Board President’s Update: Looking Ahead to 2018-19

We have reached that portion of the summer when the sanctuary has reached its steamiest and we move at a somewhat more relaxed pace as we transition from our 151st church year into our 152nd.

We have officially said goodbye to our outgoing Board members, Sherry Griswold and Tom McKenna; officers Jeremy Holmes (Secretary) and Past President Eileen McCully Hsi. Treasurer Matt Smith is taking a much deserved break from the role (but not from the Board) and Meg Pauken is moving into the role of Past President.

I gave each of the outgoing members a handmade plaque featuring an abstract chalice design in maple and walnut. Here’s the cool part of the story. The artist, named Catherine, when she saw my address, dropped me a note saying that she graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1995 and attended First U as a youth. I mentioned this to Deb and Ken Kheum and they came up with a few possibilities. It turns out that they were right: the artist went by Catherine Farmer when she attended First U. She was involved in painting the Senior High room and she shared a couple of pictures with me from the project.

I mention this because sometimes we wonder how much of an impact we have in RE (or, for those of us who are or were teachers, in the regular classroom). It’s nice to discover that something we did made an impression.

Joining the Board for the 2018-19 church year are Carol Gay, Bob Horan, Mani Pierce, and Wayne Jennings. In addition to me, your officers are Vice President Erika Brown, Treasurer Shane Millette, Assistant Treasurer Don Stimpert, and Secretary Carol Gay.

There are 3 areas that we are choosing to focus our energy on this year: 1) the Reunification with Society, 2) the implementation of the Racial Justice Proposal from the Anti-Racism Task Force, and 3) increasing our internal and external visibility.

You will continue to hear about the Reunification process through regular reports from our team, through Meg Pauken. The teams met on June 10 following our joint service and picnic at Horseshoe Lake with Society to plan the next steps in the negotiation process. They have set a series of meetings through the end of September to work out details.

The Anti-Racism Task Force has been meeting since January to come up with a plan for helping our congregation learn about, discuss, and take action to recognize, address, and reduce white supremacy and racism within our congregation and in our community. This work will be integrated into our programming for the 2018-19 church year. You can read more about it here:

Finally, I want to help make First U more visible. Part of it has to do with what I wrote about last month: changing how we think about the first pillar of membership, “Show Up.” But it also has to do with how we are seen in the community. We made great strides this summer: Parade the Circle, Cleveland Pride, and more. We’re a significant part of Greater Cleveland Congregations. We’ve decided to hang a “Families Belong Together” banner to support the reunification of immigrant families.

This church year, like every church year, looks to be busy, productive, and fulfilling. And, like every year, there will be surprises (such as the recent break-in). But we will continue to rally, to show up, to give of our time and resources to make First U a better place for all of us. That’s what we do. And I’m grateful for that.

I was the Board President of the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland from June 2018-February, 2019 when First Unitarian reunified with the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland and formed the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland. I became the first President of new congregation, with a term of February 2019-June 2020. This essay originally appeared in the congregation’s monthly newsletter.

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