News – October 28, 2022

Dear Members & Friends,

      Dr. Bossen’s sermon this month that focused on the secular and the sacred struck a chord with many of you. I know this because you have mentioned it to me. It did the same for me. I was pleased that the sermon took me back to a time in my life when I was in deep despair because my first wife made the decision to end our 11-year marriage. For me being “married” and raising our son was the most important thing in my life. I was determined to get custody of our son. My attorney advised me that in the Dallas Family Court, a man had no chance of winning a custody case. A friend of mine recognized how devastated I was and suggested we take a backpacking trip to the Colorado mountains with our sons. Knowing I needed to do something, I agreed. After two days of hiking, we arrived at a small pristine lake called Bear Lake. After setting up camp, making dinner, and visiting a while around the campfire, my son and I retired into our tent. At some time after midnight, we were awakened by a fierce rain and wind storm. My son was fascinated by the rain pounding on the tent and, before I could stop him, reached up and ran his hand across the top of the tent. Of course, that resulted in water coming into the tent on his side and it was necessary for the two of us to huddle together on my side of the tent. As we began to hear limbs from the trees falling all around us, there was nothing we could do but hold each other and avoid the rising water in the tent.

      After the storm ended, we slept. I awoke just before dawn, disengaged from my son, and got out of the tent to survey the chaos. Limbs and debris were all around and I could only be glad that none fell on our tent. Standing at the edge of the lake, I began to notice the sky beginning to lighten over the mountains. I was fascinated by the sun beginning to present with red, pink, and gold streaks. After some time, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that I and my son would be OK and that somehow, I would find a path forward leading us to an even better life than the one that I had lost. I had no idea how, but I knew that somehow there was an order in the universe that would allow me to build a better life. Recognizing I had no chance of gaining custody of my son I nonetheless made it clear that I wanted him to live with me and stay in the home where we had lived so that he could continue in the same school. Although my ex-wife got custody, she agreed that he could stay with me. I connected with the love of my life, Mary Koch. After a considerable time because she was hesitant about becoming involved with a recently divorced man, she fell in love with my son and eventually with me

      At this point I realize that you are wondering what on earth my experience observing a sun rise years ago by at a small lake in Colorado has to do with First Unitarian Universalist. It is only through my association with our faith that I have had an opportunity to understand that experience was a legitimate spiritual encounter without having to be associated with some deity or other. More importantly, through the association with people that are willing to share in my life and allow me to share in theirs, my life experience has been and will continue to be enhanced. By telling my story, I hope it has reminded you of your encounters with the spiritual.

      And now for the news from the Board at First Unitarian Universalist. At the meeting on October 19th, we decided the monthly Board Chats are no longer helpful. They were of great value during the pandemic when we were not able to meet in person or visit during coffee hour; recently, however, the Chats were very poorly attended. Instead, we have created light blue name tags for all Board Member and have attached a small dark blue ribbon to help you to recognize us. You are encouraged to talk to any Board Member to offer your thoughts and ask questions. In the meantime, we will continue to use the Board Chats from time to time to discuss key issues and they will be highly publicized in advance.

      This month, quarterly reports were provided in many key areas of church operations: The Music Program is robust and is working to make it possible for the choir to perform more often; Community Projects continues to offer opportunities for involvement with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, Montrose Grace Place, Rebuilding Together Houston, the Emergency Aid Coalition, Friends of Phillis Wheatley High School Toiletry Drive, and the Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum in Freedmen’s Town. These activities are all making a difference far beyond our congregation; Religious Education has rich and diverse programs for our children with over 30 children engaged. This is quite large for a congregation our size. Additionally, Religious Education offers diverse adult programing and continues to develop more engaging opportunities for the rest of the year.

      Our efforts to promote Get Out the Vote activities are led by the Justice Coordinating Council and in cooperation other UU congregations in Greater Houston, TMO, TXUUJM and the UUA. We are seeing results: Over 4,000 Reclaim Our Vote post cards have been mailed, a goal of 100% voting participation is set for our congregation, and in cooperation with TMO, block walking and phone banking are taking place now through Election Day on November 8th. Visit the Justice Coordinating Council Table for more information about how YOU can help. Above all, REMEMBER TO VOTE. Early voting is open from October 24th through November 4th, and Election Day is November 8th. In Harris County, you can vote at any polling place in the County even on Election Day. For more details, see

      I want to highlight a very special event: the next Minister's Forum covering Religion in Houston’s Pan-African Community: A Conversation with Bishop Kimathi & Rev. Nailah Nelson on November 14th at the Shrine of the Black Madonna. More details about this are on our website.

      Another important report the Board received is an interim report from our Capital Campaign Cost Projection Task Force. Chaired by Michael Morrison, it is working identify needed improvements to our facilities, grounds, and infrastructure. This hard-working committee has already received many suggestions from members. In November, there will be two opportunities for you to preview this report and make additional suggestions. Look for information about this in this and upcoming email newsletters.

      Hopefully all of you have made a note on your calendars about the Winter Wonderland fundraising event. During the week of December 3rd to December 10th, the online auction will be held. On December 10th, a live auction will be held at the church. Now is the time for you to be thinking about offerings you want to make! The Winter Wonderland Team includes Joe L., Phil R., and Joe Z.. Watch the newsletter for more information.

      It is hard to find a way to conclude my efforts to share information about First Unitarian Universalist, where the preachers are eloquent, the music is wonderful, the members are engaged, and the children are all above average, but end I must.

Ron Cookston
Board President
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston

Where are the Ministers?

Dr. Bossen will be preaching on October 30th, joined on the chancel by Rev. Scott.