News – March 3, 2023

Dear Members and Friends,

This Sunday the congregation will be voting to approve the proposed Mission, Vision, and Covenant and new bylaws. Both are the results of months worth of work by diligent and dedicated members. If they are passed, both will represent major accomplishments towards completing two of the congregation’s developmental goals.

The first of these has been focused on the work of identity. It is framed around answering the question: “What kind of a church do we want to become?”

The second of these has been directed towards creating better systems for governance, ministry, and administration. It answers: “How can we have a healthy relationship with our Senior Minister and with the UUA?”

The hope is that by answering these questions the congregation can break some of its longstanding cycles and build a foundation that will allow it to thrive into the future.The questions were identified at the start of my developmental ministry as part of a series of five that the congregation wanted to answer in preparation for a successful longterm settled ministry. As you might recall, I started in August 2018 as your interim minister. Arriving in the aftermath of the negotiated resignation of your previous Senior Minister, my role at that time was to stabilize the congregation and address the immediate issues that had led to his departure. When the Board invited me to stay on in a developmental capacity my role shifted to aiding in accomplishing the developmental goals.

We are now half-way through my developmental ministry contract. In the coming months, the Board and I will be sharing more about what that means for First Unitarian Universalist and what we hope to accomplish together in the next two and a half years.

One of those things will simply be to remind each other that developmental ministry is ministry. Alongside striving towards our long-term objectives the essential work of the congregation goes on. And this month there’s a lot of it. On March 13th, I am traveling to Austin with several members of the congregation to take part in the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry’s Action Day. This will be an important opportunity to put our values into action and lobby elected officials to enact sane legislation. Our particular focus this year is on maternal health and supporting HB12. This bill will expand Medicaid coverage to new mothers to 12 months.

At the end of the month, we will both be launching our annual stewardship drive and holding our annual retreat at UBarU. More information will about both will be coming soon. However, you can already register for the retreat. My family and I am planning to attend. I hope that you’ll consider joining us. UBarU is a wonderful place in the Texas hill country. A Unitarian Universalist retreat center, it is also a dark sky observatory and a unique place to ponder the heavens.

We have some exciting things planned for worship throughout the month as well. This Sunday I’ll be offering the third in my series of sermons on the proposed Mission, Vision, and Covenant (you can read the first two here and here). We will also be holding an inspiration Sunday. This is an opportunity for you to dig a little deeper and give a live more than you might usually to support all of the fantastic work of the congregation. With so many new folks coming to the church, we hope that this Sunday you’ll be especially inspired to give.

Next Sunday’s service, “The Buddha Should be as Useful as a Can”, is dedicated to the art, music, and religious teachings of the composer, artist, and Zen practitioner John Cage. We are blessed to have former Music Director and longtime Cage collaborator Dr. Isabelle Ganz joining us for the service. I don’t want to spoil any surprises but the service will be most unusual.

Then on March 19th, we will be focusing on the proposed changes to Article II in the Unitarian Universalist Association’s bylaws. While this might sound pedantic, it is actually an exciting moment in the life of our association. Article II of the bylaws is the section that contains the Principles and Sources. And the revision is an opportunity to rethink our associational covenant. Unitarian Universalism is a living tradition. Our religious ancestors have engaged in similar efforts about once every generation or so. And now it is our turn to reimagine what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist in our times.

Worship for the month will close out with the launch of our stewardship campaign. There will be more information about that in the coming months.

But for now, I hope that you will agree that it is an exciting time in the life of First Unitarian Universalist. I am so grateful to share it with you!