by Karen Marcus, Foothills Blogger
Many who started attending Foothills after the 2016 election have found reasons to stay.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election was shocking for many people — locally, nationally, and globally. Those who were confused, frightened, or angered by its outcome sought comfort, guidance, community, and hope. In and around Fort Collins, Foothills provided those things, and more.
Chris Guppy and her family started attending services at Foothills in December 2016. She says, “After the election we felt desolate, lonely, and helpless. We, as a family, needed community support.” They found it at Foothills, and continued coming to services because, says Guppy, “the sermons made me cry.” In addition, they enjoyed the presence of other young families, and Guppy’s son Jack “loved the ceiling fans in the sanctuary and kept asking to go back.”
Guppy and her husband, Brian, became members in early 2017, and joined a Gather Group. She teaches RE, and has volunteered for the welcome kiosk and the mobile food pantry. Now, Guppy wants to continue working with youth and to teach meditation techniques to both children and adults. She comments, “We continue to be amazed and thankful for such thoughtful and good-spirited church leadership.”
Erin Purdy is also very appreciative of Foothills. She notes, “We love the positive atmosphere, the rich and honest conversation, the social justice orientation, and the open-minded teaching, both for adults and in the RE classes. We’ve stayed because we feel at home and that we can explore our spirituality in an intellectually honest and deeply loving way.”
While the election got Purdy and her family into Foothills, she had been attracted to it for some time. She had a UU friend who often talked about her positive experiences, and she knew she wanted to check it out every time she drove by.
Now a member, Purdy and her family attend services regularly, and she teaches RE classes and brings meals to people who need them. “I think we’ll continue to come as a family,” she says. “I just love Foothills and am deeply grateful for everyone and everything there.”
The Sunday following the 2016 election marked the first time Sandy Brooks attended a service at Foothills. “I needed a family,” she remarks. “I had a couple of friends who were members, and I always noticed their enthusiasm when they talked about what their church was doing. I did some research online and decided it was the church I wanted to attend that day.” Brooks walked away from that service feeling like she had found exactly what she needed. Shortly thereafter, she became a member.
Brooks was active in the Sanctuary while Foothills provided housing to Ingrid and her children before their move to the Unitarian church in Boulder. She says, “Instead of thinking I was giving, I knew that what I received was much more.” She has also worked as a welcome kiosk attendant, a greeter, and an usher. As she reflects on her time at Foothills, Brooks wonders, as a Christian, if Foothills is the right church for her. But, she realizes that its main teaching is significant: “Courageous Love has new meaning for me.”
Mark Benjamin also started attending Foothills around the time of the 2016 election, though not necessarily because of it. He explains, “My 16-year old son moved in with me that November. Just before then, he came out to me as transgender, so I looked for churches that would support that.” He also wanted to find a community that “spoke to him.” Foothills offered the inclusiveness and acceptance he sought. Benjamin was involved in the Sanctuary movement; he worked with Gretchen to plan the space and ensure it was done legally.
Now living in Greeley, he’s not as involved as he would like to be, but “still loves going to Foothills.” As a result of his experience there, he feels happier and hopes he can return to being more involved.
Raised UU, Kathy Krisko moved to Fort Collins in the 80s and attended Foothills a few times then. She moved away for her career, but returned in 2014 and started coming to services irregularly in 2015. Then, when the 2016 election occurred, she says, “I felt the need to be in the presence of people who shared at least some of my opinions and concerns. I knew I could connect with other Unitarians, so I began attending services more regularly and became a member.”
Krisko says she’s continued because “it’s a time I can stop myself, sit down, and just listen.” While she doesn’t agree with everything she hears, she feels that Unitarianism is close to what she believes. In addition to attending services, she participates in Tai Chi Chih, a Gather Group, and concerts, and plans to engage in other activities as opportunities arise.
Foothills also holds special meaning for Page Frick, who loves being a part of the community. “After attending since November 2017, it feels like home to me,” she states. Prior to visiting, Frick had admired Foothills for its inclusiveness and commitment to making a difference in the local and global community. She says, “Like so many others, the 2016 election rocked my world. I needed a sane place, a respite, where people held similar views to mine.”
Frick used the opportunity to refocus on her ongoing goals of spiritual growth and giving back. She has attended Base Camp, joined a Gather Group, and volunteered as an usher. She plans to become a member in the near future, and to explore new spiritual practices. She comments, “Foothills comforts me and inspires me to grow as a person. I’m especially grateful for the efforts of Sean and Gretchen and members of the congregation to promote true connection and belonging among people.”
Thanks to everyone mentioned for your heartfelt remarks, and for the “piece of the truth” you bring to the Foothills community.