News October 27, 2023

Cover October 29, 2023
Dear Friends and Members,

“Halleluiah!” I say.

Being President of the Board of First UU Houston gives me the opportunity to know a lot about what is happening across our congregation. “Halleluiah!” I say. When Rev. Bossen introduced our Capital Campaign in a sermon on October 1 with the word Halleluiah, I must tell you I thought that he was a little nuts. How can he begin a thing with a word normally reserved for the end of a thing. Even though we are still in the middle of the campaign and it will not conclude until November 15, knowing about the progress to date, I now find that I can only join him by saying “Halleluiah!” Those of you that have already made a pledge demonstrate a remarkable commitment to the theme of the campaign, “Renew, Rebuild, and Rejoice.” There is now no doubt that we are creating a foundation for the future of First UU Houston so the Circle of Love will, in fact, widen. It is understood that some of you are not in a position to make an additional financial pledge to the campaign. What is clear to me, however, is that all of you are, and will continue to participate in efforts to build a Beloved Community, Together we will achieve remarkable things. “Halleluiah!” I say. To those of you who have not yet submitted your pledge, I encourage you to do so. To those of you that have, I can only say “Thank you.”

This progress does mean that over the next few months we will need to plan how to execute the projects in the Capital Campaign. To do that, at the November Board meeting, we will consider discharging the Capital Campaign Projects Identification Committee because they as they have completed their charge with admirable competence and charter a Capital Campaign Implementation Committee. I have three requests of you:
  • Surely, one of you will be able to suggest a catchier name for this Committee which is expected to work over the next three years to achieve the objectives of the Capital Campaign. Please make your suggestions to me or to any Board Member.
  • At present Michael Morrison and Jon Naylor, who have served on the previous Committee, have agreed to serve on this Committee in order to provide continuity. Forrest Johnson, who does this type work professionally at the Texas Medical Center, has agreed to serve as Board Liaison. We need three more members to complete this Committee. If you are interested, please let me or any Board Member know.

  • Many of you have already completed the survey developed by the Capital Campaign Team. If you have not completed the survey, please open it at capital projects survey and complete it. Regardless of the final results from the Campaign, your input is needed to guide how we implement the projects and the results of the survey will guide the Board in setting priorities.

It is expected that the Board start setting these priorities at the December meeting. I find this very appropriate since it will be something like opening Christmas presents! The final implementation plan will be available for review by you, the membership, in late December. Our expectation is that it will be possible to begin some projects in January 2024. What a wonderful way to begin the new year. “Halleluiah!” I say.

On Sunday, October 22, First UU Houston joined with other congregations and organizations from across Houston through our affiliation with TMO (The Metropolitan Organization) to hold an Accountability Session for mayoral candidates. The four leading mayoral candidates were present including John Whitmire, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Lee Kaplan, Gilbert Garcia. They were asked to publicly commit and be held accountable to the following:
  • Implement community policing and continue to fund the One Safe Houston Plan.
  • Match city funding with private funding raised by the Home Repair Collaborative to make repairs to the homes of low-income families.
  • Provide $500,000 for Capital IDEA to match federal and state funding to promote workforce development.
  • Full implementation of the Houston Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to address climate change.
  • Address the looming $300 Million budget deficit while protecting the ability to address the needs of low-income citizens.
  • Support the passage of Proposition A to provide $2.5 billion for Harris Health to add a third Trama Care Center, renovate Ben Taub, convert LBJ to a much-needed Mental Health Treatment center, and four new community clinics.
Remarkably, all of the candidates committed to work with us on all these issues. It is expected that one of these people will become our new Mayor. There were over 500 of us in the room of which 29+ were from First UU Houston. For the first time, due to our advocacy, an issue designed to address climate change was included in issues raised by TMO. “Halleluiah!” I say.

For several months, our Justice Coordinating Council (JCC) has been working to help get out the vote. Early voting has begun and will continue through November 3. Election Day is November 7. This is a mid-term election and it is projected only about 20% of registered voters will actually vote. There is no better way for each of us to live our values than by voting. If you need help getting to the polls, stop by the JCC Table and make a plan to vote and ask for the help you need. “Halleluiah!” I say because I know you will stand up for democracy and VOTE!

Does it seem to you that there is a lot more going on at the Church and a lot more folk are participating both at the Church and online? Well, I can report to you that it is true. Last year, we worked together to identify Mission, Vision, and Covenant. These were adopted unanimously at the annual meeting. Staff, working with volunteer leaders, responded by developing the series Lives of the Spirit. That is now being implemented. Your participation is helping make this a great success. “Halleluiah!” I say.

There is so much more I want to share about how we are going Green, the work of our Community Services Projects Team, our outstanding Music and Arts program, and the OWL program that is occurring but I must conclude my efforts 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. “Halleluiah!” I say.

Ron Cookston,
President of the Board

Where are the Ministers this month?

Dr. Bossen
will be in the pulpit discussing Article II on November 5. He will be off Sunday, November 12th, and attending the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in San Antonio from November 17th to 21st.

Rev. Scott
will be visiting Broadway the first week of November. He’ll be back in the pulpit on the 12th, discussing the next person in our Lives of the Spirit series, Dorothy Day. The next week, Carol Burrus, Director of Religious Community, will join him on the chancel to celebrate Bread Communion. On November 26, he will again be in the pulpit preaching.