While we were celebrating Flower Communion, Christian churches across the world were telling the story of Pentecost.
Pentecost is an amazing, fantastical story where the people gather in one place (already, after this year, we realize the miracle in the story), and they each speak in their native language, which meant different languages from each other. And yet, somehow, when the others heard them, they heard them as if speaking in their native language.
In Pentecost, we have a vision for diverse communities: we can each show up fully as ourselves and be seen and understood even by those who are entirely different than we are. It’s a vision, but it’s rarely how we experience diversity. Instead, we tend to say we value diversity – the story of Flower Communion is a longstanding way we express this value – but then we turn around and mostly seek to emphasize our similarities.
I wanted to come back to this idea after our Congregational meeting this past Sunday because we were not unanimous in our voting, and this is both a great reminder and an opportunity. It’s a reminder that we don’t all think exactly the same about anything and that there are a minority of people who would go a whole different direction than you might’ve been considering. Therein lies the opportunity. There is a risk – and practice in our wider culture – that we would reduce one another to how we vote on any given thing or for any particular person. And so we have the opportunity to let this vote be an invitation for us to commit more fully to know one another, more fully listen to each other and the stories behind the stories, and to invite continued learning in ourselves and across our relationships. It is an opportunity to commit ourselves to agree in love, even when we disagree about what exactly love calls us to do (to paraphrase the Universalist minister Hosea Ballou).
I hope this idea doesn’t feel all that risky in our congregation. And that is a good thing because it gives us a chance to practice a commitment to one another’s full humanity and to keep challenging ourselves to see each other as more than our votes. So that as we practice this within our community, we begin to grow our capacity and our commitment to this practice beyond our community. And, as we practice, we remember what it takes to humanize each other in the days, weeks, and years after any given vote. It is a practice I believe is critical to our congregations, our democracy, and our life together on this planet. To allow each other and ourselves to be works-in-progress, for nuance to matter, and for us to speak in our own languages and yet hear and understand each other fully.
Rev. Gretchen Haley
Our fourth all-online congregational meeting this past weekend was very well attended – particularly for such a beautiful late-spring, late-pandemic Sunday! The Board of Trustees was grateful for such lively participation, with 121 folks in attendance, including 117 verified members.
We are thrilled to report that our congregation voted decisively to adopt the 8th Principle of UU values and guidance that was originally proposed by our fellow UUs of color, who are urging individual congregations and our larger faith movement to renew our commitment to creating an antiracist, anti-oppression, multicultural beloved community in our congregations, our communities, our country, and the world. With this adoption of an 8th principle, we are pledging to hold ourselves accountable to this commitment and to fulfill the potential of our first 7 principles for all people.
Our new 8th Principle states: We covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by building a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
The final tally for the 8th Principle adoption was 106 yeses and 3 noes. (There were three more yes votes, but we could not confirm the membership status of two based on their login information, and the third was from a non-member.)
The congregation also voted unanimously to approve a congregant-organized resolution in support of universal health care as a statement of moral conscience. The resolution stated:
“The Foothills Unitarian Church affirms it is a moral imperative and basic human right that all people have access to comprehensive healthcare, and we encourage the Larimer County Commissioners and other local governments to formally endorse and advocate for a not-for-profit, single-payer, universal healthcare such as Improved Medicare For All.”
The final vote tally for this resolution was 106 yes votes to 0 noes. (And two additional yes votes from unconfirmed members.)
The final vote of the meeting was to approve the slate of nominees for the 2021-22 church year, and it also passed resoundingly. I’m delighted to report that Richie Nelson has agreed to serve a 3-year term on the board of trustees as president-elect for the coming year. Linda Kothera and Walter Nash have also agreed to serve 3-year terms on the board as at-large members, and the congregation confirmed all of them with this vote.
In addition Ben Manvel, a true pillar of this congregation for many decades, and Christine Engelen, have also generously committed their time to the congregation and were voted into 3-year terms on the nominating committee.
(The nominating committee recommended, and the board concurred, that two openings on the endowment committee remain unfilled this year as there is currently no active work for the committee to do, with the endowment being invested in the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund and no disbursements being made from it, and because the endowment’s governance structure is expected to be realigned in next year’s Bylaws revision process.)
The final voting tally on the slate of candidates was 105 yeses and 2 noes. (And 4 additional yes votes from unconfirmed members.)
The board of trustees is so excited for the church year to come and is deeply grateful to the incoming slate of lay leaders who will keep this congregation running creatively, smoothly, effectively, and oriented always towards our mission.
In faith and courageous love,
President, Board of Trustees