We still don’t do shame, and there’s still no them

This past Sunday, we had 180% more of you than usual, and it was what writer Glennon Doyle Melton calls “brutiful,” a combination of beautiful, and brutal. Beautiful to gather, beautiful to sing, to breathe, to laugh and cry and simply come together after a week where, as I said on Sunday, we experienced a “global plot twist.”  I could feel the force of love among us.  But also brutal, because what inspired so many to show up on Sunday was pain, grief, anger, fear, even despair.  It was one of the most powerful Sundays I’ve ever experienced, and I’d give nearly anything for it not to have been necessary.

As we move forward, I want to clarify and underscore two commitments of our faith and our congregation that I hope you’ll help me uphold.

First, we still don’t do shame in our church.  We don’t shame each other for who we voted for – no matter who that is, or for coming to different conclusions than we have about big and complex topics, or about how we will move through these complicated times (aka, life).

The emerging future is going to require a lot of learning.  And learning requires imperfection, humility, laughter, and grace.  We’re going to screw up a lot, and we’re going to state strong opinions that later we realize we were wrong about.  A few months ago I preached on what it feels like to be wrong, exploring some of the ideas in the TED Talk by Kathryn Schulz  What she says is that being wrong feels exactly the same as being right – only once we realize we are wrong does it feel differently.

We have to give each other and ourselves the space to be wrong, without shame.  In place of shame, let us ask more generous questions (the topic of our Wednesday night Civil Conversations gathering by the way!).  Instead of shame, try to listen for what’s hurting, what’s being wrestled with, what value is being expressed.

Growth and change require a level of safety – which is not the same as comfort.  We need to create safe spaces where we can be uncomfortable together.  This is the sweet spot of deep learning – real transformation, and courageous love.

Which brings me to the second commitment: there’s still no “them;”only us. Our world seeks to divide us, to harden the categories of who is worthy, who is good, who suffers the most, who is to blame, who is the enemy, and who is our kin.  Our religious lens asks us to not let the categories, or our hearts be hardened to any other, but to keep up the practices that grow more supple hearts, hearts of compassion that can hold ever more complexity and willingness to see ourselves in the other.  (This is the work of our upcoming Healing the Heart of Democracy series.)

This second commitment does not mean that we don’t have strong convictions. We are called to a practice of compassion with boundaries, covenant by way of self-differentiation.   As my message on Sunday proclaimed, our faith compels us in this moment to a greater justice, a braver and bolder living out of our principles, our living Unitarian Universalist tradition, and our mission.  Wherever hatred has been unleashed, we are called to unleash courageous love.  The great discipline before us is to discern what that love looks like, and what it asks of us.  And for that, we need each other and our religious community, more than ever.

Thank you for being present in the struggle, learning together, and unleashing courageous love for one another, and for our greater world.  I have never been more grateful for this community, and our promise and commitment that we are all in this together.

 

 

 

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We Unleash Courageous Love

Foothills Unitarian has a new Mission Statement!

A Special Congregational Meeting was held Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 10:15 AM. Following a brief discussion, wherein members voiced their opinions of the now-approved

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Mission Task Force Member Karen Harder speaks about the missions statement process as our chalice burns

statement using words such as “active,” “movement,” and “powerful,” Erin Hottenstein officially called to order a meeting that would prove to be one of the shortest in Foothills Unitarian history. Within a matter of two and a half minutes, a motion to limit talking time was approved and then a vote was called. Without further ado, and with a full house, the congregation overwhelming approved the new Mission Statement.

Foothills’ new mission statement reads:

Foothills Unitarian Church unleashes courageous love in Northern Colorado and beyond by embracing our diversity, growing our faith, and awakenimg_20161016_103012ing our spirits to the unfolding meaning of this life.

The process undertaken to draft this Mission Statement was 11 months of deep listening, strategic questioning, and lively discussion, followed by drafts and drafts and drafts – 150 to be exact – of ideas, words, and hopes. Each iteration of the statement brought the congregation closer to spelling out how this community wants to show up in this world today. As one member said, “It is not the ‘what’ of what to do, but it is the ‘how’ and the ‘why.’” Congratulations, Foothills! We have another very important piece that helps us move forward in courageous love together.

-Sara Edwards is a member of the Foothills Board

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

On a Mission: Finding Focus for 2016-17

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Rev. Gretchen Haley and Sean Neil-Barron at General Assembly in Columbus OH in late June, just before they walked in the Service of the Living Tradition to honor receiving (respectively) Ministerial Final Fellowship and Preliminary Fellowship with the UUA.

Last week I wrote on my blog about my search for a personal mission statement for the coming year, something that would ground and focus my ministry with you for the coming year.  There are so many worthy things that might pull on our time and attention – but what are the right things for this year, this time – for who we are now, and what we are called to become in our emerging future?

Inspired by the book, Simple Church, I have discerned a three-point mission statement for myself as I move fully into my senior ministry with you.  Here it is: Lead and call us towards our bigger mission and vision; support, develop, lead and work in partnership with our staff team; and recruit, support, develop, lead, and work in partnership with our lay leaders.  Here are a few notes on what I am thinking about with each of these areas of focus.

  1.  Lead and call us towards our bigger mission and vision. Over the past few years in conversation, worship, learning, and service, we have been discerning both implicitly and explicitly a new mission and vision for our shared ministry.  The explicit part of this work is most obvious in the work of our Mission Task Force, which has articulated a new mission statement – the first update in nearly 20 years! – for our congregation.   And yet, even more than this specific “mission statement” work,  this element of my ministry focus is about calling us towards our individual and collective sense of vocation, our larger purpose in the world as a Unitarian Universalist congregation in this time, and this place – to ask questions, invite conversation, and prioritize opportunities where we can, as an organization – keep discerning and remain connected to this greater purpose.  This focus shows up in the way I lead worship and oversee our worship calendar, as well as in how I partner with other leaders in establishing our ministry and programming calendar.  This area of focus is the foundation for the partnerships I am building with interfaith and non-profit leaders in our community, and it is the driving force for my work and witness for justice in our Northern Colorado community, as well as for my continued collaboration with other Unitarian Universalist congregations in our area, across Colorado, and beyond.
  2. Support, develop, lead and work in partnership with our staff team.  As a large congregation with a growing professional staff, it is increasingly true that successful ministries are led and supported through paid staff. Despite what you might anticipate, this increased role of staff does not take away lay partnership, but rather studies show that the more consistent the presence of a paid staff person, the more consistently you can recruit and retain volunteer partners.  We are incredibly lucky to have an amazing staff team at Foothills.  An incredible staff team deserves professional development, consistent supervision, clear lines of accountability, a supportive work environment, robust communication, and intentional leadership both for the staff members individually and for the staff team as a whole.  Especially as we bring on our new assistant minister, Sean Neil-Barron this month (just one more week!), this element of my ministry is one of the most critical ways that I can reach out to all 1200 adults, children and youth who consider themselves a part of our community.  This ministry priority led our staff team to develop a staff covenant in the past few months, and is the reason I am committed to re-convening a Personnel Committee to advise me and the Board as we establish new Personnel policies, Human Resources practices, and compensation standards.
  3. Recruit, support, develop, lead, and work in partnership with our lay leaders. As we’ve been blessed with incredible staff, we’ve also been amazingly blessed with so many dedicated, passionate, and healthy lay leaders.  It always amazes me how much depth of commitment, capacity and dedication there exists within our congregation.  And yet, I am aware that we are always at risk of turning to the same 30 or 40 people – even in a congregation our size – to do the work of the church.  Rather than leveraging our full power as a large community, this potential practice keeps us limited both in terms of who feels a sense of ownership in our mission and vision, and in terms of our impact in people’s lives and in our larger community.  We need to keep drawing the circle wider.  We need to ask who isn’t yet leading and serving in partnership, and then help them find their place.  But this recruitment is just the beginning, from there we need to support and develop our leaders, ensuring they have the training, skills and ongoing partnership so that they can feel like what they are doing matters and is making a difference – that it is playing a part in that big picture noted in item #1 above. This area of ministry will show up this year in my partnership with the Nominating Committee as we seek a new model that will better and more systematically identify, recruit and train leaders in our congregation.  Our hope is that we can create a path of service and leadership that is intentional, integrated with our faith formation, and forward-thinking.  And most of all this ministry focus will show up in my support of and partnership with the many lay leaders already doing the work of our church: Board members (and their task forces – Governance, Mission, and others), stewardship leaders, committee on shared ministry leaders, finance leaders, personnel committee members, nominating committee members, worship leaders, justice leaders, and through partnership with Sean’s ministry, parish visitors, caring team members, small group leaders, and membership ministry leaders.

Coming to this focus for my ministry for the coming year has been liberating and immensely clarifying.  It is not set in stone as I may discover throughout the year that something needs to be changed somewhat – but I have been sitting with it long enough now that I think it’s pretty close to just right.  It also doesn’t mean that I will only do these things – but rather that these things will take priority, and that in all of my ministry, I will be asking how and if it serves one or more of these three areas of focus.

Maybe you notice what isn’t listed here – things like faith formation, pastoral care, or small groups – that have been a big part of my ministry with you up until this point.  Not to worry, I remain as committed to these things as ever, and until Sean is fully up to speed over these next few months, they will remain in my sight and work.  And yet, my job over these next few months is to begin to hand over these things to Sean – to introduce him to the many of you who help make these ministries so meaningful and important, and then to support you all as you take up a new partnership in this work together.

As I take up this ministry, I wonder if you have your own version of a mission for the coming church year? What would you say is your ministry mission – those things that are just yours to do in your lives, in the world, and in our congregation as a result of your specific gifts, calling, and convictions of faith?  Play with some ideas- three is a good number – sit with them for a while, see how they feel.  Write them down for yourself, and when you’re ready, tell someone else in our congregation what you’re thinking.  Exchange ideas, and commitments. Help each other live up to your mission.  Let’s keep growing, and learning, together.

With love, and in partnership,
Gretchen 

 

 

Why does Foothills exist?

The Board of Trustees’ Mission Task Force asked for your input on our first attempt at an answer (APRIL 26 BLOG POST TITLED WHY DOES FOOTHILLS UNITARIAN CHURCH EXIST) and we heard you!

While many congregants responded favorably to our first draft, we heard constructive feedback that challenged us to:

  • Shorten the statement so it’s easier to remember and summarize.
  • Better represent our positive, welcoming church community.
  • Clarify the statement theologically.
  • Strengthen it to convey what we are called to do.

The task force has incorporated input from dialogue sessions with congregants as well as from the online survey.  Our revised version received preliminary approval from the Board July 19, and we are pleased to share it now with you:

Foothills Unitarian Church unleashes courageous love in Northern Colorado and beyond by embracing our diversity,
growing our faith, and awakening our spirits to the unfolding meaning of this life.

 We really like the new version because:

  • It is shorter, and the first phrase is especially easy to memorize while capturing the essence of why we exit. Plus, it builds on what was so compelling about our 2014 working statement: “Further the reach of love.”
  • It is a little edgy, challenging us to live into our considerable potential.
  • It articulates what might be considered the Unitarian Universalist “brand” for those who are unfamiliar with our faith. No other church invites members to discern for themselves the meaning of life.
  • It emphasizes this life, not some future reward.

We appreciate all the thoughtful feedback you provided to help us refine the statement.   We hope you are pleased with the results and that you will consider voting to approve it at a future congregational meeting.  But first, we want to hear more from you!

  • Email the task force with your feedback at mission@foothillsuu.org.
  • Come to a dialogue session with task force members at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, August 14, in the sanctuary.
  • Share your reflections with your Board of Trustees at the Start-Up Breakfast August 27.
  • Join Board members for a discussion at the Buckhorn Church Retreat Labor Day Weekend.

 

Here are more reasons why we selected a word or phrase.

Foothills Unitarian Church unleashes courageous love in Northern Colorado and beyond by embracing our diversity,
growing our faith, and awakening our spirits to the unfolding meaning of this life.

Foothills Unitarian Church Naming our church within our mission statement is important because we are a church and it differentiates our church from others.  It also defines who the actors are in this statement and lifts up the important concept of community.  We – collectively – are the church community and the church is us.
unleashes We are a community with potential that has yet to be fully realized. We intentionally chose this strong word because it describes the powerful force we can be in realizing the future we envision.  It also conveys our understanding that all the love we need already exists within, between, and beyond us, and our task is to make it real in the world.
courageous love Love is the spirit of this church and will continue to be. This is not just any love – courageous love describes the love that transforms and heals both personally and communally, the love that connects all of life.  Courageous love emboldens us to create the world of justice and wholeness, the vision of Beloved Community. Working together for justice and leading justice efforts are both reasons for being and our aspirations for how we are known.
In Northern Colorado and beyond We are the largest UU church in this growing area and we have articulated an aspiration to be a resource church.  We desire to be a force for change and a leader in our broader community and in the wider world.
by This word signals that which follows summarizes ways we as a church community make possible our potential for unleashing courageous love.
embracing We joyfully welcome all who welcome all.
our diversity, We draw wisdom from diverse sources.  We are diverse – or aspire to be more diverse – in our demographics.  We are strengthened by our diverse perspectives and, especially, as we transcend them.  Our practice of remaining in covenant despite our differences is a powerful tool in the work ahead.
growing Spiritual growth, faith formation, and growing ourselves, our children, and our youth as UUs are highly valued endeavors we support with quality programming.
our faith, This has two meanings: personal religious faith and our Unitarian Universalist faith tradition.  Our community supports those for whom a personal experience of faith is important and necessary.  We also are committed to growing Unitarian Universalism as we affirm our seven principles and all they entail.
and awakening our spirits This speaks to our fundamental reason for gathering together for worship and sharing our joys, sorrows and gratitude.  The word “awakened” also resonates with the cultural moment and the need to be awakened to injustice and to respond with our witness and courageous love.
to the unfolding meaning This is an important theological element that distinguishes our UU tradition.  In our covenantal rather than creedal faith, we are called to be active participants in discerning what is true.  Because revelation is not sealed, the meaning of life continues to unfold to us.  This also speaks to what brings many people to our church to begin with: we seek to make sense of our lives, and we find here a community that holds us and helps us as we search.
of this life. Unlike many other faith traditions, ours is focused on this life and not on the hereafter.  This underscores the relevance of what our church community offers here and now.

 

Mission Task Force Report

Mission. Business Concept.One of the Board’s major initiatives this year was to create a Mission Task Force charged with engaging with the congregation to discover and articulate our church’s purpose.  Prior to this work, the last mission statement had been officially adopted by the congregation in the late 1990’s.

  • We, the members of Foothills Unitarian Church, unite in a religious community to provide a loving, accepting and stimulating atmosphere for spiritual and personal growth. By living our Unitarian Universalist principles we seek to be a force for healing and a light of reason and understanding, promoting justice and compassion among ourselves and in the larger community.

Finding the 1990’s formulation too long to remember or apply to tough problems, the Board of Trustees had adopted a much shorter statement as a working draft in 2014:

Foothills Unitarian Church furthers the reach of love in our own lives, in Northern Colorado, and beyond.

This statement was admirably clear and succinct, which made it easier for the Board to use as a guide in its work.  But it had never gone through the important process of formal adoption by the congregation.  Given that mission statements should have the full and official approval of the congregation, and are often revised or replaced every 5-7 years, it was clear that the time was ripe for a fresh look at this central and defining statement of the church’s identity.

The group consisted of Rev. Gretchen Haley and a mixture of new and seasoned Board members: veteran Trustees Karen Harder and Larry Watson; Erin Hottenstein (President Elect); Michelle Venus (Secretary Elect), and Rich Young (Past President).

We began our work with a substantial head start.  First, we benefited from earlier efforts by a group including Tim Pearson, Keith Hupperts and Ken Kassenbrock, who had surveyed the congregation in 2013 about what gave Foothills such a special and valued place in our lives.  This group’s work was paused when Rev. Marc Salkin announced his retirement in the fall of that year: ministerial transition often prompts exploration of a church’s identity, and it felt premature at that point to conclude a rewrite of our mission statement just as we entered transition.  We also were able to apply insights gained the congregational survey conducted by Bob Green and the Ministerial Search Team during the search process, and from our own participation in the appreciative inquiry workshops and our conversations with congregants during our time on the Board.

From this healthy start, we conducted a series of forums in January of this year.  We presented the very long 1990’s mission statement and the Board’s very short 2014 working draft, and asked the question: was the 2014 draft adequate, and if not, what important concepts were missing from it?  Consensus seemed to be that it left out too much of what is important to us about who we are, and the task force gathered detailed input on what was missing.

Armed with all of this preparation, we began writing in February.  Many drafts were considered and rejected because they failed to capture cherished qualities we’d heard so much about from the congregation, or left out important aspects of our identity that would help newcomers understand who we are.  Others were so long that we knew that they’d never be remembered, much less usable for guidance in the work of the church as a good mission statement should be.

As we worked, it became apparent that it would be very challenging to say everything that needed to be said, so concisely that the statement remained memorable and useful.  We knew that every word would have to carry a great deal of meaning.  When Rev. Nancy Bowen held a leadership development workshop here in April, she drew a helpful distinction between what a church does, how the church does these things, and why the church does them; of these, she said, the “why” is the most central question.  Invigorated by this framing, we returned to our writing process and arrived at a draft that we feel captures the essence of all the input we’ve gathered:

Foothills Unitarian Church awakens our spirits, heals our divisions and grows our faith, empowering us as partners in the unfolding meaning of life and equipping us to create more love and justice in our lives and in the world.

At 39 words, this is substantially shorter than the 1990’s mission, but also substantially longer than the 2014 draft. Working with it, we found that any further cutting removed important concepts we’d really worked hard to include; adding anything further pushed the statement across a threshold of unwieldiness.  Present were key concepts like spiritual growth, community, intellectual stimulation, healing and sanctuary, and our commitment to social justice and service.   With the Board’s unanimous endorsement, we felt that we had arrived at a candidate statement that was ready for the congregation’s consideration.

Throughout the month of May, we held meetings to acquaint the you with our proposed mission statement.  Our purpose was to explain its nuances, help you grow comfortable with it, and collect feedback about whether you felt that this statement captures our church’s mission adequately.  We were under no illusions that it would be perfect – indeed, our spiritual diversity virtually guarantees that, for any given phrase, one congregant’s experience will resonate with it while another will find it troubling.  But we hoped that we would all find enough echo of our own reasons for attending Foothills that the candidate statement would be embraced and adopted at the Congregational Meeting.

What we’ve found at these meetings is that we are not quite ready to recommend that the congregation vote on whether to adopt this statement.  As I write this in late May, it’s unclear whether further refinement is necessary, or if the congregation simply needs more time to sit with the language and recognize in it what it is that we all come together for.  Or, most likely, a little of both.

It may seem disappointing to come up short so close to the end of all this important work.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my time on the Board, it’s that it’s not a good idea to rush these things.  The work of the Mission Task Force will continue into the coming church year.  It’s important that we achieve an articulation of this church’s mission, so that the statement can welcome and inspire new members, so that it can remind existing members of what the church means to them, so that it can guide future Boards and committees through difficult decisions, and not least, so that this community can grow from the experience of contemplating its purpose with this much care and depth.

 

Why does Foothills Unitarian Church exist?

The Board of Trustees’ Mission Task Force has been working toward an answer to this question for more than four months.  You are invited to three dialogue sessions on our work at 10:15-10:45 a.m. May 8, 15 and 22.  The May 8 and May 15 sessions will be in the RE building rooms 22 & 23.  The May 22 session will be in the sanctuary.

Our work began with review of our mission adopted in May 1997 which, at 57 words, was too long for any of us to remember.  We picked up the thread of work paused by the 2013 Board with the announcement of the Rev. Marc Salkin’s retirement.  Those earlier efforts informed the working statement the Board approved in September 2014. During the interim, the Board recognized we needed to recast the statement as an important step forward in the life of our church.  In doing so, the Mission Task Force followed these guidelines:

1.As a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the seven UU Principles we affirm and promote remain foundational to what we do.
2.Our church will continue to use the “great covenant” in services.
3.Our statement needs to be memorable, meaningful and moving (simple, not simplistic).
4.It needs to contain strong verbs/action words.
5.It must be readily understandable outside the UU faith and free of jargon.
6.It must reflect themes we hear from the congregation.
7.It must be a useful leadership tool that can serve as both compass and yardstick.

After reviewing our congregational survey and considering results of the appreciative inquiry process, we listened intently to input at four congregational dialogue sessions attended by more than 70 congregants.  We held many working sessions, exchanged even more emails and drafted  dozens of iterations.  After narrowing down our choice, we sought input from non-members and new visitors.  We received Board support this month for the draft we are pleased to put forward for your consideration:

Foothills Unitarian Church awakens our spirits, heals our divisions and grows our faith, empowering us as partners in the unfolding meaning of life and equipping us to create more love and justice in our lives and in the world.

As you reflect on this statement, you may find a word or phrase you did not expect to see.  Likewise, a word or phrase you expected to see may be missing.  Like our faith, we strove for a statement packed with meaning and inviting to interpretations.  In doing so, we hope you find in this draft one or more elements that speaks to you.  We want to hear about that.  If there are one or more elements you are wrestling with, we want to hear about that as well.  We invite you to share your reflections in person at one or more of the dialogue sessions or online .  You also may contact the Mission Task Force at mission@foothillsuu.org.

As you might expect, the Task Force found this work challenging to say the least.  One member likened it to packing a suitcase.  You might want to put in everything you can think of, but then it will be too heavy to carry.

Our statement will never be carved in stone.  But it does need to carry us forward five to eight years, which means this work should begin again in three to five years.  Imagine where we might be then!  The Task Force believes we packed carefully for our journey.  We hope you do too and look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Harder, Erin Hottenstein, Michelle Venus, Larry Watson, and Rich Young