News November 24, 2023

Cover November 26, 2023
Dear Friends and Members,

As I sit down to prepare my message to you this month, I find myself conflicted about looking forward to a season that emphasizes being thankful and hopeful at a time when there is so much threat and so many challenges in the World. I have found myself looking forward to traditions that have become important for our family. One of those comes from a tradition that started during World War II in Mary’s family. Two of her brothers were in the military and on Christmas Eve, the family would gather and light a candle in the window and recite a poem her mother had composed, “Little candle burning bright, shine across the world tonight, carry all our love afar to where all our loved ones are.” We keep a burning candle on our windowsill most of the time during the season. Another is that we prepare and serve cheese grits. Although I realize that for many of you, the idea of serving grits of any kind as a special holiday side dish may not strike you as very special or even edible, but for our family, it has become a tradition. Just in case anyone would like to try them, click HERE for the recipe. In combination with the Christmas tree (which we put up the day after Thanksgiving), the wreath on the front door, and other seasonal decorations, these have become traditions for us and help us remember a sense of thankfulness and hope. During the homily at the Bread Communion last Sunday, Carol Burrus shared with all of us a tradition associated with her family. They sign, “Thank you for this food, for this food, for this glorious, glorious food. And the animals and the vegetables and the minerals that make it possible. Bon Appetit and Amen”. Of course, Carol sang the words, but I found them so compelling that I wanted to capture them and share them with you.

I am hopeful that each of you has some traditions from your unique life experiences that give you some joy. They will not make the issues in the world go away, but I hope they will help you find ways to put them in perspective. As members of the First UU Houston Beloved Community, I am hopeful some of you will be willing to share some of your traditions by sending me an email at I will include some of them in my newsletter in December. I know threats to democracy, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, threats to the environment all weigh on us. Although tangible results affecting these worldwide events can’t be proven, I am suggesting by choosing to be Thankful and generating Hope, each of us will make a subtle difference for our families, for each other and that may make a difference in the world.

Hopefully one of your traditions is to participate either in person or on line in an activity associated with the congregation. Here is the schedule for the winter holiday services:
  • Sunday, December 17th, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. ~ Annual Christmas Pageant, led by Rev. Cooper and Carol Burrus
  • Thursday, December 21st, 7:00 p.m. ~ Winter Solstice, led by Dr. Bossen and Dr. Rocke
  • Sunday, December 24th,
      • 10:30 a.m. Posadas,
      • 11:30 a.m. Nochebuena,
      • 6:00 p.m. Stories and Cider,
      • 7:00 p.m. Christmas Eve ~ Dr. Bossen and Dr. Rocke
    • Sunday, December 31st, 11:30 a.m. Inspired 2023 ~ Rev. Cooper

    Note that there will not be a 9:30 a.m. service on either December 24th or 31st and the 11:30 a.m. service on the 24th will be in Spanish.

    Be sure and follow the newsletter and or check the Church Calendar HERE for details.

    At the Board Meeting on November 15, we discontinued one of the most hard-working committees called the Capital Campaign Projects Identification Task Force with appreciation for their work over the last 3 years to identify and lay foundation for the Capital Campaign. Committee members included Michael Morrison, Jon Naylor, Bill Nelson, Joe Lach, and Bob Miller. Tawanna Grice ably assisted and Laura Michaelides consulted with the Committee. The Board then created a Committee called the Renew and Rebuild Committee which will help the Board set priorities and assist with implementation of the projects to be completed over the next three years depending on the results of the Capital Campaign which is in the final stages of completion.

    Another very important activity of the Board is to monitor the financial condition of the Congregation. At the recent Board meeting, the first 2023-2024 Quarterly Report was presented. The primary person who prepares this report is our Treasurer, Don Poole, supported by Tawanna Grice. Don also is assisted by the Finance Committee consisting of Evan Michaelides, Griff Godwin, Khia Thompson, Linda Richardson, John Stauffacher and Beth McCracken who serves as Board Liaison. This is a hard-working Committee that year after year does its work behind the scenes to make the work of the Congregation a success.

    As always, it is hard to find a way to conclude my effort to share information about First UU where holiday services will promote Peace and Love, the music will be inspiring, the members are compasionate, and the children are all above average, but end I must.

    Ron Cookston
    President of the Board