News: June 28, 2024

Cover June 30, 2024
Dear Friends and Members,

I begin this message by thanking all of you who made thoughtful comments about the draft budget during the Annual Meeting on June 2, 2024. Staff and Board members listened. As a result, the Board revised the budget and on June 19, 2024, passed the revised budget that maintains our current staffing while accommodating Rev. Cooper’s decision to go half-time. Part of this was possible because one of our members, Sarah Rankin, has made a commitment to facilitate a new fundraising effort. We will all need to support that effort but, with her knowledge, experience, and leadership, we believe it will be successful. Other aspects of the budget were also revised and that resulted in a balanced budget.

One component of the budget revision resulted from the Board accepting a recommendation from the Search Committee that whether or not the membership calls Rev. Bossen at the conclusion of Phase 1, we do not proceed with a national search next year, but rather negotiate for an interim minister to guide us through the search process the following year. Realizing the wisdom of the recommendation, the Board accepted it which allowed reallocation of funds that were budgeted for a national search next year.

The Board was pleased to acknowledge the election of Patrick Kirwan, Eileen Allen, and Joan Wadill for three-year terms on the Board beginning on July 1, 2024 and the election of Natalie Browne, Lauri Zuchlewski, and Carl Walther for membership on the Nominating Committee for next year. Unfortunately, the Board also accepted the resignation of Don Poole as Treasurer. Don has served faithfully and diligently as our Treasurer for many years and his contributions to ensuring the financial stability of the congregation were acknowledged. Based on the recommendation of Don and the Finance Committee, Griff Godwin has agreed to be the next Treasurer. Griff Godwin has served on the Finance Committee for many years and has the training and skills to assume this important role.

The Board acknowledged the invaluable contributions of Lauri Zuchlewski, Chris Scott, and me upon the completion of our terms of service on the Board. We were presented with water bottles with the First UU Houston logo and hand-made chalices crafted and donated by congregant Elizabeth Asnes. Thanks to the Board members for their service and a special thanks to Elizabeth Asnes for the chalices. I will have the privilege to continue serving on the Board for the next in a non-voting capacity as immediate past president.

A continuing item on the board agenda is the due diligence activities related to the potential purchase of the property across the street. After receiving an update and discussion the Board set the date of Sunday July 21at 1:00 pm in the Sanctuary for a Special Membership meeting to for consideration of this matter and a vote. The Board further determined that for a decision to purchase the property to be approved that a 2/3 affirmative vote by either in person or absentee ballots of a Quorum necessary for a Membership meeting will be required. Over the next few weeks several opportunities will be announced in the newsletter for opportunities to discuss this. I encourage each of you to plan to participate in one of the forums and plan to vote with regard to this matter either by absentee ballot or at the membership meeting.

By tradition the Vice President of the Board this year, Sheryl Abrahams, will become the President of the Board next year. In addition, Joan Waddill who served a previous three year term on the Board has agreed to come back on the Board and be considered for the position of Vice President next year. Although the actual election will not occur until the Board meeting in July, both have been diligently preparing for their new roles and both bring unique talents, experience, and skills to their roles that will result and remarkable leadership.

As I write this my last message as President, I am stuck by the opportunities that lay ahead for First UU Houston. That is due in large part to the abundance of skills and commitment to “Widening Love’s Circle” that is infused across our beloved community. By each of us contributing what we can of our capabilities and resources while trusting each other to do the same, the future of our congregation is bright. Given the challenges currently prevailing in our community and state to advancing the worth and dignity of every human being and the respect for the independent web of all existence, the need for our voice is and will be more needed than ever.

One last time I conclude my effort to share information about First UU where the preachers are eloquent, the music is wonderful, the beloved community is growing, and the children are all above average.

Ron Cookston
President of the Board
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston