News – July 28, 2023

Cover July 30, 2023

Dear Members and Friends

At the annual meeting in June, you took several actions to set the direction of the Congregation for next year. If you were at the meeting, you heard these discussed and provided valuable input. The Board is using your input to chart our pathway for 2023-2024. The first thing was the election of three new Board Members and the continuation of one. Andrew “Drew” Stawar was elected to a tree year term: He is an attorney specializing in immigration law and is married with three children. PD Wadler was elected to a three-year term: PD is a practicing psychologist and has many previous leadership experiences with other UU congregations and on UUA committees. Toni Holland was elected to a three-year term: Toni is a poet and professor of English and Humanities and Director of the Honors College at HCC-SE campus. You also elected me, Ron Cookston, for a one-year term which allows me to bring to closure several major projects that were launched during the past three years. Lauri Zuchlewski will continue in the third year of her term: Lauri is now retired and has made invaluable contributions to the planning for our business systems and the Board Calendar. Chris Scott will continue in his third year and has been very helpful in bringing his financial skills to the Board. Forrest Johnson will continue in his second year on the Board, and in addition to helping with the Transformation Committee last year, has been a knowledgeable resource regarding facilities issues. Beth McCracken will continue in her second year on the Board and is now sort of retired. In her role as the Board Liaison to the Finance Committee, Beth has demonstrated outstanding leadership. Sheryl Abrams will continue in her second year on the Board. Sheryl is adept at understanding and taking action on social justice issues. This Board is younger, more members have children still at home, and the members have the knowledge and skills to make important contributions as the congregation strives to make our mission of “Widening Love’s Circle” into reality.

Some of you may be wondering why I am preparing this message. After all I was President of the Board last year. At the meeting in July, the Board chose to re-elect me as President for next year and elected Sheryl Abrahams as Vice President. Many of you may know that traditionally the person elected as Vice President has become President the following year. However, Connie Acosta was Vice President last year and that was the last year of her three-year term. I look forward to my role this year because it will provide an opportunity to help bring closure to many projects initiated over the last three years and will allow Sheryl an opportunity to develop her leadership role as Vice President and bring her insights to the Board.

At the meeting in July, the Board also recognized and honored Connie Acosta who will be leaving the Board after completion of her three-year term. We thank Connie for her work as Vice President and her leadership of the Governance Committee. We also recognized Ruch Hoffman-Lach for her extended service to the Board as Vice President, President, and Immediate Past President. They have both contributed greatly to the growth of the Board and the Congregation. We hope they will continue their engagement in other leadership or mentorship roles at First UU.

At the July meeting the Board adopted two important documents that will guide its work next year. The first is its behavioral covenant that will guide the work of the Board. Due to the changes in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws this last year, and based on a recommendations from the Governance Committee, the Board adopted a revision to the Principles of Governance which guides the actions of the Board. In order to provide transparency, these two documents have been placed on the website and can be accessed HERE.

At the Annual meeting in June, you adopted the 8th Principle to help guide us toward becoming a more multicultural congregation. It was noted at the Board meeting that among other actions at the annual General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the 8th Principle was also adopted. In addition, it was noted that there was much debate at General Assembly about the adoption of changes to Article II of the UUA Bylaws which is the section of the Bylaws where the various principles are enumerated. As a result, we, and all UU congregations, are being asked to consider changes to Article II prior to the next annual General Assembly meeting in June 2024. Therefore, as the Board establishes work groups and committees for this year, it is likely that a Task Force will be created to seek your input regarding this important matter.

The way the Board accomplishes its various tasks is through committees. At the August Board meeting, we will consider membership for next year’s committees. There will be a need for new members on the Finance, Governance, and Personnel Committees and it is likely that others will be created. I want to encourage you to think about serving on these committees. We hope to finalize committee appointments by September. Please tell any member of the Board of your interest.

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 beloved community is growing, and the children are all above average, but end I must.