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A SHARED MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & SENIOR MINISTER: The Annual Pledge Drive Kickoff!

FEBRUARY 3, 2015

Dear Members and Friends,

UUSS IS AT ONE OF THE SHINING MOMENTS OF ITS HISTORY RIGHT NOW.

• We’ve added 50 new members since May. Worship is deep, joyful and lively. Our Greeters welcome new visitors every Sunday—even at our temporary home.

• Our dynamic duo of ministers has yielded new surprises in our worship and programs. We can build on this progress by fully funding Rev. Lucy’s position at UUSS.

• Our music program is blossoming now, with a growing choir and amazing duets and soloists. Next year, we strive to fund a Choir Director position once again.

• The new Spiritual Deepening Circles have 100 participants. Adult Enrichment has brought more than 125 people together. Theater One has staged a great variety of plays—more now than last year, when we had a full stage and auditorium!

Religious Education volunteers and staff give generously of their talents and love to our children and youth. We seek to support UUSS families even better.

• Our talented staff works together with high spirits to support the congregation in pursuit of our UUSS mission: we come together to deepen our lives and be a force for healing in the world.

• Our Earth Justice Ministry, Kids Freedom Club, and other social-action groups have brought people together to learn, organize, serve and give of themselves.

Our pledges of monetary support make it all possible. Starting Sunday, February 8, members and friends will make pledges to the operating fund for the 2015-16 year.

Funding our UUSS goals for success in the new budget year calls for an average pledge increase of 10%. We know that hardship has affected some of our households, so we also appreciate that many others will stretch in order to make an increase larger than 10%.

In shared commitment, both of us will increase our household pledges to UUSS.
Your pledge is your decision. Pledges of all sizes are valued and appreciated.

What we ask is your generosity.

Generous giving makes possible so much within and beyond our congregation. Thank you.

We can keep this congregation shining in the coming year. Let it shine!

Yours in service,

Roger Jones, Senior Minister, and Linda Clear, Board President

PS—Please read the Pledge Form for 2015-16. Fill out your Pledge Form and bring it to the next Sunday service or mail it to the office at 2425 Sierra Blvd., Sacramento 95825.  Your monthly pledge of support will keep UUSS thriving… from month to month, from year to year, and from generation to generation. Thank you!



What’s this pledging stuff all about?—Brief explanation of the annual pledge drive

Sustaining Our Vision–From Year to Year and From Generation to Generation!

Every winter a volunteer team invites other members and friends of the congregation to make pledges of support for the coming church budget year (2013-14).  Our church budget year starts July 1.  This happens every year at this time so the Board of Trustees can reliably develop a budget for income and expenses for the budget year (fiscal year).

All our pledge commitments for the coming year are crucial for this planning process.  Our yearly operating fund’s budget depends overwhelmingly on pledge contributions from members and pledging friends.

The operating budget includes compensation and benefits for all our ministerial, administrative, custodial, education, and music staff music.  It funds our utility payments, building and grounds upkeep and maintenance, supplies, refreshments, security, online maintenance, and our dues to the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Every pledge is important.  Please bring your 2013-14 Pledge Form to UUSS so our budget will be accurate–and happy.  If you have already turned it in, thank you!

If you don’t plan to make a pledge for the coming church year, just fill out $0.00 on the pledge form.  That will save our volunteers the task of making a reminder phone call.  If you do plan to make a pledge now for the coming budget year, please know that every pledge is important.

Pledge Visits--Anyone may request a visit by a trained Stewardship Team pledge visitor—in your home or at a café.  In addition, we will contact a limited number of Members and Friends for in-home visits for this year’s pledge drive.  We try to reach out to some portion of the congregation every year to connect, hear feedback, and relay questions to lay leaders, ministers and our staff.  This year of big changes surely has many of us thinking deeply about UUSS.  If you would like to request a visit by one of our Pledge Visitors, let us know stewardship@uuss.orx

For inspiration regarding our theme and the fiscal year to come, read below for testimonials given at recent services by dads, moms and youth in our congregation.

  I loved all of them!



Charlotte’s Pledge Drive Testimonial at UUSS– from the March 10, 2013 service

CHARLOTTE IS A TEENAGER IN OUR YOUTH GROUP AND IS ACTIVE IN RETREATS AT OTHER UU CHURCHES.  

SHE GAVE THIS TESTIMONIAL TODAY FOR THE PLEDGE DRIVE FOR THE 2013-14 FISCAL YEAR.  

HER DADS ARE BOTH ON THE PLEDGE DRIVE STEWARDSHIP TEAM.

I have been at UUSS since before I was born.

When I was a baby, I was welcomed into this world by the congregation right up here where I am standing today. There I was given a flower and the promise of a spiritual home to grow up in. I was too young to remember this, and I can’t actually recall my first memory of UUSS because this community has simply always been for me.

When I was toddler, I would go to childcare and there I made one of my earliest friends. Together we explored the congregation and grew. We would run through the field and walked back as far as we could along the creek in what seemed a stirring and courageous endeavor at the time. The simple land of this society gave me adventures. Then with holidays, the fun would really begin here.

On Christmas, I had the promise of a gift hand delivered from Santa and lots of sugar. Probably way more than my parent s would have preferred. With school came religious education, which was very fun to me. When I look back, I feel they actually tricked me into learning things, because I was certainly never aware of any lectures or homework. Separate from Sunday activities, this congregation has given me and other youth unforgettable experiences by hosting events such as MUUGS, Youth “CONS”, and Coming of Age retreats. For those who don’t know, these three to four day retreats are profound and memorable. When this church hosts, it is at its own expense. The church isn’t being paid, and yet UUSS still allows hoards of teenagers to stay on its campus. It is all thanks to your contributions that other youth and I have been privy to these opportunities for spiritual growth.

However, this is also about what you can get from this community.

You can get a family if that is what you want, because this congregation is very loving and accepting. You can get thought provoking sermons, or participate in one of the church’s many groups to gain further spiritual growth.

Alternatively, maybe it is too early in the morning for you to want either of those and all you want is coffee. Well, you can have that here as well and be getting all the rest.

But especially in today’s society, everything takes money. Your contributions and pledges can help support this community currently and ensure its existence in the future. I hope UUSS is able to continue to give to the future generations as it has given to me.



New UUSS Family Pledge Drive Testimonial from February 24 service–Sustaining Our Vision From Year to Year, From Generation to Generation

Every Sunday during the pledge drive we have been hearing what this UU community means to people, and why they support it with their financial pledge.  Our pledge drive ends soon.  So far we have received 98 pledge forms for the 2013-14 fiscal year.  Only 300 to go!!

This is from Amanda, a mother of two little ones who is new here and already on the Religious Education Committee.  Her husband, Darrel, has been here on Saturdays working on the grounds of our church campus.  Their kids are quite charming too.  You can tell that the words she quotes are from a few decades back, as now our baby dedication ceremonies use gender-inclusive language, but clearly the sentiment and heart were there in 1979.

Testimonial
It was a cold morning in March in the year 1979. The place, My Grandfather‘s “old” Unitarian Church on North Broadway, New York. The minister spoke, “When one baby is born it is the symbol of all birth and all life, and therefore all men must rejoice and smile, and all men, must lose there hearts to a child.” The words spoken and heard there were the words that have traveled with me in the depth of my heart wherever I have gone. This was my dedication ceremony at two months old, as a Unitarian.

Given that I was dedicated as a baby in the church, one might assume I have been in a Unitarian congregation throughout my life. But the truth is the furthest thing from that. I cant say for sure, but I am pretty sure I hadn’t stepped foot into another Unitarian Church until I arrived here at UUSS. This isn’t to say I wasn’t involved in any religious movement at all throughout my life. We regularly visited the Self Realization Fellowship, the church of Science of Mind, and whatever other alternative form of seeking my family interested themselves in.

But here I am back where I began. It was about a year ago, after a major move here to Sacramento, I found myself wondering about reconnecting to these roots. I was a transplant. My roots were in major need of some good wholesomely rich natural nutrients to grab a hold of. So, I returned.

In my dedication ceremony the minister said, “In the church the child will be introduced to his world, there he will learn meanings men has found in the skies, the fields, the hills, the valleys, and the cities of men. There he will be able to count the number of his days and weigh their meaning, to gather into his mind the wisdom of his ancestors, to know why men call one thing right and another wrong, to treasure beauty, mercy and justice in the deep places of his being.”

I am a mother now. I have been given two amazing children to guide and help grow. But I believe children are guided not only by their parents but by the people surrounding them; their friends, their family, their neighbors, and their elders. What the Unitarian Universalists are and are not, what they stand for or against, what they consider, what they notice, what they act on or not at all, is what I want my children to grow up around.

And I don’t want to stop there. What I want for my children, is what I want for all children. I want all children to grow up learning how to stand up tall. I want all children to grow up learning how to use their minds. I want all children to grow up knowing they can make a difference. This is why I think it is important for this congregation to stay strong, keep growing, and be the force for healing in the world it already is for many generations to come.



Inspiring UU Family Testimonial for the Stewardship Pledge Drive: Sustaining our Vision from Year to Year and from Generation to Generation

Sustaining Our Vision:  From Year to Year and From Generation to Generation.  

Good Morning, my name is Chris, this is my wife, Tamara, and our son Nicholas.  We’ve  been members here for a little over a year now. Shortly before joining UUSS, we moved to Sacramento from Massachusetts, the birthplace of Unitarian Universalism in this country. It was in Massachusetts that we first learned about this unique spiritual community. From what we read on the web, the values and principles of UU’ism aligned closely with our own, so we promptly joined a local congregation.

Each town around where we lived had its own small congregation so there couldn’t have been more than 50 of us on a busy day. Services were held in an old historic church with a tall white steeple typical of every New England town. The building belonged to the congregation but had deteriorated over the years from lack of maintenance. The paint was pealing off the walls and the steeple leaked in several places. The cost just to maintain the building was beyond the resources of our small congregation, so repairing it was not an option. Instead, we had the steeple removed and a cap placed over hole left in the roof. As a result, the building stood out like a sore thumb next to Baptist and Episcopalian churches across the way.

You can imagine our surprise visiting this place for the first time. We couldn’t believe how many members there were and how peaceful the campus was with its large oak trees. Attending Sunday services in this place helps us connect with a spiritual community and re-energizes our souls.  After our experience in Massachusetts, we appreciate what it takes to create and maintain this special, nurturing environment, both today and for tomorrow. As our covenant emphasizes, it requires a commitment of time, talent, and support.

We support UUSS in this pledge drive because we understand the importance of investing in the things we value most. UUSS, through its activities both here on campus as well as in the broader community, represents our values. As busy working parents, financial support of UUSS is an important piece of our family’s time, talents, and support.  We view our pledge as an investment in the future, for ourselves and Nicholas, to help realize the world we envision and strive for.  Thank you.



UU Teenager’s testimonial during church for the 2013-14 Pledge Drive: Sustaining Our Vision: From Year to Year and From Generation to Generation

A young woman from our UU Youth Group delivered this testimonial on Sunday at both services.  The congregation was quite responsive!  I look forward to the Pledge Drive Kickoff this Sunday, Feb. 17.  I also look forward to training our Pledge Visitors this Saturday (for those who would like a home visit to give feedback and make a more personal connection to UUSS).  Enjoy…

Why should the UUSS community be around for future generations?

I know a lot of people who have been coming to UU churches since before they were born. They have always been familiar and comfortable with their church. Or there are people on the other end of the spectrum, who hadn’t started coming to this church until they were well into adulthood.

           Neither of these were true of me. I think most of the people here come to church willingly. I can see why. We are what I would consider the ideal church. But I did not come to church willingly by any means for a long time.

When I was younger, my mom would decide my brothers and I were inadequately holy, and pick a church at random that we would attend for about a month. Then she would have a disagreement with somebody or be offended by something the minister said and we would never go there again. I grew to despise churches. I did not like how looked down upon questioning that which was preached was. I did not like being compared to a lamb because lambs are invariably dumb. I did not like the painful christian rock that was played before or after church, even though the musician had a cool beard. I did not like that God’s love or a vast eternal plan we weren’t allowed to know about could explain away every mystery in this world. And I certainly did not like that the minister referred to the children as “cherubs”. I knew I was anything but a cherub, and I was convinced my little brother was a little ball of evil.

In hindsight this church was not that bad. It was open-minded, as churches go, and not everyone considered original thought slanderous. The minister was well intended. But the assumptions and stereotypes had solidified in my mind, and to me church had become nothing more than getting up way too early on a weekend to go listen to people I don’t like talk about things I neither cared about nor believed in. I had lost any interest I’d previously had in learning about other people’s beliefs or culture.

My mom has since given up on making me go to any church. It helped that I no longer stay at her house on weekends.

    When my dad announced that we were going to church, I was horrified. He was supposed to be the sane one. And what person who wasn’t crazy would want to go to church? I fought this new, alien hexagonal church with my entire being. The people here only want to tell me what to think and what kinds of people are okay and all about this great God and how much he loved me and wanted the best for me and whatnot and about how those other churches who were saying the same thing were utterly wrong.

I didn’t want to hear any other opinions about this church. I would not hear it. I had developed the same blind insistence that what I believed in was all there is that had made me so intolerant of religion in the first place.
But slowly I began to warm up to this new church. It wasn’t like the others. I was never told where we came from or what entity was out there or what happens before or after this life. Those were all questions for me to determine the answers to. This church had values, not strict beliefs, and I recognised after reciting them for a few months how much I agreed with them. They seemed like perfect ideals. There was no judgement of those who strayed from our moral views. There was no judgement, period. We were welcoming, and open. Recognising the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Who needs a heaven when you’ve got that?
I know there are a fair number of people who don’t like churches for the same reasons I had. And church isn’t right for everyone. But there will always be people who question. There will always be people who traditional religions don’t approve of. But if there is always a church like ours available, there will always be an option for these people.
A lot of what we preach isn’t contradictory to what is preached in other churches. But what I like most about us is that big questions are left to the individual to answer, because everyone has their own truth or lack thereof, and a right to decide what that is. It’s okay to believe the same things as other people, but it should also be okay not to.
And our values are that of acceptance. Everyone deserves to be accepted in a community, regardless of who they happen to be or what they happen to be like. The people in unitarian churches are, as a group, incredibly accepting. Everyone is welcome. That is amazing. I would previously have thought it unachievable.
And UUSS is the biggest UU church in the area. It has amazing ministers and youth leaders and coffee people. It is an incredible community as a whole. There are few people who would not fit in among us.
That is why UUSS needs to stick around and grow. Future generations will inevitably be in need of a church like this, and they deserve to have it available. Thank you.



Pledge Drive Kickoff: Church President’s Letter to Congregation — What’s Coming Up!

Sustaining Our Vision:  From Year to Year and From Generation to Generation

Dear Members and Friends,

Each year at this time, we ask you to start thinking about our upcoming fiscal year, 2013 –2014, which begins on July 1. Our Stewardship Team coordinates the Pledge Drive and has already been hard at work planning special events to bring to mind and celebrate all the things we enjoy and count on here at UUSS.

The Pledge Drive is critical for planning the coming fiscal year because it allows us to put together our operating budget. This insures that such things as programs, ministers and staff compensation, facilities and grounds upkeep, utilities, and UUA dues are paid for. Your yearly pledge is essential in supporting our efforts as a congregation to fulfill our mission and values.

The first event coming up is Kick Off Sunday, February 17. This officially starts the Pledge Drive and is your opportunity to meet your Stewardship Team at tables on the patio or in the sanctuary after both services. They will give you your pledge form, your last year’s pledge information, and a “fair share” information sheet. We encourage you to fill out your form and turn it back into a Team member at that time.

If you are unable to pick up your pledge form on February 17, it will be mailed to you on February 21. At each Sunday after the Kick Off, your Stewardship Team will be available to accept your completed pledge form.

February 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. an Appreciation Pep Rally is planned. This is a family fun night with refreshments, inspirational words, and entertainment, including a chance to express your love for and dedication to UUSS by “cheering” with our fellow UU’s. We will be happy to accept your pledge at this time, too!

Finally, you don’t want to miss Touchdown Sunday on March 17, which will be the conclusion of our Pledge Drive special activities. A guest minister will give the sermon, we will hear a solo from our own Eric Stetson in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and refreshments will be served after each service. We are hoping to have all of the congregation’s pledges turned in, on or before, this Touchdown Sunday.

I’d like to thank Lauren and Chuck Todd for chairing this year’s Pledge Drive, as well as the Stewardship Team; Patti Nogales, Jorge Jimenez, Ron Selge, Linda Clear, JoLane Blaylock, and our Stewardship minister, Roger Jones.

Janet Lopes,

UUSS Board President

January 25, 2013