I’m wrapping up four days at the UUA General Assembly in Columbus Ohio, along with Michael Molk, Susan Christie and Blaise Ntakarutimana. The General Assembly is the annual gathering of American UUs – thousands of us gathered in one place. This year the programing and worship have focused on the great need for us to work together more, around issues of climate change, racism, and violence, to name only a few. That has been so clear for me in the past year – even in the Fellowship, we must continue to keep inviting each other into joined-up thinking and joined-up doing.
We have opportunities to do this every day, and, in the year ahead, more opportunities are coming. The feasibility study report to the Board of Trustees from consultant Jeff Susor shows very strong support among us for moving forward to update and upgrade our buildings for the very real future we are living into. (See the report from President Carl English- Young, following.) It also shows a great need for us to focus our shared vision, to decide what things are our highest priorities. We can do this. We’ll need to try some new ways to arrive at shared understanding and shared vision – but there are new ways to try! I’m very excited by the possibilities. Perhaps this summer we can all at least think about letting go of one or two assumptions about what our shared vision will end up being, and start to get excited about discovering possibilities we haven’t even imagined. This is what the world needs from all of us now.
This summer I invite you once again into a couple of “open discussions” – which are simply gatherings for free-flowing conversation, on some of the topics which are current our congregational life. I’ll probably start with the changing organizational structure – including our new staff positions, plus our needs for renewed governance structures – how we make decisions in a congregation this size. I’m always open to questions about ministry and religious growth and learning and how we are living out our values. Sundays, July 31 and August 14 are the dates I’m available for these discussions. I hope you’ll join me. And if not then, I’m always open to one-to-one meetings, and there are still many of you I want to get to know better. Please, let’s get together. Just send me an e-mail and we can schedule a time (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This month I’m working on building bigger local interfaith coalitions around climate work and homelessness. I’m making plans for the year ahead – doing research for sermons and classes. I’m looking forward to helping Jamie Petts get started and to finding a new RE associate. From July 9-16 I’ll be in Montana with my whole family as we share in the wedding of our oldest son, Ian. Directly after the wedding I’ll travel to the Netherlands for the meeting of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists. I’ll be home on July 26. While I’m gone, pastoral care response and coordination is handled by Diana Vezmar-Bailey, Sunday Services leadership is coordinated by Niya Standish, and new Board president Carl English-Young plus the other members of the staff will respond to other needs. Both Diana and Carl can always reach me in an emergency.
I hope you are taking some time this month to rest from usual routines, and to examine the way things truly are, within you and around you. I hope you’ll consider getting to know at least one other person from the Fellowship a little better. I hope some clarity will arrive, around something you’re working on or wondering about.
See you soon! Jill
Capital Campaign Feasibility Study Conclusion: It’s Feasible!
by Carl English-Young
The great majority of us recognize a need for enhancing our building and are willing to financially support improvements. That’s the conclusion of our capital campaign consultant, Jeff Susor, who reported his findings to the Board of Trustees at their June 13 meeting. Jeff received information from 191 members or member households—through interviews with 53 individuals, 73 online surveys, and 65 written surveys. (A remarkable level of participation – thank-you all!)
To get a full picture of our Fellowship—not just a financial one—Jeff asked a broad range of questions. He found great support for our mission and a strong desire for community and for action in the world. Improvements to the building, particularly the social hall and kitchen, can help us better support our achievement of those goals. Regarding key factors for successful completion of a building enhancement project, we feel comfortable with the financial status of the Fellowship overall and express trust in the decisions of our leaders.
The potential financial support actually exceeded our expectations, with over 85 percent of respondents indicating a willingness to contribute to a building project and over $1 million in potential gifts offered by those who participated. Both the breadth and level of support are beyond what a typical congregation might expect for a project like this.
With this information available, the Board of Trustees will discuss authorizing a capital campaign at their July 18 meeting, which, as always, is open to all members. Jeff’s written report is expected at the end of June, and a copy will be available in the Fellowship office.