News – October 29, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

While it may not have stayed, the cooler weather we recently enjoyed does seem to have signaled the end of the summer sauna. Yay! And with the recent announcements about vaccine availability for children, the light seems to be appearing at the end of the tunnel. What a relief for parents who have been carefully balancing messages about safety precautions with reassurances that all will be well, and for teachers and others who work with children daily. I am beginning to imagine the day when we can safely gather in person – all of us. It may not look exactly like the before times (to borrow from Rev. Colin), but we will be together.

Board News

The Board’s October 2 retreat focused on clarifying our goals for the fiscal year, and evaluating progress on our Developmental Ministry goals. We were honored to welcome Thao Costis, President of SEARCH Homeless Services, whose presentation on how Boards adapt to changes in governance and programming was extremely helpful and informative. We will hold another retreat in February to plan for the 2022-2023 program year.

Facilities Developments

We are still awaiting the arrival of the Centerpoint tree trimming crews. They come when they come.... Once they have cleared branches away from any of their equipment, we will be able to proceed with the remaining tree trimming.

The last of the new HVAC units will be installed above the sanctuary during the first week of November. We had to wait until the weather was likely to cooperate for several days in a row, because the process involves using a crane (!) to lift the units on and off the roof. Any little people (or big ones) who are particularly mesmerized by construction vehicles might enjoy watching (from a safe distance, of course).

As was expected and inevitable, the very old roof on the Clayhead Road building has further deteriorated and is beyond repair. While we want to protect the building from water damage, it would be neither financially nor environmentally responsible to replace the roof at this time, as plans for future use of the property remain uncertain. For now, we have had a roofing company cover the problem areas with blue tarp, and fill in holes along the eaves with foam sealant.

Thoreau Campus Update

While we continue to hope that the newly forming Thoreau Congregation will be able to obtain UUA recognition by year’s end, we want to be prepared to discuss possible options for disposition of the Clayhead Road property after January 1, in the event that we are not able to return to negotiations. For this reason, the Board created an Ad Hoc Committee on Disposition of the Clayhead Road Property to gather information about the options that may be available, and the factors that would need to be considered in any plan. Fort Bend County has its own set of regulations regarding land use and real estate transactions. There are also specific rules related to drainage access, utility easements, and flood control measures, etc. that apply to the Clayhead Road property. One of several questions that the task force will be investigating is whether any part of the five acres can be parceled and sold as smaller lots. The task force will consult with a variety of professionals and present a report at the Board’s December 20th meeting.

Developmental Ministry Updates

Identity – Mission/Vision/Covenant
“What kind of a church do we want to become?”

As I mentioned in the August Board update, we created an Ad Hoc Committee on Mission Vision and Covenant (CMVC) to help craft “a Mission, Vision and Covenant that are common knowledge and, along with a Strategic Plan and Annual Vision of Ministry, inform decision making.” That committee has now been filled and is beginning its work. The first task will be to work with the congregation to write a mission and vision for FUUCH that can be adopted at the February Board meeting.

Governance, Ministry and Administration
“How can we have a healthy relationship with our Senior Minister and with the UUA?”
             Implement and refine our new Principles of Governance, including our new management and  
            administrative structure.

February was chosen as the date to adopt a new Mission and Vision because it is the date of the next Board retreat. As part of our process of transitioning into the new governance model, the Board is adjusting its annual calendar to better align with the program year. Traditionally, we have held the annual planning retreat in the fall and adopted the budget for the next program year in the spring. While this sequence follows the academic year calendar nicely, it is actually out of synch with the church’s program year, which runs from July 1 – June 30. Waiting until the fall to plan for a year that started in July is not the most efficient system. A better schedule is to plan for the upcoming program year in the spring, and then use the plan for ministry to develop the budget. The plan for ministry should be driven by the mission and vision of the church and thus, the CMVC is charged with bringing a mission and vision to the February board meeting.

Currently, the Developmental Ministry Goals are serving to direct our vision of ministry and growth plan, as they should. However, the Developmental Ministry is a limited period – only five years, after which the Senior Minister will be creating an annual vision of ministry based on FUUCH’s mission and vision with input from the congregation and the Board.

Multiculturalism, Anti-racism, and Inclusion:
“How can we increase diversity in our church and work to dismantle white supremacy?”

The Transformation Committee has been charged with guiding the congregation through a process of inquiry and dialogue on multiculturalism and exploring the proposed 8th Principal of Unitarian Universalism. The committee is currently meeting twice monthly and plans to begin engaging the congregation in this important work very soon. Watch the newsletter and announcements for updates and opportunities for involvement.

Multi-site Model
“What is our vision for multi-site?

The departure of members who are forming the new Thoreau congregation effectively ended FUUCH’s multi-site ministry. Nonetheless, we still need to process the experience of multi-site ministry, from how it began to how it ended. The Board is offering two opportunities for the congregation to come together and talk through the multi-site chapter of our shared history. The first meeting will take place in person, on Wednesday, December 1, at 7:00 pm at the church. The second will be Wednesday, December 8, at 7:00 pm by Zoom. Watch the newsletter for additional information.

Growth and Membership Engagement:
“More people should be here with us – how do we engage them?”

The first in person Spanish language service held on October 2, was a tremendous success. A total of 24 people attended in person, including eight who had never visited FUUCH before. An additional 11 attended virtually. Since then, several other people have viewed the recording. One attendee who has attended FUUCH before remarked that having the service done fully in their mother tongue was deeply moving in unexpected ways. Given the program’s success, it is likely that FUUCH will begin offering services in Spanish every other month in 2022. The next Spanish language service will be held on Christmas Eve AT 5:00 pm.

As the days continue to shorten, and temperatures cool, First UU is definitely not preparing to hibernate - we are too busy going about the business of building a community of love in action. Good things are happening and magic is afoot! Blessed be.

In community,