Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


Church Board Letter about Financial Challenge!

This letter arrived in the email in-boxes of members and friends and, for those who don’t use email, in US Mail boxes a few weeks ago.  I am so grateful for the leadership of our Board of Trustees and the loyalty and spirit of our congregation!  Don’t miss the May 19 congregational meeting!

Dear Fellow Members and Friends,

What a year this has been. We’ve had great challenges and great successes. We’re transitioning smoothly toward Doug’s retirement, and have adequately funded the first phase of our building project because of your amazing generosity.  However, the building funding and our annual operating budget are two completely different items.  Funds for the building project are totally separate from our yearly budget, and, unfortunately, this year our pledges for next year’s expenses are significantly down.  We need one more success.

Right now,  we have pledges amounting to about $411,000 for the 2013-2014 year, which is about $50,000 less than what we pledged for the 2012/13 year.  That is a huge difference, and it will affect all of our staff and programs.  In addition to the pledge income being down, allowing our building project to move forward means that we will lose income from some of our investments and from the duplexes. We will also lose rental income from the main hall during the construction process.

The Board has already taken steps to curb our expenses for our next fiscal year.  We are now working with a budget that will cut our ministerial staff to 1.5 ministers instead of the two ministers that we have enjoyed for many years. We are also looking at additional options to reduce staffing, such as cuts to custodial and other staff hours, and possible cuts to the present music program, including having an accompanist only occasionally.  Not funding our UUA/PCD dues fully is also under consideration.  These are drastic measures that would have long-range effects.

So, we have some hard choices to make. Having less ministerial presence and support will affect all programs offered at UUSS. Reducing staff would have a similar effect. Not paying our UUA & PCD dues would leave us without denominational support in this time of great change. We would cheat ourselves and our denomination.

Here are two possible ways that you can help:

  • Please think of these cuts and reconsider your current pledge to UUSS. If you feel that you are in a position to dig more deeply, please increase your pledge.
  • Give a one-time additional donation to supplement your pledge.

If either of these options works for you, please contact our Bookkeeper, …..

or speak to any Board member.

As always, thank you for being a member of our UUSS community. You are our most valuable asset and together we will successfully solve this problem.

Janet Lopes

President, Board of Trustees

PS from Rev. Roger:  To download or look at the Pledge Commitment Form for the 2013-14 budget year (which is what Janet is writing about), click here.

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A Handful of Rice Or Learning to Ride a Bicycle — Sunday, March 17, 2013– Pledge Drive Touchdown Sunday

UU Society of Sacramento, CA.  Given by the Rev. Vail Weller, Guest Preacher, Special Assistant to the President for Major Gifts, Unitarian Universalist Association.

The bike I choose for my daughter’s 6th birthday is purple and glittery with butterflies on it. I sort of wish that mine looked like that, but in any case. She has outgrown her older bike, it was time for a new one, and so I pick out this purple glittery bike and present it to her on her birthday. She is very excited to receive it…that is, until we go outside the next day to go for a ride. That’s when she discovers it is bigger…much bigger than her old one was. She is afraid. “I don’t want to ride it. I don’t want to ride!” We reassure her that riding it is the same as riding her old one, and that this one is better suited to her size. After all, she has grown and is now a big girl, and this is a big person’s bike. “I don’t want to. I don’t think I can!” But we reassure her, and remind her she already knows how to ride. She is very leery, but with wide eyes, she gets on and wobbles into a starting position.

At first, we guide her, walking beside her with a hand on her back to help her feel our presence and to know she is not alone. And so she rides. Nervously. But she rides. Then, life gets a bit busy, and we don’t go out on the bike again for quite a while.

Many weeks pass. A beautiful day dawns. I suggest a ride. She is as nervous as if she had never ridden the big bike before. I remind her of how big she has gotten, and assure her that it will be even easier this time. She moans. She groans. But all the while she is getting on her jacket and making her way out to the bike. She does really want to try again. She does really want to ride.

And it’s like magic. She *has* grown, remarkably. She *does* remember how to ride it, and much better than before. She rides along, now bravely turning and even going down hills. She is beaming brightly, sooo proud, feeling her own growth and maturity.

There is no way to learn how to ride a bike other than to do it. Reading the owner’s manual will not teach you how to ride. You just have to climb on and try. You will likely fall a few times when you are new at it, and it is tempting to give up at that stage. But if you persevere, you will be rewarded by actually learning to ride the bike.

There is a joke told about Unitarian Universalists – perhaps you have heard it. Outside the pearly gates, there are two signs. One says “heaven” and points that way, and the other says “discussion about heaven” and points the other way. The joke is that the Unitarian Universalists will choose the discussion of heaven rather than the real thing, every time.

This joke really does point to something true about us! We like to think about ideas. We like to learn. We like to discuss (and it’s true, we even like to debate). But the point of the religious life is not to learn about being kind; it is to BE kind. The point of the religious life is not to intellectually consider theories of love; it is to BE loving.

The point of the religious life is not to read about being generous; it is to BE generous. But, like riding a bicycle, we cannot read a manual and “get it” – in other words, we don’t learn to be generous by learning about it in theory. We learn how to be generous by doing it, in practice. The only way to “get it” is to do it, to be generous.

How is it that we, who have so much, can act as if we have so little when it comes to giving? We live in a culture, of course, which tells us that we can never have enough. That we can never KEEP enough. But the goal of religious life, as all of the sages have told us through history, is to experience an unclenching of the fist, an unlocking of the heart, an opening of the hand, to share. There are many ways to practice the art of generosity.

Be generous with your attention. If you are busy making dinner and your child is trying to talk with you, pause from the cooking and turn to your child as if they are the most important person in the world and listen for 3 minutes. Or when you are standing in the airport, put down your phone, and look around you. Make contact with the real live human beings all around you. Give the gift of your presence.

Be generous with your spirit. When the temptation arises to be angry, or stay angry, with a co-worker, a friend, or a family member, experiment with stepping out of the emotional stream. Cultivate a sense of compassion for them, and for yourself. You are both sacred beings, sometimes wounded, but always precious. Gift the gift of softening your own heart.

Give the gift of your money. I invite you to do something uncharacteristically generous this week. If you go out for lunch after church on your way home, leave an extra-generous tip. The point of this experiment is to do much more than you would ordinarily. See how it feels. Buy a co-worker’s lunch. Pay for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop and leave without them knowing you did so. Again, give with a level of uncharacteristic abundance. See how it feels.

Find ways to practice the art of generosity. These are practices which will nourish your spirit. The poet Maya Angelou says, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

In Northeastern India, we have a huge number of Unitarian churches. In this very humble setting, they have found a way to support the church financially that is quite inspiring. Before cooking each meal, a handful of rice is put aside. At the end of each month, a representative from the Unitarian Women’s group visits each Unitarian home, and collects the gathered rice, which is then sold.

(75% of the money from the rice collected goes to support the local church, and 25% to support the national Unitarian body, the equivalent of the Unitarian Universalist Association.) If each household had been asked for money, they would have struggled. Yet we all have something to give. Carley Lyngdoh, the (former) General Secretary of the Unitarian Union NE India says: “Even the poorest families feel proud that they [can] offer something out of their daily food to the works of God.”

The villagers in North Eastern India surely don’t have much disposable income. They have far, far less than we do, of that I am sure.

And yet, even in the most humble of circumstances, they take a scoop of rice out first, before feeding their own family, to support the faith movement that has enriched their lives. “Even the poorest families feel proud that they [can] offer something out of their daily food to the works of God.” Can you even imagine giving that generously? I am still working with this one. Recently, I had cause to stop and think about it, and I realized that I have never felt my heart so opened that I have given from the core of my being, and not just from the cream on top, and I am the poorer for it. I think we have a lot to learn from the level of generosity practiced by our Unitarian friends in NE India.

(An aside: Did you know that statistically speaking, Unitarian Universalists are the second-highest earning religious group? That is statistically, now. And do you know where we fall compared to other religious folks in terms of our giving to support our own faith? Want to guess? DEAD LAST. We can do better. We must do better.)

When I served as parish minister in San Mateo, California, we had a partner church in the Philippines, and I was fortunate enough to travel there to visit.

You can’t imagine a more rural setting. In the village, there is no running water, no electricity, no passable road. There are no diapers for babies. I also visited the Unitarian Universalist congregation that meets in the slum area of Manila. The setting there is anything but rural, but the poverty is just as extreme. When I met with both of these groups to worship, we sang Spirit of Life, listened to prayers and a sermon, and when the time came for the offering to be taken, every person present put money in the plate. Every person! I wondered what they were doing without in order to support the church. And I also realized how much it meant to them to be able to give. They gave joyfully, and proudly.  Giving is part of the way they express their faithfulness, open-heartedly enriching the spiritual community that nourishes them.

Theologically, the Unitarian Universalist church of the Philippines brings freedom in an overwhelmingly catholic culture. Our Universalist strain which historically emphasized the love of God is mostly what I heard preached on in the Philippines.

I understand that living in a harsh reality with the constant presence of violence and poverty must make the presence of a loving god extraordinarily welcome. The local church also provides learning for their children, character education in the form of teachings based on our principles, and food. The church in our village runs a meal program, which ensures that the people in the village – not just the church families but all families – eat a nutritious hot meal once a week. Their bodies and spirits are nourished, and they give of their abundance, truly generously. Our Unitarian Universalist friends in the Philippines are great teachers for us.

My colleague Rev. David Usher told me about when he was sent by the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists to visit with the UU group in Kenya, Africa.

(When a group somewhere in the world discovers Unitarian Universalism, and goes far enough into our tradition to want to actually affiliate and call itself Unitarian Universalist, the ICUU sends someone to meet with them, to help them with leadership development, get to know them, and generally help them to learn more about what it means to be Unitarian Universalist.)

These folks discovered our faith within the last four or five years. They were nearly all unemployed or just scraping by. They are on fire about Unitarian Universalism! They are so excited that they are free to believe what they believe, and not be told what they have to believe. They can be fully who they are. It is life-giving, life-affirming, live-saving for them. They are on fire! They want everyone in Africa to know about this faith they have found, and they are doing their best to spread it, as evangelism comes naturally to them and (again) is culturally expected. In Kenya, religion is central to the culture.

It is core to their identity as Unitarian Universalists to do for others. They run schools, orphanages, cottage industries of all kinds, micro-lending groups. Again, let me repeat, they are all nearly unemployed or just barely scraping by. And these justice and outreach efforts are not “in addition” to whatever else they do, it is absolutely core to their identity.

Rev. Usher confessed to me that he felt embarrassed when they had asked him how many members he had in his local church, how many social justice projects they ran, how much money they gave to the local church – not because his congregation wasn’t doing anything, but they were much much larger than the Kenya group, and their tangible service to the world didn’t hold a candle to what the Kenyan Unitarians were accomplishing. He came home from that trip realizing that while ICUU had sent him to help the Kenyans learn more about what it meant to be Unitarian Universalist, they had actually been the ones who had been teaching him. (I love stories like that, when our expectations are turned on their heads.) The Unitarian Universalists in Kenya are great teachers for us.

David Bumbaugh is Professor of Ministry at Meadville Lombard Theological School and Minister Emeritus, the Unitarian Church in Summit, NJ, and he writes about the invitation that Martin Luther King, Junior had sent out to clergy, asking them to come to Selma, Alabama to help with voting rights.

“I did not for a moment believe he meant me,” Bumbaugh writes.

It never occurred to me that an invitation to the clergy to come to Selma meant me, too. I did not go.

Then came the terrible news that James Reeb, one of our Unitarian Universalist ministers who did respond to that call, had been clubbed to death in the streets of Selma. Another call went out—this time from the Unitarian Universalist Association, urging as many ministers as possible to go to Alabama for the last stages of the march from Selma to Montgomery. I read the call, but once more, it never occurred to me that I was included.

The next Sunday, as I was about to enter the sanctuary, two members of my congregation stopped me and asked if I was going to Alabama. I must have looked very confused. I explained that we had a small child and another child on the way, and I really did not have the money to spend on a plane ticket, and…. They interrupted my ramblings to say, “We have the plane ticket; will you use it?” And suddenly I knew that all the sermons I had ever preached, and all the sermons I would ever preach, would be hollow and empty unless I walked through the door they had just opened for me. And so I went to Alabama.[1]

Isn’t it true that we live like this, so often? While hearing the latest news about global warming, we think to ourselves, “Someone should do something about that!” When we are reminded of an injustice, we think, “Someone should do something about that!” When pledge season rolls around and we hear that the church is asking for generous support, we think, “Yes. Yes!” But I am not sure that our agreement always translates into our own generous giving.

My ministry now focuses on Stewardship and Development. I travel around the country and meet with generous, committed Unitarian Universalists to help their dreams come true.

When people have resources to give, and they care a great deal about our faith, they WANT to use their money to support their highest values. People assume this is unpleasant work. Nothing could be further from the truth! I have found that people love to give to something that they care a lot about. When pledge time rolls around, we are invited to give out of our core, to reflect on how central the community is in our lives. Then we are asked to stretch – to be truly generous – to pledge from the heart, to match the place the church and the faith have in our lives.

It is not a coincidence that I am involved in stewardship ministry and I have also done a lot of international work. Meeting fellow Unitarian Universalists from around the world – from Transylvania in Eastern Europe, from the Khasi Hills of India, from England and Germany and Africa, from the slums of Manila in the Philippines – meeting fellow UUs from around the world has taught me first-hand just how much we have to give.

My international work inspires me to experiment with greater generosity in my own life, and to preach and teach about stewardship in this context, which is in a culture that tells us over and over again that we don’t have enough, we can never have enough, we can’t possibly have enough, yet finds us easily adopting the latest technology, traveling regularly, purchasing many things without a second thought, barely registering the level of abundance that we are blessed with.

The wisdom traditions throughout time have taught us that being generous, truly madly deeply generous, is a fundamental aspect of nourishing the spirit. “Giving liberates the soul of the giver,” the poet says.

And so, I invite you to try it. I am not inviting you to talk about it, or read about it, or even to do a lot of thinking about it. I am inviting you to be generous. And like the call to Selma that David Bumbaugh didn’t think was for him, let me be clear: I am talking to YOU. To ME. To US.

For the sake of people we have never seen, will never meet, and can only imagine: we must strengthen Unitarian Universalism, to help heal this hurting world. We must do this! The stakes are very high.

There is no way to learn how to ride a bicycle without just getting on it and starting to ride. No matter your circumstances, it is possible to scoop out a handful of rice. Just try it, and see how you begin to see the world, and your own life, differently. I close with the words of Rebecca Parker, president of Starr King School for the Ministry.

Your gifts

whatever you discover them to be

can be used to bless or curse the world.

The mind’s power,

The strength of the hands,

The reaches of the heart,

the gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting.

Any of these can serve to feed the hungry

bind up wounds,

welcome the stranger,

praise what is sacred,

do the work of justice

or offer love.

Any of these can draw down the prison door

hoard bread,

abandon the poor,

obscure what is holy,

comply with injustice

or withhold love.

 

 You must answer this question:

What will you do with your gifts?

Choose to bless the world.

Friends, your lives are a blessing.

This community is a blessing in your lives.

Your gifts, generously given, serve this community

which in turn helps to transform the world.

Choose to bless the world.

Get on that bike and ride!

Amen!

Let us sing together hymn #151 – I Wish I Knew How.


[1] From “Cherish the Dream” available online at http://www.questformeaning.org/page/reflecting/how-do-i-live-a-good-life



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