Minister's Musings
One Service Proposal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Kendra Ford   
Thursday, 05 June 2014 15:18

At the Annual meeting the Board proposed a budget that would have an $8,000 deficit, the smallest deficit in some time. Because the pledge drive has come in a little lower than expected, the Board decided they need to think in some different ways about what our expenses are. I reflected with them on our resources, our needs, and the tensions we are navigating, and it has been proposed that we have one Sunday morning worship service next year.

The proposal to go back to one service would reduce staff hours and costs. Choosing this change is somewhat disappointing, but I think there is some sound thinking in it and some beautiful opportunities. Of course, it creates a more sustainable financial picture which is a relief to many. If it is part of a plan for strategic planning and mission clarification, I think it could be used as a powerful starting point for deepening our congregation and continuing to become a stronger presence in the world. I think it also gives us some opportunities to dig into our deep purposes: to be a place where we can talk about anything, to makes sure each person here has a spiritual practice, to take collective action together, and to be a place of Ultimate hope.

The Board will make the final decision about whether to return to one service at their June 11th meeting and they will make the final changes to budget, likely reducing the Director of Religious Education to a 20 hour position and a few other small reductions.

The largest concern about going back to one service is that we might be starting a trend of shrinking, particularly if we reduce the Director of Religious Education to 20 hours. So we need to be curious and active about religious education for our young people. It’s important that we be very mindful and explicit about making sure there is space and invitation for newcomers and long-time members as well as people in wheelchairs and with other special needs. We can certainly do that, especially with our Welcoming Circle program. I am hopeful that our new Membership Coordinator will help us keep our eye on the things that help people, new and longer-term, stay connected, involved and participating.

Some of the reasons I think it will be useful to have just one service on Sunday are:

Maintaining volunteer staffing for two services has been a stress for the ushers, the musicians, and the RE teachers and volunteers. Relieving that stress would give us all more energy and time to do other things.

With three new staff members and everyone working smaller chunks of time I will be spending a lot of time on staff issues for at least the first 6 months of next year (through January). Any simplifying we can do will be useful; so one service will allow us to focus on getting our communications and expectation clear with our new staff people.

Religious Education has decided to take on an exciting new way of programing for our children (namely that there will be a variety of options for children to choose from each week organized around themes and religious experience). Not having to figure out RE for two services would be a relief to those planning. This is an experiment that was initiated because Laura noticed that RE attendance was dipping and had several conversations with people about why they (and mostly their children) were not attending. The program itself seemed to be uninspiring and children didn’t seem to feel connected. So we’re trying a program that emphasizes connections, playfulness, and experience rather than instruction. This new program will also need extra reflection time. This will take extra time from me as well.

Tony is leading the charge to do strategic planning next year (and likely into the following year since we’ll be collecting information for the first part of the year). I think that is good work for FUUSE right now. And to go back to one service in that context makes sense to me – pause, take a breath, make some decisions about who FUUSE wants to be in the world and what difference we want to make, and to whom. And then go down the path that gets chosen.

I look forward to year of more focus, intention, and connection. I am excited about the opportunities that are available to use with new configuration. Next week I’ll describe the new RE program and invite you to be involved.

Wishing you the best –

Kendra

At the Annual meeting the Board proposed a budget that would have an $8,000 deficit, the smallest deficit in some time. Because the pledge drive has come in a little lower than expected, the Board decided they need to think in some different ways about what our expenses are. I reflected with them on our resources, our needs, and the tensions we are navigating, and it has been proposed that we have one Sunday morning worship service next year.

The proposal to go back to one service would reduce staff hours and costs. Choosing this change is somewhat disappointing, but I think there is some sound thinking in it and some beautiful opportunities. Of course, it creates a more sustainable financial picture which is a relief to many. If it is part of a plan for strategic planning and mission clarification, I think it could be used as a powerful starting point for deepening our congregation and continuing to become a stronger presence in the world. I think it also gives us some opportunities to dig into our deep purposes: to be a place where we can talk about anything, to makes sure each person here has a spiritual practice, to take collective action together, and to be a place of Ultimate hope.

The Board will make the final decision about whether to return to one service at their June 11th meeting and they will make the final changes to budget, likely reducing the Director of Religious Education to a 20 hour position and a few other small reductions.

The largest concern about going back to one service is that we might be starting a trend of shrinking, particularly if we reduce the Director of Religious Education to 20 hours. So we need to be curious and active about religious education for our young people. It’s important that we be very mindful and explicit about making sure there is space and invitation for newcomers and long-time members as well as people in wheelchairs and with other special needs. We can certainly do that, especially with our Welcoming Circle program. I am hopeful that our new Membership Coordinator will help us keep our eye on the things that help people, new and longer-term, stay connected, involved and participating.

Some of the reasons I think it will be useful to have just one service on Sunday are:

Maintaining volunteer staffing for two services has been a stress for the ushers, the musicians, and the RE teachers and volunteers. Relieving that stress would give us all more energy and time to do other things.

With three new staff members and everyone working smaller chunks of time I will be spending a lot of time on staff issues for at least the first 6 months of next year (through January). Any simplifying we can do will be useful; so one service will allow us to focus on getting our communications and expectation clear with our new staff people.

Religious Education has decided to take on an exciting new way of programing for our children (namely that there will be a variety of options for children to choose from each week organized around themes and religious experience). Not having to figure out RE for two services would be a relief to those planning. This is an experiment that was initiated because Laura noticed that RE attendance was dipping and had several conversations with people about why they (and mostly their children) were not attending. The program itself seemed to be uninspiring and children didn’t seem to feel connected. So we’re trying a program that emphasizes connections, playfulness, and experience rather than instruction. This new program will also need extra reflection time. This will take extra time from me as well.

Tony is leading the charge to do strategic planning next year (and likely into the following year since we’ll be collecting information for the first part of the year). I think that is good work for FUUSE right now. And to go back to one service in that context makes sense to me – pause, take a breath, make some decisions about who FUUSE wants to be in the world and what difference we want to make, and to whom. And then go down the path that gets chosen.

I look forward to year of more focus, intention, and connection. I am excited about the opportunities that are available to use with new configuration. Next week I’ll describe the new RE program and invite you to be involved.

Wishing you the best –

Kendra

 
Arkell Reflections PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kendra Ford   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:10

My husband returned from a photography assignment on Thursday evening and he excitedly showed me his pictures, including of the entrance to the refurbished building he was photographing: a welcoming doorway, a nice new sign, the grass not grown in yet, all signs of possibility. And the flag out front at half mast.  We paused there for a moment and then he went on with describing the building and the community service organization it housed.

In the midst of this story of a helpful organization and a generously offered donation of a refurbishment, stood the quiet reminder of Officer Steve Arkell’s violent death.  And then Wednesday this week, I walked across our empty lot as the Memorial Service took place across town. It was a perfect May day, sunny, green, full of possibility.

It sounds like the Memorial emphasized how Steve Arkell lived – generously, open-heartedly, kindly.  I didn’t know Officer Arkell, and it was a relief to read about his living and the gifts he leaves behind no matter how his life ended. Because the way his life ended is so disturbing.  We’ll never fully know what happened that Monday in May when the son was yelling at his father and the neighbors called police, because the son is dead. It sounds like he was troubled enough that we might not know even if he was alive to talk with us. We are left with the sinking feeling that violence can break out anywhere. And it can.  And the scant reports of this son’s life sound like he, and his father had gotten very isolated. So, I ask you, in response to this tragedy -

Intrude on each other. Ask if everything is ok, risk being nosey. And I don’t mean talk about each other, I mean talk to each other. That’s the kind of thing that can save a life by getting someone help before it’s an absolute crisis.

If someone intrudes on you, try not to be embarrassed or upset. Take any help that’s offered you. It is good to be self-reliant. It is also good to be connected and interdependent. The more we are connected to each other, the more likely we can catch someone who is sinking into rage or illness. Our connections to each other are the best defense we have against violence and loss. Our only real security is in our relationships with each other. In the web of relationships we create. We see that in the Memorial for Steve Arkell, even in this terrible loss, his family, his fellow officers, his town, are held in a web of relationships from around the State.

On Memorial Day, soak up the possibilities of spring and honor your relationships with the dead and the living all around you.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:31
 
Milkweed and Monarchs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kendra Ford   
Thursday, 24 April 2014 07:10

Milkweed! We distributed milkweed seeds on Easter. (Look for small, colorful paper packets in vestibule if you didn’t get some and want some). You may just want to plant the seeds in your back yard after danger of frost has past or you could start them in your house now, they take a little while to germinate. You could plant them now in cardboard egg cartons in a sunny window sill, then you can plant each milkweed egg right in it’s cardboard to get it started outside.  Our young church participants are starting a butterfly garden with the milkweed seeds.  For more information about growing milkweed and about the Monarchs visit: http://www.livemonarch.com/ here is the beginning of their growing instructions page.

Please read this entire page to get all the important information you need about Milkweed. The seed we send to you can grow almost anywhere in North America. When you are ready to plant, place seeds 1/8 inch below the soil surface you can use a deep pot, since most milkweeds have a long roots. Don't plant the seeds too deep, because they need plenty of light and warmth to germinate and grow ( at 70 degrees within 14 days). Keep the seedlings moist for the first three weeks after they sprout, then transplant to larger containers with quality soil if necessary. You can lightly fertilize them lightly after the seedling stage, using a regular flower fertilizer. Cutting off the top of the plant after they reach 8-12" creates more stalks and more leaves. It takes about two months before the plant is large enough for caterpillars to eat. When the leaves have been eaten, simply cut the plant off about three inches above the soil or just above the lowest branching of the stalk and the plant will grow back fuller and create even more fod for Monarchs. Warning: one caterpillar will eat 20+ large leaves so make sure you have enough plants to support the number of caterpillars you have, or they will starve.

 


 


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