News – February 24, 2023

Cover February 26, 2023

Dear Members and Friends,

Before beginning the report from the Board, I find I have a need to reflect for a moment on the loving embrace I, and I know others, have experienced from the Beloved Community that we call First UU Houston. When my father died unexpected and tragically when I was 11 years old, the news was delivered by a plain clothed police officer. I overheard him tell my mother of the death of my father. He and no one else spoke to me or even noticed I was listening. I retreated to a back room of the house and kneeled by a window and prayed to a God whom I had been taught loves us all, that it was not true and that my father would come home. After what to my 11-year-old mind seemed forever, my 18-year-old sister found me. She had no idea what to say and therefore just held me in a loving embrace for a long time until, through my sobs, I came to accept that my father was gone. She then handed me a box of tissues and told me my responsibility was to make sure everyone had a tissue if they needed it. I carried that box with me for days, well after my father’s funeral, and handed out tissues with abandon. I am sure many people left the house with pockets full of tissue that they neither needed or wanted.

My sister, Maxine Cookston Evans, died on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. The loving embrace that has been extended to me during the time of her decline and now her death is incredibly important. I have been and am supported by your warmth and caring. I also have witnessed others being supported by love extended by our congregation. The way we, as a faith, celebrate life instead of focusing on loss is somehow like that box of tissues because it calls on us to own and cherish the lives of our loved ones and pass on their essential nature rather than focus on grief. I cannot begin to express my profound appreciation for your loving embrace as I face this transition in my life and I think I speak for others that have experienced it and will experience it.

And now for the news from the Board.

Your Board has approved a resolution regarding gun violence that we will offer the opportunity to other faith communities to sign on to so that it can be provided to the media and the organizers of the NRA Convention in April in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can access the resolution by opening the link HERE.

It is with great pride I advise you that the Board received and approved a proposal from one of our youth, Everett Morrison, regarding an Eagle Scout Project to install a “Little Lending Library” on the Fannin side of our building. A “Little Lending Library” makes free books available to all and accepts donated books. He will still have to have the project approved by the Boy Scout Council and therefore it will be a while before the installation can begin, but we assured him that our membership would be very interested in keeping the library supplied with books. To see a picture of what it will look like open the link HERE.

Leslie Morrison and Charles Johnson, Co-chairs of our Transformation Committee, presented a report to the Board about engaging the congregation with regard to the consideration of adoption of the 8th Principle for our congregation. The Committee will be launching congregation-wide conversations about the 8th Principle in April and May and bringing the matter to the congregation for a vote at the next Annual Membership Meeting on June 4. You can read the proposed 8th Principle by opening the link HERE.

In addition to consideration of the 8th Principle, the UUA at GA also will consider changes to their Bylaws including a significant revision to Article II. This section of the Bylaws has historically contained the 7 Principles. You can review the proposed Article II revision by opening the link HERE.

In addition, the 6-year term of office of the UUA President, Susan Frederick Gray, is coming to an end and a new President will be elected at GA. All of these very important issues are coming before GA which will occur between June 21 - 25, 2023 (online or in-person) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Board can appoint up to 7 members as delegates to GA from our congregation. Five have already indicated a willingness to be appointed to participate either online or in person. We are looking for two more delegates. If you are interested, please let me or any Board Member know. We do have some resources to cover the cost of the registration fee.

It is important that I advise you that we are at the midpoint of the five-year contract with Rev. Bossen to serve as our Developmental Minister. The five Goals called Open Questions that we have been working on with him follow:

· What kind of Church do we want to be?

· How can we have a healthy relationship with our Senior Minister and the UUA?

· What is our vision for and commitment to multi-site?

· How can we increase diversity in our church and work to dismantle white supremacy?

· More people should be here with us – how do we engage them?

These Questions were established in order to prepare us to call a settled minister. To evaluate our progress related to the Open Questions the Board established a committee that has been conducting a targeted survey of members. The results will shortly be reported to the Board and then the membership and will in combination with other input from you be used to identify new or revised Open Questions going forward. Your input will be sought and will be invaluable.

I must now end my effort to share information about First UU where the preachers are eloquent, the music is wonderful, the members are working to embrace the Circle of Love, and the children are all above average.

Ron Cookston
Board President