to serve within our congregation in new ways, and hopeful that I can work with Sean and the Nominating Committee to create better and fuller pathways to help more of you more easily find your place where service becomes joy.

Through all of this programming, I can’t forget to mention the event I am most eagerly anticipating – my installation service as senior minister, on October 2nd at 4 pm.  I am beside myself thinking about the choral piece we have commissioned Ryan to compose for the occasion, the charge we might hear from Rev. Justin Schroeder for this congregation where he grew up, the story featuring choreography from Eleanor Van Deusen, and the powerful experience it will be to all be together in a single service (as we’ll be holding it at First UMC on Elizabeth and Stover).  Look for your invites to arrive this week!

I hope you’ll join me in eager enthusiasm, passionate provocation, and all around fired-up-ness.  There’s so much good going on, and most of all, it all becomes good because you are there.  You are what makes it good.  I am so grateful.

In partnership,

Gretchen

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Our Coordinated Caring Team

When someone connected to our congregation has a concern, life transition, or something going on in their life, our hope is that we can connect with them in the spirit of our covenant, bringing a sense of a larger presence to those moments in life when it is so important not to feel alone.  Sometimes that “presence” is simply a phone call or a visit, sometimes it is a card from your friends at church; other times it is a ride to church, or a whole series of home cooked meals during a difficult time; and sometimes it is a combination of all of these things.

Over the past few years, our caring team has been expanding and developing to meet all the various needs for presence in our congregations, responding to the growing and changing size and needs of our community.   Here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers about our caring team.  Please let us know if you have a question about something not listed here!

In partnership, Jacqui Wallace, Kay Hood, Bonnie Inscho, Cam Elvheim, and Rev. Gretchen Haley – lead team members for Caring at Foothills 

How do you tell us about a concern, life transition, illness, injury, or something else going on, including a joy? 

  • We ask you to either call the church office at 493-5906 or email caring@foothillsuu.org, or complete the online form here: foothillsuu.org/joys-and-concerns/.
  • You might also go ahead and share about it in the Sunday Joys and Sorrows book, now placed for your privacy in the sanctuary by the sound booth window.
  • All of these will get routed to the On-Call Caring Team Member.

Who should tell us about someone’s concern? 

  • If you know about something going on in someone’s life and have a general sense that it is something the person would be fine with their church’s caring team knowing about, you are welcome to send a note or call us on their behalf, especially when they are not able.
  • Of course, we always welcome and encourage you to share about yourself, for yourself, as well!

Who receives the information when I share it with the church?

  • The information is always routed to our On-Call Caring Team Member who will reach out directly to the person experiencing the concern, expressing our congregation’s caring presence, as well as assessing other needs.
  • It is also always shared with Rev. Haley, and recorded onto our Caring Log so we can be sure to follow up and check in with you.

Who fills the On-Call Team Member role? How does that work? 

  • Our Parish Visitors team rotate in filling the On-Call role – every two weeks.  When it is their turn, they receive the notices of caring concerns, and reach out to the individual directly.  They also see if the individual could use meals, or rides, or a contact from a minister, and generally offer the caring presence on behalf of our congregation.
  • If the individual does need rides, meals, or other support, the On-Call person makes a referral to the lead for the particular area.

What is a Parish Visitor? 

  • A Parish Visitor is a church member who – after applying, interviewing, receiving a background check and proper training – visits with a church member who is either unable to get to church due to injury or illness, or who appreciates a little extra conversation and listening during a time of need from a fellow church member.
  • These Visitors work directly with Rev. Haley, meeting with her at least every-other-month for check-ins and direction.  They also keep Rev. Haley apprised of all of their visits, and work with her directly whenever particular issues may arise.
  • The Parish Visitor program started about 2 years ago, near the end of Rev. Salkin’s time with the congregation, and is a way to ensure that we are better able to reach out and walk with more of our large community.  It is also one of the best ways we express our covenant and our commitment to a shared ministry.
  • Our ministerial team is still always available for appointments for pastoral support.  Reach out to them directly to make an appointment to meet.

Who are the leads for the caring roles?

  • Kay Hood fills the lead role for our Parish Visitors, so when a new Visitor assignment is needed, she works with Rev. Haley to make that assignment.
  • Currently we are in need of a new lead for our meals team, although Jacqui Wallace has been filling in until we are able to fill this role.  This is an important yet not-too-time-consuming role of reaching out to a person in need, to their primary circle of community in the church, and to our regular volunteers who bring meals to those who need a meal, and sets up a meal coordination website for all of these folks to bring meals in a way that meets the needs of the individuals.
  • Currently we rely on an informal network to support our rides, as we recognize that we aren’t able to offer too many rides too often.  We do our best when we are able, and otherwise we help an individual to connect with other supports.
  • Kay Hood and Jacqui Wallace both help ensure that there is support for receptions for Memorial Services.

Is this the same as the “Caring Committee?” How is it different? 

  • While all the elements of the Caring Committee still exist, we have decided not to meet as a whole Committee on a regular basis – because we found that with the Parish Visitor program and our On-Call system, it was redundant.  Instead, people can just jump in and provide the support – no meeting required!
  • So if you know someone needs meals, instead of contacting a “committee,” just use our caring@foothillsuu.org email, or contact the office, and we will coordinate directly with the Meal team.

How can I sign up to help with meals when they are needed? 

How can I sign up to be a lead for either rides or meals? 

How can I sign up or learn more about the Parish Visitor role? 

What if I have other questions about the Caring Team or other elements of Foothills Pastoral Care support? 

Our Holiday Greeting to All of You – From the Caring and Parish Visitors Teams

Submitted by Bonnie Inscho (Parish Visitor Team)

Sometimes the most meaningful gift we can give is the gift our presence, rather than presents. This is what we, on the Caring and Parish Visitor Teams, hope to do all year at Foothills Unitarian Church. The holiday season seems a good time to remind you of our presence and what our role is here at Foothills.

The Caring Team responds to the Joys and Concerns shared on Sunday, as well as other requests made throughout the week, by checking in by phone, sending cards of concern, coordinating rides to church, and arranging for meals to be taken to homes. Additionally, they coordinate the receptions for church members’ memorial services.  They also provide the Christmas Stars for one of Foothills’ holiday traditions.

Christmas Stars are now available in the social hall on the Caring Team table. Look for them on Sunday mornings before Christmas and decorate our sanctuary tree in honor and remembrance of your loved ones.  We will be hanging Stars as a part of our vespers service on December 21st at 6 pm, and also you are welcome to hang your star at any time throughout the month of December.  

The Parish Visitor Team works in collaboration with and under the guidance of the Ministerial Team. Their hope is to create a more caring community while making personal connections with members and friends of Foothills, many of whom find it difficult to attend church regularly. They provide a listening ear, a caring heart, and extend the reach of our congregation into our community.  The Parish Visitors are not a replacement for our professional ministers – Reverends Howell Lind and Gretchen Haley, and Ministerial Resident Diana McLean – who provide many pastoral visits to our congregants during times of illness, loss, and transition – but rather a supplement to help us care for and with one another across our whole congregation.

We are seeking more volunteers for both the Caring and Parish Visitor Teams. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.

Caring Team: Jacqui Wallace jacquiwallace2@gmail.com 215-8952

Parish Visitor Program: Kay Hood hoodkay@aol.com 988-8757

Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley, gretchen@foothillsuu.org 493-5906

If you or someone you know may benefit from our services, please contact caring@foothhillsuu.org or call the office 970-493-5906.

Great News from our Stewardship Team

After many years of charging a fee for our Religious Education program, in consultation with ministers and staff last summer, the Board of Trustees decided to eliminate the RE fee. The idea is that we are all in this together, we all contribute in many ways to fulfilling the mission of our church, and a fee-for-service approach is counter to this. This bold step meant that initially we let go of the $10,000 generated by the fees for children and youth programs; yet the resiliency and commitment of our church community is truly amazing. The wonderful news is that our members with children and youth in the RE program actually INCREASED their pledges this year by $15,000, for a net positive effect of $5,000. Thank you!

This is another example that, like the amazing growth in the Share the Plate program, people respond in generous ways when inspired by opportunities to help. Our church members and friends also recognize the value to our children, congregation and wider community of a solid RE program that helps our children, youth and adults explore questions of ethics, spirituality and social action that exemplify our mission: “to further the reach of love in our own lives, in Northern Colorado and beyond.”

More Great News! Besides increasing the church’s funds through this thoughtful decision, our members and friends have increased their contributions dramatically over the last five years: total pledges in 2010 were $388,477. This year, pledges are $567,480! 

Your generosity over these years is reflected in our capacity to better serve our members and our wider community.  It has meant – for example – the addition of a second minister, the year-round employment of our Director of Religious Exploration, the growth of our incredible music program, significant progress in moving towards fairly paying our staff, the availability of childcare at all events and programs, significant new justice ministries like Faith Family Hospitality and ESL Tutoring, enhanced excellence in worship and a greater capacity to meet the ever-growing administrative and technological needs required to support ministry today…and much more.  We have made so much progress in moving from a culture of scarcity to a culture of abundance – a culture where we ask how big our vision can be and live into that big vision.

New to your Stewardship Team’s responsibilities this year is overseeing all fundraising in the church, to ensure that fundraisers and events not only do not conflict with each other, but complement one another.

Your Stewardship Team will further the wonderful work that has been done over the last five years. During this time of transition in our church, we will continue to nurture the culture of abundance at Foothills that has been created and grown with care. We look forward to helping guide our church into the future.

Thank you for your commitment and generosity to our church –

Kay Williams, incoming chair of the Stewardship Team, Karen Johnese, Peg MacMorris, Jim Lathrop, Lynn Young, Nels Broste, Scott Denning, and Rev. Howell Lind

Freeing Forgiveness – Exploring October’s Theme

forgive-everyone-everything“What does it mean to be a people of Forgiveness?”

As a child, growing up Catholic, my sense was that we should give away forgiveness like candy at Halloween: freely and readily, to anyone who comes asking.  As an adult Unitarian Universalist, however, I have realized that forgiveness is a lot more complicated and challenging than that image would imply.

What should we ask of those who have hurt us before we offer forgiveness – if anything? Must someone seek your forgiveness in order for you to forgive them? What if they can’t or won’t? What about self-forgiveness? Is there a point where something or someone is beyond forgiveness? What about forgiveness of a group, community, or institution? …Or life itself?

Forgiveness is connected to memory and time.  It asks us to engage our feelings about something in the past in order to change our experience in the present, and move into the future.  Forgiveness is an act of vulnerability – both from the one seeking forgiveness and the one offering it – as it reveals the risks of trying to love in an imperfect world.

In September, we have been asking “What does it mean to be a people of Invitation?” Inviting requires we make space in our lives and in our hearts – create a clearing, open our hands, and let life move freely in, and out – as it is all a gift.  And living with open hands and an open heart requires we become a people of forgiveness.

Since forgiveness is not as simple as candy on Halloween, we will offer many opportunities this month for reflection, practice and exploration of October’s monthly theme, forgiveness. This Sunday, October 4th, we will begin with a multi-sensory worship experience exploring forgiveness.  After service, we will offer a workshop on the theme from 12:30-1:30.  I will be leading Forgiveness Practice Circles on Tuesdays in October at 6 pm – come to one or all of these to literally practice forgiving – whatever or whomever needs forgiveness in your life.  Our popular evening vespers (contemplative) services return October 15th at 6 pm where we will be exploring forgiveness through song, meditation and ritual.  And finally, I want to encourage you to join our new small group that will delve deeper into the Sunday sermons and the theme, which kicks off Sunday the 18th, although after this month will run every 2nd and 4th Sunday at 12:30. You can “drop in” to experience these sermon-based reflection circles, though our recommendation is you attend at least 6 throughout the year to strengthen the experience for everyone.

It will be a rich month, and I look forward to exploring all of this and more with you.  – Gretchen

Visitor from our Partner Church in Transylvania by Bob Viscount

Visitor from our Partner Church in Transylvania by Bob Viscount, Partner Church Committee Co-chair

Annamarie BodocziFoothills Unitarian Church has had a partner Unitarian church in Transylvania since 1990, starting right after the overthrow of the communist government of Nicolae Ceaușescu. From the beginning we have worked to support this small congregation in Bethlenszentmiklos as they struggle to maintain their church and culture in the face of the Romanian government’s support of the Serbian Orthodox church as the “official” religion of the country.

Annamaria Bodoczi, a member of our partner church’s congregation, will be with us from September 23 to October 6th. She will help us celebrate this 25 year relationship. She will be the chalice lighter on September 27th, and she will attend the service on October 4th. Stop by the Partner Church Committee’s table in the Social Hall to talk with her.

Annamaria has a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Babes-Bolyai University in Koloszvar, and she works as the press attaché for the Hungarian Democratic Party’s members of the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest.

Since 2005 the major activity of the Partner Church Committee has been to raise money for the scholarship program so that the young people from the village can afford to attend a Unitarian high school in Kolozsvar or a Protestant high school in Aiud. If they had to attend a government high school, the only religious education classes would be about the Serbian Orthodox religion. Also there would be no classes taught in Hungarian.

In the 10 years of this program, we have raised nearly $30,000. But the need continues. There are usually about 15 young people and their families who are helped by this program each year.

The other activity of the Partner Church Committee is to organize trips to Transylvania through the UU Partner Church Council. We are planning another one for May of 2016. Stop by the table in the social hall to learn more.

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!