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Board of Trustees for July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017
John Murley, President
Donna Buckley, Vice President
John Burroughs, Past President
Andrea Dale, Secretary (shared position)
Heather Wasco, Secretary (shared position)
Members at Large
Rev. Bill Gupton
Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church
May 22, 2016
It is my pleasure this afternoon to report on the many fine accomplishments of this wonderful congregation during the past church year. Earlier, during our worship service, you saw a photo presentation of numerous pictures taken throughout the year, showing just some of the many faces, of all ages, who make up our Heritage Church family.
That community is now comprised of 166 adult church members, scores of children and youth, and a couple dozen more regular non-member participants. We are now, in fact, as large as Heritage Church has ever been; one must go back to the days when we were known as First Universalist to find as large a church community as we have now. This should be a matter of pride for us. People continue to find us (though we could still do a better job, as I preached this morning, of letting ourselves be known around Cincinnati) – and when they do, they like us enough to join our ranks. Earlier this month 10 new members joined HUUC. For the church year, a total of 19 adults have become new members of our church family.
In January, we celebrated a significant milestone with the “burning of our mortgage,” marking the final payment on the short-term, five-year loan that allowed us to put in a new kitchen, remodel our sanctuary (including a new sound system and video projector), install a new electronic sign on Newtown Road, add P.A. capability in the Great Hall, upgrade carpets and paint jobs – and more. Thanks to your generous support of our first capital campaign in more than a generation, we paid off the loan in two and a half years, thus cutting our interest payments considerably, and even retained seed money for the next capital campaign.
This year, we also increased by 50 percent the amount of staff time allotted to our growing Religious Education program. In January we moved Rev. Leslie Woodward to 3/4-time as our Assistant Minister for Religious Education, reflecting many new families who have come into the church, and the changing needs of families in the 21st century.
Also reflecting the changing times, we are (literally, today) in the midst of a major process of revision to our church constitution. Meanwhile, our volunteer structure has begun to evolve; we have done away with several “committees,” replacing them with “teams,” “task forces,” “working groups” and other models of collaboration. The important work of the church continues to occur, but with far fewer meetings and minutiae.
A good example is our move from having a “Social Action Committee” to a “Social Justice Collaborative.” We have done important justice work, from Habitat for Humanity, to Inter Parish Ministry, to Interfaith Hospitality Network, to the League for Animal Welfare, and many more – with minimal meetings and more social action. Perhaps our most visible focus this past year has been on working for racial justice. Given the events in Ferguson, Mo., Charleston, S.C., and even right here in Cincinnati with the killing of Samuel DuBose, our work in this area could not be more timely – or more necessary. During the year, we offered public screenings of films such as “Slavery by Another Name” and “Awakening Our Awareness of Whiteness.” We offered workshops and discussion groups, actively supported and participated in community events, rallies, and meetings – and throughout it all made intentional efforts to learn how we can be better allies to African-Americans, and the Black Lives Matter movement in particular, as they continue to seek justice in our communities.
In August I returned from my second sabbatical enthused and energized, ready to bring what I had learned both about natural (aka “green”) burial and about UU spiritual direction into our congregational life. I issued a call for those who were interested in joining small, four-person Spirit in Life groups – and was amazed at the response. Twenty-four people signed up, and 22 of them have completed the year, meeting together monthly in transformative, spiritually-focused groups that have deepened folks’ spiritual lives, as well as their connections to one another. As I have told several people already, I believe the Spirit in Life groups were my greatest success this year, and I look forward to starting new groups come September.
I have also put in place – with the blessing of the Board of Trustees – a new End-of-Life Ministry program that is designed to help this compassionate church community aid and accompany those who are dying (and their loved ones) to and beyond the final transition that each of us must one day make. I have been heartened and inspired by how many folks have volunteered to be part of our End-of-Life Ministry, ranging from green burial advocates to medical practitioners to lawyers to hospice workers to “home/church funeral” volunteers.
I attended the National Home Funeral Alliance biennial meeting and seminar in California in October, after learning all I could about green burial during my sabbatical. Throughout the year I have been asked to give presentations on green burials and home funerals to groups ranging from Imago, to the Funeral Consumers Alliance, to UU congregations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. I have led Death Cafés, both at Heritage Church and in the Cincinnati community. We have offered workshops (including a recent one led by palliative care nurse Jenn Hester) and shown films about end-of-life issues.
This year, spirituality really became a more-than-Sunday experience at Heritage. In addition to six Spirit in Life groups, other activities have become traditional: monthly vespers services, the Women’s Spirituality Group, and more.
We have also had fun – and raised funds. We’ve enjoyed musical performances and the Auction, caroling parties and karaoke. We have had family movie nights and grown-up movie nights. There have been game nights and take-apart parties. We have enjoyed two wonderful Get Acquainted Dinners for newcomers, and the popular return of the Heritage Seder Dinner (attended by an overflow crowd in the Great Hall last month). We celebrated the 90th birthday of Bob Connelly. We were privileged to be loaned the official UUA chalice for use on our altar on Sunday, November 22.
We opened our doors to a variety of outside groups, including rentals like regular (three days a week) tae kwan do. We hosted summer activity camps and, in the dead of winter, AARP Tax Aide services. We offered IPM cooking classes. For the first time in recent memory, an AA group is meeting weekly in our church.
We also continue to be engaged denominationally. Some of our members are not with us today because they are in attendance at the annual Universalist Convocation, taking place this year in Ohio, at the historic Marietta Universalist Church. Even more of us will be away next month as the UUA General Assembly comes to our state capitol in Columbus.
It is an exciting time to be a Unitarian Universalist, and to be that special kind of Universalist who calls Heritage UU Church home. I continue to be amazed by this congregation, and grateful to be your minister.
Respectfully submitted in the Love that is the spirit of this church,
Rev. Bill Gupton
Perhaps you have heard our minister, Rev. Bill Gupton, talking about natural or “green” burial, and about the positive effects on land conservation and environmental stewardship such traditional practices can have. Looking ahead to the possibility of creating a natural burial ground for Heritage Church members and friends, and possibly for the wider community, Rev. Bill has begun searching for an appropriate parcel or parcels of land in the vicinity (that is, the general Tri-State area) – land that would serve well both as a conservation land trust, and a natural burial sanctuary.
Do you have some acreage you’d consider donating to the church? Do you know of someone who has land for sale, or who is interested in environmental stewardship, who might want to protect their land from development? Have you heard about or run across a nice-looking piece of land that is for sale within, say, a 25-mile radius of church?
If so, or if you want to be part of a team that is forming to find such land and begin the process of creating a protected land trust for “green burial” and ecological preservation, please contact Rev. Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-633-8703.
It’s easy …
Bring in gently used high quality clothing, household items, and furniture to Sequel’s Consignment in the Crossings of Anderson (corner of Beechmont & Eight Mile) for the Heritage Church account. We will net 50% of any sale.
Sell unwanted furniture and other items on Craig’s List or e-Bay. Donate the proceeds to the church. Unfamiliar with these online sale sites? Contact Peg Fay-Feder who will list your items for you on Craig’s List. eBay is another option for you to use.
And don’t forget …
Not signing up for the Kroger Community Awards program is like throwing a Sunday’s collection plate away. Sign up today and name Heritage Church for your community award dollars. You can get step-by-step instructions for signing up.
The popular green mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has “recycle” as the final step. There are many green mantras; ‘reduce, renew, recover, reuse, recycle. They all CONCLUDE with recycle. Most of the recycled waste we produce at Heritage comes from SINGLE USE PLASTICS like large drink containers, plastic covers for pies, cakes, veggie trays and cold cuts. These are certainly recyclable, but contribute heavily to the waste stream at Heritage and further up the cycle. Heritage has the largest recycle bin that Rumpke offers and most weeks it is overflowing. Many weeks these single use plastics blow out into the parking lot and yard. There are many ways to reduce and reuse at home and at Heritage. Consider making iced tea from real tea or drinks from a concentrate. A last resort would be to take your single use plastics home with you.
Please label food that you place in the refrigerators and freezer. If there is no label we will all assume that it is available for any group to use or take home. You can avoid disappointing your group by clearly labeling your items. There are labels and markers conveniently located inside the refrigerator. There are many ways to contribute at a potluck or food event that go beyond simply sharing food. You might see if the trash or recycling needs to be taken out. The white plastic bag that lines the kitchen recycling bin stays in the kitchen, DO NOT PUT IT INTO THE LARGE GREEN BIN OUTSIDE. Feel free to wash a few dishes or load up a dishwasher. Tag-team dish washing works well at Heritage. Consider helping to set up/take down the tables and chairs, put food and beverages out, remove serving dishes once they are empty, sweep the floor, take home the napkins/towels to wash, fold and return the next week, etc. PLEASE LEAVE THE KITCHEN CLEANER THAN YOU FOUND IT!
All the drawers and cabinets are labeled with the contents.
Recyclables go in the trash cabinet by the back door.
Trash bags are located in the cabinet under the first /rinsing sink.
Take out the trash and/or recycling. If garbage sits for a few days it begins to smell. Rotting garbage is not a welcoming smell for renters and potential renters! When you put recyclables in the outside bin, do not include the trash bag with the recycling.
Dish towels and wash cloths are located in the drawers left of the refrigerator and in the bottom drawer beside the window sink.
We do NOT have a garbage disposal, so dishes must be scraped and rinsed before loading in to the dishwasher.
Place all dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Empty the dish drainer that is on top of the counter. You are responsible for washing all the dirty items and returning them to their storage places. All the cabinets have labels, it is easy to find out where the items belong.
When operating the dishwasher, the “start” button MUST be pressed before the cycle will begin. It must also be pressed again if the dishwasher door is opened mid-cycle, for the cycle to resume. Dishwasher soap is located in the cabinet between the dishwashers.
It is essential to label and date any food you put in the refrigerator. All food brought in for your event must be disposed of or go home with you! Do not expect that someone else will use your food or dispose of your leftovers.
Please use care when removing the plastic covers for the dish and glass carts. They can be neatly folded and stored on top of the refrigerator. Please cover the carts at the end of your event.
Both refrigerator doors must be pushed closed to assure closure.
ALWAYS use a cutting board when cutting. They are located in the cabinet to the left of the ovens.
Wipe off and dry all granite counters when you are finished. We were lucky to find granite that was affordable. We’d like to keep it nice for as long as possible.
Make sure that all burners and ovens are turned to the OFF position.
Take home the napkins, towels and or tablecloths to wash, fold and return promptly.
Please leave the kitchen cleaner than you found it!
If you forget any of these tips, there is a handy reminder on the island! We hope everyone enjoys working and even cleaning up in our beautiful kitchen!
The speaker system does more than just amplify the sermon for people sitting in church. Need to work in the kitchen while there is something going on in the sanctuary? Wear the earbuds. Want to be with your child in the nursery, but want to hear the sermon? Wear the earbuds. Want to work in RE, but keep track of what is happening in the service? Wear the earbuds. The only glitch is that we all need to put our cell phones in airplane mode to reduce interference. Our system is wonderful and we can thank the technology committee for their hard work in providing us with such a valuable tool.
… for involvement in the Kroger Community Rewards Program. This program of the Kroger Company provides the church with money based upon your Kroger purchases, and it doesn’t cost you or the church anything extra. This money is a meaningful part of our budget every year. So please sign up!
Kroger Community Rewards must be renewed each year. For most (if not all) Heritage folks who linked their Kroger Plus Card to Heritage in the past, that link will expire in April! In other words, if you currently have an active Kroger Plus Card linked to Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church and you have not renewed it online, then this month (May) the church will stop getting your “contributions.” There should be a message at the bottom of your checkout receipt that looks similar to the one shown here, but it will say something to the effect of “Your community rewards contribution to Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church will expire on April 30, 2016.” Please do renew!
The church website has detailed steps for signing up.
Questions? Contact Bill Gupton for more information.