Rev. Talk 9-30-2021

Once a month, Don Jones, chair of our Board of Trustees, will be guest columnist for Rev. Talk. Enjoy Don’s perspective! You can reach Don and the Board at board@firstuucolumbus.org.

On the first full day of Fall, when I donned my old leather jacket to walk through the sudden, crisp cold air, a flood of memories of Autumns past came back to me, particularly Fall Quarters as an undergrad at Ohio State (now about 30 years ago!). With the current state of the world as it is, a t-shirt I used to wear back then came into my remembering, its imagery an abstract depiction of a forest and a quote from Havelock Ellis: “The promised land always lies on the other side of the wilderness.” Judeo-Christian though the metaphor of this quote be, the idea of a period of trial or uncertainty through which we must travel before something different or better emerges is found often in myth and faith stories. I know for me, new beginnings, new promised lands, have often come with the Fall, whether it be through a new school year, a new house or job, or a new church year.

This year? Well, the way out of the wilderness still seems far off, though I think I see some glimmers of light over there (in-person worship and RE, Yay!)…either way, many of us are feeling traumatized, burnt out, exhausted, or simply in a state of existential ennui over the state of the world. The wilderness has weighed heavy on our souls, and even as we start to step out of the dark, we are marked by the journey we have been on. For me, community becomes so much more important in these times, people to be with us along the way through that wilderness, supporting each other with the one thing we all can agree on, with love, graciously offered and received.

It is in this time, that I as chair and we as a Board, are humbled and honored to serve you. As stewards of our church, we will strive to work in a way that is open and engaging as we all navigate re-opening and re-imagining who we are as a community, walking towards that promised land, the entrance to which is as much a start of something new as it is a passing from the wilderness.

To that end, your Board has developed ministerial and board goals as well as open questions that will help guide our and the ministerial team’s work this year.

Our first set of goals are those we ask our ministerial team to use to develop their Vision of Ministry for the year. For continuity in these difficult times, we decided to keep those goals relatively in line with those we had last year:

  • Increase visibility and engagement with the greater Columbus community (and beyond)

  • Maintain and increase engagement with our existing and potential members by broadening touch points

    • Subgoal: Enhance programming for high school/young adults with a focus on increasing participation and providing opportunities for mentorship

  • Nurture a culture of welcoming through a broad examination of our welcoming practices and how our spaces (virtual/physical) are configured

These were slightly updated to reflect that our touchpoints will be both online and in-person, and we added young adults to the subgoal around youth programming.

The Board also developed goals for itself:

  • Deeply engage on reopening and continuing to engage congregation during these times

  • Actively model positive communication by providing the congregation with opportunities to learn skills and engage in supportive dialogue around complex questions

  • Actively engage in formalizing and scaling processes, structures and resourcing around church finances to “right size” for our congregation and vision.

Reopening continues to be a primary focus since it is an ever evolving activity. The ability to have productive conversations as we continue to imagine the future are essential. And, the pandemic has made clear that bolstering our financial infrastructure and footing is essential for us to achieve the things we want to achieve.

Finally, we have identified two open questions that we will be engaging the community in conversation around, both of which point back to our goals:

  • How will we, as a congregation, recognize, welcome, and support diversity within and into our First UU community?

  • How shall we improve the financial stability and sustainability of First UU?

And on top of that, work around our strategic vision for the next five years, compensation equity and how we as a congregation can engage more deeply with anti-racism education and action is all ongoing and interrelated to these questions.

The wilderness is scary, and exhausting, but it does not go on forever. Eventually, the path becomes more clear, and while we will always remember what we have experienced along the way, survival eventually turns into the opportunity to thrive. As we continue to journey together towards our future together, I offer you grace, and ask grace for each other in return. For as Emily DeTar Birt wrote in her reflection “Necessary Mercies” in Shelter in This Place, Meditations on 2020:

We were made for grace. Not for perfectionism or productivity, but for wet cloths on fevered temples, for layered cakes, for the person who holds the door or pays for our groceries.

Grace is the only way we all get out alive.

Blessed be to you and yours,

Don Jones
Chair, Board of Trustees

WANTED

Sunday Readers

Inviting all who are interested in helping make Sunday mornings special. We need volunteers to help read and lead various elements of the service.

We are looking for readers of all ages, genders, races, orientations, and more.

Interested?

Come to a “Reading Info Session” THIS Sunday, Oct. 3rd at 11:30.

Games and Fun

Our First UU youth group had a wonderful game night. The weather was perfect and everyone was so  excited to be together.
Last Saturday, Dr. Kevin McGruder, Associate Professor of History at Antioch College was the quest for a virtual event, “How to be Antiracist in Ohio”. The program was free but free-will donations benefit the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Caucus being formed at First UU. (Donations will always be accepted.) The presentation was recorded and will be posted at some point in the future. Watch Justice News for more information and other events.

Baby Shower

Amanda, our First UU Justice Coordinator, and husband Jim Hays will soon be welcoming a baby into their lives. On Sunday after service, we hosted a baby shower in their honor. It was a perfect way to send Amanda off on parental leave as she and Jim enjoy their new family member (due soon).

Pastoral Ministry Update

The Board of Trustees has named a Search Group together to find a minister to help us with pastoral care leadership for the remainder of the church year. In the meantime, the Pastoral and Caring Teams are working hard on our behalf.  Rev. Marian will also offer pastoral care as needed. We are a caring community and so many people make this a reality. It is foundational to who we are as a community. If you need anything, let us know! We are here for you.

HEALTH NOTES

Make sure you have gotten your COVID vaccination.

Also,
Please get a FLU SHOT.

We inquired to see if First UU could be a flu vaccination site again this year. Due to the pandemic, the Health Department is not doing on-site clinics. Please use your provider or any of the other locations offering flu shots. Do all you can to stay healthy!

Email and text scam alert!

It happened again…

Rev. Marian’s email has been hacked. Scammers are sending emails to people in Rev. Marian’s address book using my name. The damsel begins by asking “Are you busy at the moment?”

Do NOT respond. This is a scam.

Please be careful and beware. Thanks.

Justice Corner

Amanda Hays, Justice Coordinator

For the latest in First UU Justice News, click the button below.

Justice Update

Upcoming Sunday Service at 10am

“The Darwin Variant”
Minister: Rev. Dr. Marian Stewart

What does “survival of the fittest” really mean? Is it about who is the strongest, brightest, fastest? Is it all about individual evolution? What was Darwin really writing about?

Joys and Sorrows

You may request that a Caring Card be sent on behalf of the congregation at https://firstuucolumbus.org/joys-sorrows-form/.

Caring Cards last Sunday:

  • Happy Birthday to Nancy Powlick who celebrated her 85th birthday on August 26.
  • Dana Reynolds is sad with the passing of my uncle, Tom Patton, in California last Sunday afternoon. He was 89 years old.

Joys and Sorrows are shared last Sunday:

  • Joys and Sorrows submitted during the service were not recorded.

May our hearts be enlarged to hold each other’s sorrow and joy.

Share-the-Plate

UU the VOTE 

Our Share-the-Plate recipient for October is Single Payer Action Network of Ohio (SPAN). The Single Payer Action Network of Ohio is a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals in Ohio seeking fundamental health care reform in our state and the nation at large so that every resident is guaranteed full and comprehensive coverage. This would be accomplished by using public funds, modelled on the Medicare system, to pay for services delivered by private entities. It would replace private Insurance companies which are required to return a profit to their investors, resulting in a large number of uninsured people, and high out of pocket costs for the rest. SPAN welcomes those who support these goals to participate in its public education programs and lobbying efforts to enact Medicare for All legislation in Ohio.

Alice Faryna will be available at the Justice Action Ministry (JAM) table to answer questions and describe recent action items to engage you.

Our donations have a bigger impact when we give together. Please go to www.firstuucolumbus.org/donate to support our church and our Share-the-Plate offerings.

Re-Opening Status

The Coordinating Team (CT) and the Re-opening Task Force work together each week to look the pandemic caseload numbers. We use the Risk Mitigation Chart the Re-opening Task Force built based on research, to base our decisions about building capacities for in-person services, meetings, and events. This week the Columbus Metro area is registering in the Very High red zone. You can view the chart and get more information by clicking this link to COVID Act Now.

Current status (updated weekly and posted in Rev. Talk):

  • Sunday services:
    • Single service at 10am
    • Live-streamed service via church Youtube channel (link will be sent prior to service)
    • In-person with limited capacity in the Sanctuary with overflow into Beach Hall (Note: both areas are now wired for audio and video. New T-loop system works in both areas and Slowter Lounge)
    • Masks and social-distancing required in the building at all times
  • Coffee Hour:
    • Outside weather permitting with BYO coffee/tea/etc.
    • No inside eating or drinking (masks on)
    • Zoom coffee hour continues for those attending online
  • RE:
    • Outside and Online RE
  • Classes, meetings, etc. (reserve space with Marian Garcia)
    • Varies by group, but generally,
      • outdoors or online only
  • Music
    • No indoor singing (high risk activity)
    • Choirs follow Brandon, Michaela, and Barb’s direction
  • Contract Tracing
    • All groups should keep a list of attendees for possible contact tracing if someone tests positive. Send the attendance lists to Marian Garcia in the office.
First UU Re-Opening Hub

Want to meet?
Outside is a great option.
Check our website for updated information, including a Pandemic Covenant, and space request forms.

Links

Live-stream @ 10am
(No passcode required)
Invite your friends and family. All are welcome.

Online Coffee Hour @ 11am
Passcode: uu
Join us in-person or online.
Bring your coffee, tea, or water and join us for post-service discussion with fellow First UUers. 

Calendar events, announcements, and updates can be accessed on our website.
www.firstuucolumbus.org