News March 22, 2024

Cover March 24, 2024(1)
Dear Members and Friends,

For this message, I want to begin with a report from our hard working Vice President, Sheryl Abrahams. At its meeting on March 20, the Board approved our 2024-25 Aspirations

- a set of broad questions that will help to define our focus for the coming year. Sheryl developed these Aspirations by studying the 5-year Developmental Goals adopted by the congregation in 2019 to guide the Rev. Dr. Bossen's 5-year Developmental Ministry with us, evaluating progress toward achieving these goals, and listening to Board and congregants about new aspirations. This required much studying, listening, and discerning. We’ve completed some of the Developmental Goals (for example, developing a new Mission, Vision, and Covenant), and the Board revised the Aspirations based on feedback from the congregation. For example, we've added a focus on deepening spirituality and on building a culture of caring for one another and for our community. To view the Aspirations access them HERE.

This talk of future planning might lead some of you to wonder how you can take part in shaping the next years of our congregation. We're so glad you asked! The Board has chartered a Strategic Planning Committee to do the work of developing a Five-Year Strategic Plan for the congregation. This plan will give us the roadmap toward fulfilling our vision and mission in the coming years. Compared to the broad goals outlined in our mission, the strategic plan will allow us to think about the specific ways to allocate our time, talent, and resources over the next 5 years and beyond. There will be multiple opportunities over the coming months to provide feedback to the Strategic Planning Committee- please monitor church communications and/or contact committee chair Karen Carlson.

At long last, it can now be reported that the projects to reduce the carbon footprint of our congregation have now been completed. Although there is more to do, we have updated all of our of our air conditioners to highly efficient units, all of our lighting has been converted to highly efficient LED lighting, all of our doors have been sealed, the large window at the east end of the sanctuary has been replaced with double pained glass, and our solar system became fully functional on February 15, 2024. Although there is no means to report to all the difference these changes have made, as of March 18, we have produced 6,523 kWh of electricity and offset 8,154 lbs. of CO2. The solar monitoring system is available for anyone to view at  SolrenView . Just enter our project name which is 5200 Fannin and then click on 5200 Fannin when it appears. There is no log in required.

It was reported to the Board that a funding request to FEMA for $150,000 to improve the safety of our facility was successfully submitted on March 14, 2024. The Board had authorized this action at a called meeting on March 4, 2023. We do not expect to know if we are funded before September 2024. A snapshot of the grant is provided as an information item HERE.

Most of you know that we do not own any parking. At the present time, the parking we use to the west and north of the Church are available through agreements with the property owners. Recognizing that this availability could change, the Board is continuing to exercise due diligence to identify parking alternatives. The property to the east of the Church on Fannin is on the market. Therefore, we will enter into a contract with the owner in order to have 90 days to assess the feasibility of purchasing this property in order to use it for a 30-to-40 space parking lot. Ultimately this matter will be brought to the membership for consideration. This matter is and will continue to be given a great deal of attention as we exercise due diligence.

At its meeting on March 20, 2024, the Board received the second quarter report from the Finance Committee presented by Don Poole, Treasurer. The report focused on our financial performance through December 31, 2023. The report raised issues regarding cash flow that have implications regarding our financial stability, particularly next year. Beyond reporting that, it is inappropriate for me to provide additional details other than to say that the Board is paying attention.

Rev. Bossen reported that the Annual Auction was very successful resulting in $45,000 raised. The Board expressed appreciation to Joe Lach, Joe Zuchlewski and everyone that worked so hard to make the Auction such a success. It was also reported that property bequeathed to the congregation last year sold on March 13 and will result in the receipt of $188,000 +.

It is hard to find a way to conclude my effort to share information about First UU where the preachers are eloquent, the music is wonderful, the members are engaged, and the children are all above average, but end I must.

Ron Cookston, President of the Board