News – September 02, 2022

September 4, 2022 - cover

Dear Members & Friends,

      When I was a teenager living in Tyler, Texas, I was not a member of the “In Crowd”. Therefore, there was not a lot to do. Some friends of mine who were also in a similar ranking found that one compelling thing to do was to go to revivals. In that part of East Texas, it was never hard to find a revival going on someplace almost every Friday and Saturday night. We went to revivals at the big prestigious churches and tent revivals usually held at small churches out in the country. The preaching was always fiery and loud. Most compelling was the music, the singing and the animated response from the congregation. As a result, I sang my way down to the altar and have been rededicated on many occasions.Those of you that have sat next to me in Church already know that my only skill related to music is my ability to turn on a radio. However, I can and do sing loudly.

      One of the compelling things about our church is the Music Program. While I have been a member, Dean Dalton, Jason Obey, and Mark Vogel have provided outstanding direction. Each brought their own unique skills to their role and our Choir has always managed to deliver. Not to diminish their contributions, our new Director of Music, Dr. Jolie Rocke, along with Pianist & Organist,Chelsea de Souza, are delivering a remarkable level of musical diversity and depth despite COVID restrictions that have prevented the choir from being fully engaged. Talented members of the Church and other guest musicians also have supported the music program just since last January. These have included Traveler, the String Band, Steve Buza, Jim McGehee, Karoline Mueller, Paige Powell, Carol Burrus and Charlie Burrus, Mackenzie Manning, Rev. D. Scott Cooper, Theresa Grawunder, Rev. Erin Walter, Steve Colvin, Ian Cain, Dr. Jason Oby, Isabelle Ganz, and The Clear Creek Girls. I was also so pleased that the Choir performed at Ingathering Sunday and that Dr. Roche and the Choir are planning to perform at two services each month going forward. Although I realize that the image members of First UU Houston singing their way to the front of the Church to rededicate themselves to our UU Values and the Beloved Community is hard to imagine, given the compelling nature of our preaching and music do not be surprised if some Sunday, it happens.

      Now for the news from the Board where summertime living is supposed to be easy and the catfish are supposed to be jumping. This summer compelling events in the nation and the world have made that impossible for your hard-working Board. I have already shared information previously about the care we are taking to identify a strategic plan for us to respond to issues regarding reproductive justice & women’s health issues and the expected onslaught of asylum seekers to the Houston area. That work is continuing. You can expect strategic directions to be developed probably by early October.

      One of the expectations of the Board is that it will work with staff and the membership to establish a set of “Open Questions” each year to guide its work. With Rev. Bossen on sabbatical and the difficulty of seeking in put from the membership over the summer, the Board has established the following questions carried over from last year.

· What kind of Church do we want to become? The Vision, Mission and Covenant Committee is collecting responses to propose an answer to this question at a membership meeting in January.

· How can we have a healthy relationship with our Senior Minister and with the UUA? Last year Principles of Governance were established to focus on this and this year the Board is implementing them

· How can we increase diversity in our church and work to dismantle white supremacy? Our Transformation Committee is working on this.

· More people should be here with us – How do we engage them? A growth and development plan was adopted last year and will be continued this year.

      This Spring expect to be engaged in conversations to establish the “Open Questions” for 2023 - 2024.

      Sometimes seemingly small things can become irritants. One of those at First UU has been giving the membership access to minutes of Board Meetings and copies of Resolutions. We keep that information electronically, but over the years it had gotten difficult to access and share. Fortunately, due to outstanding work by our Acting Clerk, Joe Zuchlewski, I am pleased to tell you that those records are now in order. If a member of the congregation now wants access to minutes of a meeting or resolutions passed by the Board send an email to minutes@firstuu.org and expect that the material will be provided in a week or so.

      The Ingathering and Water Communion on Sunday August 21 marked the beginning of the new year for the Church. As much as we all look forward to that and Rev. Bossen’s return, I can only reflect on what has been an outstanding summer in terms of services. Rev. Cooper, Carol Burrus, and Dr. Roche provided inspiring and thoughtful services. Guest preachers including the Rev. Dr. Stephen G Ray, Jr, the Rev. Erin Walter, Rev. Dan King, Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Bishop Carlton Pearson, and Jason Oby offered new perspectives and inspiration. If you missed any of these services, you can find them on the livestreaming page of our website, or on YouTube.

      I would be remiss if I did not emphasize that at First UU we value the democratic process and the right to vote. Therefore, our Justice Coordinating Council, under the leadership of Dianne Reece working with our Voting Justice Organizer, Jordan Ostrum, is calling on all of us to plan to vote and get involved in helping insure that people know how to vote in the very important upcoming Mid Term elections. Visit the Justice Coordinating Council Table between services to find out how you can get involved or send an email to votingjustice@firstuu.org.

      Salutations from the Board of First UU where the preachers are eloquent, the music is wonderful, the members are engaged, and the children are all above average.

Ron Cookston
Board President

Get Trained to Register Voters!

 Are you interested in being trained to register local voters? Great news! You have a choice of two upcoming training opportunities: one held virtually via Zoom, and one held in-person here at First Church. The registration deadline is Wednesday, 9/7 for both trainings. Please contact votingjustice@firstuu.org with any questions you may have.

 

Click here to register for the virtual training happening on Wednesday, 9/7 at 6:00 PM.


Click here to register for the in-person training happening on Saturday, 9/10 at 1:00 PM.

 

 

Where are the Ministers this September?

 

      Rev. Colin remains on sabbatical, researching his book and enjoying England. You can follow along on his adventures via his blog. He’ll be back in the pulpit on September 11.

      Rev. Scott will join Dr. Rocke on the chancel on September 4th, and will be out of the office September 6th - 15th.