News – June 23, 2023

Cover June 25, 2023

Dear Members and Friends:

As I thought about this message, I realized that many of you have plans to go on vacation. As a result, I could not help but recollect that as a child my family rarely took time to go on vacation. My parents were children of the Great Depression. They worked all the time and even though they had resources and could have taken some time for themselves they did not. I do remember one vacation when I was 8 years old. We traveled all the way from Dallas to Galveston. There is one picture of me holding the tail of a big fish while my father held the head. He had obviously gone deep sea fishing. Shortly after the picture was taken, I was not able to continue to hold onto the tail because it was heavy and very slick. For some odd reason that memory is very dear to me. Perhaps I cherish that memory because it was one of the few times when I was near my father and instead of thinking about work, he was thinking about the us that was our family.

To me Vacations are more than just a time to get away. They are opportunities to build memories that can sustain and nourish and perhaps make connections. Therefore, I hope each of you will have a wonderful experience and take time to build memories that you will bring back next September when we hold the water ceremony and each of you will have the opportunity to share some water from wherever you go and share your experiences.

Although most Unitarian Universalist Congregations reduce their services over the summer, that will not be the case at First UU. Our Ministers and Staff will take some time off to both refresh, and engage in study leaves to prepare for next year. However, we will have engaging services led by Rev. Dan King, Rev. Rebecca Edmiston-Lange, Rev. Monica Lopez, and Rev. Carrie Holley-Hurt. In addition services led by Rev. D. Scott Cooper and Rev. Bossen will occur. When you are in town check the Calendar and/or the Newsletter for details.

You recently received a notification about the completion of a mid-term evaluation of our Developmental Ministry. You can see the results of the finding from that evaluation HERE. We began our 5-year Developmental Ministry journey with the Rev. Dr. Colin Bossen on July 1, 2021. In spite of the fact that no one could have anticipated a COVID epidemic which was a serious setback, the evaluation documents that we have made a great deal of progress. Clearly, we need to find ways to communicate better, but we are clearly on the right track. If you have not taken time to read the report, I commend it to you.

At the Annual Meeting you elected outstanding new leaders for the Board for next year. This last year it has been a pleasure to work with Connie Acosta as Vice President, Lauri Zuchlewski, Chris Scott, Forrest Johnson, Sheryl Abrahams, and Beth McCracken. In addition, Ruth Hoffman-Lach continued as Immediate Past President to advise the Board. At the Board Meeting in June, we honored Connie and Ruth for service above and beyond the call of duty as that was their last meeting with the Board. At the Annual meeting you elected Andrew (Drew) Stawar, PD Wadler, and Toni Holland for three-year terms on the Board, and you even saw fit to elect me to be on the Board for one more year. It is clear to me that thanks to the work of the Nominating Committee, First UU Houston has the leadership in place to meet our goals for next year and beyond.

At the Annual Meeting opportunities were provided for comments on the budget for next year. Several valuable comments were made that the Board considered at its meeting in June before passing the budget for next year. Based on your generosity during the Pledge Campaign and careful management of our resources, we are on a sound financial footing that will make it possible to begin to fulfill the Mission, Vision, and Covenant that the membership adopted to Widen Love's Circle.

If you missed the annual meeting, it is important to recognize that by an impressive margin the decision was made to adopt the 8th Principle; "Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse and multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions." With our Vision, Mission, and Covenant established and our recognition of our now 8 principles, we have established a framework that is impressive.

As always 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 generous, and the children are all above average, but end I must.