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President's Message
The President's Perspective -- May 2020

We are now approaching two full months on virtual church, and so far things are going well. A number of people have stepped up to do things in a different way, and we will need to examine how to plan for moving forward. There is no clear reopening time and quite a bit of uncertainty on how long we can maintain with what we are currently doing. Like so many schools around the country, we will need to discuss our options for the Fall – do we open as normal? Do we stay virtual? Do we figure out a hybrid?

As a faith organization, we also need to see how we can meet people’s needs in other ways. We have, in my opinion, a disadvantage in that for a number of years our primary point of community has been Sunday service – and that is perhaps the one thing that puts the most people at risk. So, while virtual, we are examining other ways to increase interaction and community. Small groups are meeting online, meditation gatherings are happening, and other learning and deepening opportunities are cropping up. May we continue to grow and adapt to meet our congregation’s needs.

Tied into that is one of our main outreach projects: Family Promise. As of now, there are no plans to have congregations hosting FP families (and yes, they still are welcoming, working with, and graduating families) through July. What are we willing to do with our campus? If we aren’t having meetings and services, where many people from many households who have had numerous interactions (a wide web) are gathering, how could we use our campus safely and meaningfully? Something for us all to be thinking about.

Governance-wise, we have been making a number of strides this year on updating and streamlining policies and also revising charters and restaffing vital congregational committees. There is still more to do, and this year has had unique challenges that changed the focus of our work. Removing outdated procedures and irrelevant policies is an ongoing process that will continue next year.

Looking ahead at our 2020-2021 congregational budget, one of the things we will have to consider is how much we give to the UUA. We have a policy in place (FAP-9) that states clearly that UUFG pays its full assessment of dues to the UUA and local UUA representative (Southern Region). We have not followed this policy for quite a number of years. The UUA is requesting $18,162 from the Fellowship this upcoming year. This past year, we budgeted $10,000 – this is quite the difference from what we were willing to pay and what was asked of us (last year’s request was for $16,511). Obviously, with our plan to continue this year’s budget for a while, we won’t be making the course correction we need to make to honor our policy, but it is something we need to be aware of.

Finally, we are still committed to our goals for the year: Spiritual Deepening, Modernizing Sundays, and Expanded Welcoming.

  • Modernizing Sundays (or perhaps more apropos Modernizing Church): As we work in a virtual environment, the “modernizing” piece is hitting us front and center, and we have admirably risen to the challenge. We still have more work to do, and need feedback from members on what works for them and what they still need.
  • Spiritual Deepening: How we connect with each other during a pandemic has been challenging, and we are still learning as we go. How do we stay connected with one another and engage meaningfully as a group and as individuals when so much of our focus is on the uncertainty we live in? We have the Care Team making calls, and members are calling each other, so what’s next? How do we go the step further?
  • Expanding Welcoming: This has been the most difficult to address, particularly when we don’t have a front door for people to walk through. Our Social Justice Circle is moving forward with opportunities to learn and discuss how we expand “we” – they are having monthly Movie and Discussion nights that I hope more of you check out.

Kristin Stevens, President

The President's Perspective -- April 2020

How is everyone adjusting? Although this time of social distancing and remote connection has been difficult, there have also been moments where we can see the future potential when we can be back together in person. One of the Board’s goals this year was to modernize Sunday services, and although we were looking into options and introducing the topic, none of us could have foreseen our current situation. And yet. Because we had been thinking about this, talking about this, and researching streaming our Sunday services, we were able to immediately go online a month ago. Our first few services were recorded live in the Sanctuary, just without the congregation physically present. By week three, however, the need to fully embody remote worship was present and even with a steep learning curve, we were able to hold Sunday services online through Zoom and Facebook. [To continue, click "Read More..."]

Summary of January's First Sunday Town Hall

Our January First Sunday Town Hall discussed our congregational goals of Spiritual Deepening, Modernizing Sundays, and Welcoming Renewal within the framework of congregational social justice. Thirty-three congregants attended and several topics emerged during the conversations: social justice as spiritual work, congregational engagement in social justice activities, community visibility of our social justice work, worship as a social justice opportunity, the Share the Plate program, Welcoming Congregations, and inclusive bathrooms.

For a summary of the meeting, please click the link below.

Download this file (2020 January Town Hall.pdf)2020 January Town Hall.pdf[ ]140 Kb
Summary of December's First Sunday Town Hall

On December 1st, the Board held its first “First Sunday Town Hall." Held immediately after service with a soup and bread lunch served by the Board, we had a total of 45* members, friends, and visitors stay and participate in our Town Hall discussion. We held a series of three discussions on the Board’s annual goals: focus on spiritual deepening within the congregation, including the creation of a pastoral care program; modernize Sunday services; and renewal of our Welcoming Congregation designation, including inclusive bathrooms. For a summary of these conversations, click on the link below.

Download this file (2019 December Town Hall Meeting.pdf)2019 December Town Hall Meeting.pdf[ ]173 Kb
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