News – May 3, 2024

Cover May 5, 2024
Dear Members and Friends,

I write this from the church’s second-floor library, looking out of the window at an empty lot across Fannin Street. The property itself looks unremarkable. But, as many of you know, it will be the topic of much discussion over the next 2 months, as we prepare for a congregational vote on whether to purchase it for parking.

As of April 23, our congregation has entered into a contract with the seller, allowing us up to 90 days to conduct due diligence (one 30-day option period, with the possibility to extend twice) to determine whether to go forward with the purchase. Board members are working to gather and disseminate the information we’ll all need to make an informed congregational decision. For example, we’ve reviewed the results of the congregational parking survey (thank you to all respondents) and scheduled a meeting with civil engineers to commission a study of the lot. We’re completing a memo on possible financing options and budgetary implications, and taking another look at additional rental parking options in the area. We’ll develop a plan to get this information to the congregation, allow for questions and discussion over the coming weeks.

This won’t be an easy decision. We need to decide to what extent our future parking needs are a current priority, as well as how to pay the $1.4 million asking price. As your Vice President and soon-to-be President, I’ll admit to wishing that some higher authority would just tell us what to do. (Maybe with a “Because I Said So” thrown in for good measure.) But, of course, our commitment to self-governance is part of what makes us Unitarian Universalists. Our forebears decided long ago to practice congregational polity, rather than be subject to potentially corrupt religious authorities. Our embrace of democracy is enshrined in our 5th principle- shared decision-making for us has risen to the level of religious exercise.

The possible property purchase is a high-stakes decision, both financially and from a future planning standpoint. We have imperfect information about future trends in membership, church finances, and future availability of real estate. There’s no current parking “emergency”, as for now we have the use of two lots adjacent to the church. Because our congregation is not in a strong financial position to begin with, any decision to purchase will necessitate some difficult decisions, including our willingness to take on debt, and/or utilize the unrestricted portion of our endowment, and/or redirect portions of our capital campaign funds.  But as we face the fact that we own no parking of our own, combined with increasing real estate prices and an increased shortage of land, this may be our last opportunity to secure it.

Yet, as difficult as the road ahead seems to be, I’m incredibly optimistic. Over the past 5 years of Rev. Dr. Colin Bossen’s Developmental Ministry, our congregation has done the difficult work to decide who we are, where we are going, and how we want to treat each other along the way. We’ve adopted new By-Laws and Principles of Governance to guide us. Whatever our shared decision, I’m confident that we’re prepared to implement a respectful and transparent process to get us there. I will endeavor to treat this process of shared decision-making as the religious exercise that it is, and call on all of us to approach it with civility, openness, and a commitment to maintaining the beloved community we’ve built together.

For anyone who has questions in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact the Board Executive Committee at

With love,
Sheryl Abrahams

Vice President, First Church Board of Directors

Where Are the Ministers?

Dr. Bossen
will be in the office but out of the pulpit for much of the month. He’ll be assisting with the May 11th Spanish language service and preaching on May 19th.

Rev. Scott
will again host his Kentucky Derby Hat Decorating Table at the Spring Arts Festival on Saturday, May 4. The next day he will assist Carol Burrus and Dr. Rocke with the Coming of Age Services. Rev. Scott will join Rev. Tania Márquez on the chancel for the Mother’s Day service. Then on Friday, May 17, he will greet those of you who have pledged at the Pledge Campaign Party (You have turned in your pledge card, haven’t you?).

Then, on Sunday the 19th, he’ll be in the chancel as Dr. Bossen talks about our next Lives of the Spirit exemplar Swami Vivekananda. The next Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, Rev. Scott will be in the pulpit preaching.