News – July 29, 2022
Dear Members & Friends,
Before I begin to report the news, I think as your now relatively-new President, I need to explain one of my peculiarities. At every service, my wife Mary and I sit near the front so that I can hear. At some point during the service, I will turn around and look at the gathering. I know many of you have noticed this because of the quizzical look on your faces. One day Mary turned me around and whispered in an accusatory voice “What are you doing?” I did not know. I thought about the question all week, but it was not until the next Sunday when I did it again that I realized I am seeking confirmation of the community where I belong. This has become for me what Rev. Bossen calls a personal religious practice. Intentionally or not, I suspect most of us have such behaviors. I am just grateful to know that I am part of a community that will accept my peculiarities and will even support my search for what they mean.
Well, it has been a bit hectic at First Church recently. Rev. Bossen is still on study leave. Right now, he is somewhere in Europe researching his book and preparing to deliver outstanding sermons when he returns on September 6th. Rev. Cooper has just returned from a cruise in Norway. Carol Burrus is back from Ireland. And whenever I do reach one of you, I learn that you are in New York, Maine, Colorado, or any number of relatively cool places. What stories we are going to have to share in the fall!
In July, the Board passed its covenant to guide the way members will work together. The brief statement of it follows: “We light this chalice to remind ourselves that we are human, and we are both lifted and limited by our humanity. May we be kind, compassionate, and make room for growth, both within ourselves and within this group. Here, we practice governance rooted in love.” The Board also created a Task Force including Michael Morrison, Jon Naylor, Khia Thompson, and Joe Lach to identify projects to be included in a capital campaign this spring to secure a Legacy for the Future of First UU. I am pleased to tell you that an anonymous donor has already contributed $450,00 to jump start the campaign. The Task Force will soon be seeking your ideas so get ready to share your thoughts.
The UUA General Assembly, which is our national annual membership meeting, gathered in Portland, Oregon in late May and was inspiring to members Mary K., Ruth H.L., Rebecca T., Rev. Cooper, and me who attended in person. At General Assembly, we voted on Actions of Immediate Witness which shape the UUA’s social justice commitments. The 3,000 + delegates overwhelming voted for social justice resolutions that support reproductive justice (99 percent), anti-racism and reparations via restorative justice (95 percent), and to oppose the privatization of Medicare (77 percent). Since the Supreme Court struck down Roe, which occurred while GA was in session, many of you have been asking what the membership of First UU can do. Fortunately, Rachael Naegli and Ruth Hoffman-Lach have agreed to work with the Justice Coordinating Council (JCC) and its Chair Dianne Reece to develop a strategic plan to focus on this issue.
Also, have you met Jordan Ostrum, Voting Justice Organizer? He has joined our staff to work through November with our membership and other UU congregations in the Area to focus our efforts to register voters and getting out the vote. Mary Koch, our lead representative with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), is working closely with them to identify the initiatives that partner organization will focus on next year. Stop by the JCC table or talk any of the folk referenced to learn more or get involved with these initiatives.
Before closing, I want to acknowledge that our Membership Coordinator has resigned. This means that until a replacement can be hired, Alex Keimig and Tawanna Grice are having to not only do their jobs, but also hers. Mary Ann Cheslock and Connie Acosta are volunteering in the office to help, and that is greatly appreciated, but your patience is needed as our staff and office volunteers work through this.
There is so much more that is happening, but hopefully this gives some insight about what is going on at First Church, where the preachers are eloquent, the music is wonderful, the members are engaged, and the children are all above average.
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston