News – August 12, 2022
Finally, I pull back the curtain to speak to you directly! We are a socially-active community, with justice, progress, and democracy at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. We strive to effect positive change in the places we call home, both locally here in Houston as well as abroad in the global community. The louder we speak, the more we’re heard, and that can be a double-edged sword. We strive to be a beacon of hope and compassion, but that also makes us more visible to those who might disagree with our work and values.
We’ve seen a recent uptick in digital security concerns at First Church. Some of you may remember our website unexpectedly going offline a couple of weeks ago, and others may have been on the receiving end of some strange and out-of-character emails from “Rev. Colin” during his “prayer meetings”. We are actively working to combat these issues, including making frequent security updates to our website, but we need a hand from you, too. Here’s what you can do to help keep First Church (and yourself) secure online:
1. Report suspicious emails (purporting to be sent by staff or a minister) by forwarding them to email@example.com. If you’re ever in doubt about the legitimacy of an email that appears to be from a First Church staff member or minister, feel free to give the office a call or compose a new message, typing in our email address(es) yourself, to check in about whether we really were the ones to send it. If an email says not to call because the sender cannot be disturbed, that’s a surefire sign that it might not be legitimate!
2. Don't send gift cards, cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin), or any other form of currency via email to anyone claiming to be a staff member at First Church. We’ll never ask you to share funds through means other than our “Donate” page on https://www.firstuu.org (or by mail if you prefer paying your pledge or making a donation with check or cash).
3. Use good passwords, and don’t reuse passwords between accounts or websites. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and avoid creating passwords with words that are found in the dictionary. In general, the harder your password is to remember off the top of your head, the stronger it is. Consider using a passphrase instead of a password: an initialism that uses the first (or last) letter of each word in a series or phrase is often random, yet memorable if it is meaningful to you. Your email account, healthcare, and banking/financial passwords should be especially secure and unique!
4. Be sure to sign out of any shared or public devices (computers, tablets, etc.) to limit access to your accounts. If you sign in to check your email or the status of a delivery on a shared, public computer (like at the library or a community center), always log out before walking away. Staying signed in can allow bad actors to easily gain access to your information and potentially capitalize on your good reputation to gain the trust of your contacts. Don’t make it easy for them!
5. Keep your contact information up-to-date with us. We want to be certain that you can reach us when questions arise or trouble strikes, and we want to be able to say the same for you! Our database is a secure, cloud-hosted service used by religious communities all over the country. It’s important to keep your email, phone number, and a mailing address current in our system so that we can readily reach you and verify your identity if needed. If it’s time for you to update your information, stop by the front counter to fill out a quick Contact Refresh form on Sunday morning and leave it with us. We’ll get you taken care of!
Don’t be alarmed by these suggestions. While we take security concerns seriously, there’s no need to panic. We prefer to be proactive rather than reactive. Just as every building must maintain a strong physical foundation, we strive to maintain a dependable virtual presence that allows us to continue engaging those who cannot join us in-person. Our online engagement continues to thrive in a not-quite-post-pandemic world, and we see that we are building something wonderful and enduring here at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston. We are so thankful that you’re along for the ride with us!
Administrative & Programs Assistant
In my statement to the membership last week, I incorrectly reported the amount of an anchor donation for our upcoming Capital Campaign this Spring. That number should have been $450,000. Perhaps that was just a typo on my part. Perhaps it was my inability to consistently appreciate the generosity of the membership of First UU that caused me to state incorrectly a lower number. The fact is I am constantly amazed by the generosity whether in the form of time, talent, or resources of the membership of the Church. Regardless of the cause it is important to bring this correction to your attention.
First UU Board President