A Letter From Our Minister
June 30th brings to a close our thirtieth congregational year and with it, a torrent of gratitude in my heart for each of you, and for the beautiful souls who began this great adventure in the mountains we call GMUUC those thirty years ago.
As Gayle shared during our annual meeting on Sunday, we had a tremendous pledge drive this year- $192k+, a mere 6 or 7 thousand dollars away from our STRETCH goal of $200k! This is incredible and allows us the flexibility to pour our resources into serving our mission in broader and deeper ways. Thank you to each of you who donated your treasure to our operating fund, and to the ministerial sustainability fund. When I think of how generous this congregation has been, especially over the past 4 years, I am floored.
Few people really enjoy asking for money or being asked for money, but the total number reflects so much more than just the money itself (though of course we need it to operate!). Each dollar is a representation of your faith. You have such faith in what this community can do, such a strong belief in its purpose in your life and the lives of others. You have faith in the values and principles of Unitarian Universalism. You have faith that the leadership of this congregation will be transparent, ethical, and forthright in using your funds to meet our mission. Thank you for believing in us. When I rewrote the introduction to our offertory time during worship, I would have never guessed how magnificently you all would live into it- embracing the sense of abundance and of spiritual growth and practice in your generosity. It has truly been beautiful to witness.
But we also know that it takes a lot more than money to make this place operational. The volunteer hours from this year alone are mind blowing. I have rarely experienced a day since moving into the new building where we did not have at least one, more likely three or four, volunteers busy executing a task at the same time. Every single day. Some of you put in 40+ hours of volunteer work in- week after week- during our construction project. Whether you are singing in our choir, mowing the grass, or organizing our library- your time, talent, and energy were deeply appreciated. My greatest hope is that you felt appreciated and spiritually nurtured in return.
I shared a list of gratitude during our annual meeting and I want to share it here again. This list is incomplete. It will always be missing names because each and every one of you has contributed in one way or another in making GMUUC what it is. I hope you will join me in thanking them for their contributions to our community.
Kathy Manzella- You and your sister-in-law Roberta have run the GMUUC booth at the antique mall for three years! You have raised thousands of dollars for GMUUC during that time. Additionally, some of you may not know this, but Kathy has been an incredible support to the families of the several members who have passed away this year by walking them through how to prepare estates, sell their homes, and find new ones. This may seem irrelevant to what we do here at GMUUC but I want you to imagine for a moment how overwhelming that process is for families and how incredible it is to have someone who knew and cared for your loved one help walk you through it. I want to say a GREAT BIG thank you to you and Roberta for running the antique mall and for the MANY ways you give back to our congregation and community.
Lark Hutto- For your beautiful donation of flowers each and every week. They brighten our space and our day up. Lark has brought flowers every Sunday for as long as I can remember (and I have been here for ten years!). It, along with her voice, is her ministry to this congregation and we so appreciate it.
Gayle Gannaway and Denise Miles- Gayle and Denise ran our plant sale and the stewardship campaign. And Denise comes in every week for the last year (and many before that!) to work on our accounting materials alongside Suzanne Autumn, who we thank as well. It is hard to imagine where we would be without these incredible ladies. I know the staff greatly appreciates Denise keeping us up to date on any changes to our benefits!
Frank Youngblood- Frank has been the Building Our Future Finance Chair for several years now and has done some tremendous heavy lifting by guiding us through our financial transitions and chairing the committee updating our bylaws. Thank you Frank for your steadfast leadership and for living into the faith and trust we place into your hands!
Stacy Kottman, Robin Kottman, and Joel Kottman- This family is at the church nearly every day. Whether it is installing, updating or tweaking the audio/visual equipment, meeting contractors, reviewing minute details in contracts, mopping the floors, or hauling tables and chairs around- if there is a problem YO they’ll solve it! Thank you for your tireless, and I do mean TIRELESS work for GMUUC. We appreciate you three.
Leads and Chairs of Committees and Teams- please stand up. Your service to GMUUC cannot be overstated. It has been a joy working beside you through the last year. For those of you stepping away from the leadership role, know that your contributions have been meaningful and memorable. We look forward to seeing what parts of being in community calls to you next. And for those of you stepping into leadership roles, welcome and thank you! Know that you are surrounded by a plethora of helpful and knowledgeable people who are eager to support you. You need only reach out.
Mary D, Gayle and Yamo- These are our three landscaping goddesses. Quite the holy trinity. Thank you for your vision and your follow through. Because of you, in a few short years we will have gone from a completely blank piece of property to a diverse, healthy, and beautifully landscaped lawn. Will anyone who has helped to mow, weed, water, plant, dig, haul, donate plants, or in any way helped to beautify our outdoor space- please raise your hand. It takes a village! Thank you, thank you for your support in this initiative. We are already enjoying the fruits of your labors and I know we will for many, many years to come.
Thank you to our Board of Trustees for a remarkable year full of important discussions and high-stakes decisions. This board has shown up diligently and thoughtfully for this congregation over and over again always thinking of the long term health of the community. Thank you especially to Nancy Hunt, our outgoing president, who not only brought us our strategic plan but has guided us to heed it each step of the way. Thank you Nancy and thank you to our Board of Trustees.
And to our staff. Roy, Chelsea, and Donna- I join the congregation in sharing my sincere appreciation for your time and devotion to this organization and the many ways you go above and beyond to ensure a smooth operation, outstanding services, and care for all. Thank you for the many ways you make this a place we want to worship, volunteer, and work.
And lastly, please know that any of the plethora of ways you show up and contribute- time, talent, and treasure, never go unnoticed. They are essential to the ongoing operations of this organization and without you, all of this would not matter. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do.
Your grateful minister,