June 2019 – From Your PresidentJune 1, 2019
UUCS is a very special place. For me, it represents a community of open-minded people with whom I can share ideas without worrying about a hostile response. Many people have found it to be the first place where they could openly display who they are, and be appreciated for it. And through Scott Neely’s Sunday meditations, we are shown that we each have strengths and capabilities that we might never have imagined. No wonder we choose to congregate here and share our time, talent, and treasures.
The affirmation we receive at UUCS creates a pitfall. It is similar to that faced by a couple in the wonderful throes of early love, wherein you feel one with your partner, and as if everything will naturally be wonderful into the future. Anyone who has had a long-term relationship knows that “what comes naturally” is woefully insufficient to make the relationship successful.
So it is with our beloved community. We have just had an incredibly successful year: inspiring Sunday services, increased membership, a vibrant RE program, the most successful pledge drive in UUCS history, numerous high-visibility social justice activities, and so forth. Yet painful and even damaging conflicts and misunderstandings still occur. I attribute this in part to the fact that because so many of us feel at home here, feel supported, empowered, “in love” with this place, we slip into doing “what comes naturally,” forgetting the hard work it takes to be in harmony with our family of a couple hundred people.
I attended the UUA leadership school two years ago. My strongest take-away was the fundamental role of Covenant in our faith, and its power as a blueprint for right relations. Here at UUCS, we recite our Covenant every Sunday, and it is the task of each of us to use it to instruct the way we live. Nothing in our Covenant is easy. It challenges us to: “Strive to become our better selves” by aspiring to things which we will never fully achieve; “Honor both the critical mind and the generous heart,” which means practicing conscious appreciation and patience as we work side by side with others possessing a diversity of personality types and natural skills; “Show that diversity need not mean divisiveness”, the first step in which is to realize that those around us may have very different life histories, life situations, levels of affluence, needs, strengths, sensitivities, and communication styles than oneself.
There is a phrase in relationship counseling: “Conflict is growth trying to happen.” Something we can each do when we sense a conflict is to question our part in it, and consider how we might be better in covenant.
In love and peace, Fred Stoll
April 2019 – From Your PresidentApril 1, 2019
Dear Members and Friends,
April will be an energetic month as we prepare to support the 4th annual Spartanburg Earth Day Festival which will take place on May 4. Please step forward for volunteer opportunities as we continue to build this regionally important event.
And take advantage of our new-this-year Countdown to Earth Day speaker series, to be held at the public library at 7 PM on Tuesday evenings of April 16, 23, and 30. Bring your kids for the April 23 event to see Prof. Jon Storm’s presentation on Nature In your Backyard. See posters at church for details.
We had a very successful Pledge Drive in February. When the results were tallied we had pledged $223,300 of our $225,000 goal for next fiscal year, over 99% to target, and ~$12,000 greater than our pledge level at the same time last year. This increase lets us continue fair compensation for our paid staff as we accommodate increases in membership and RE enrollment, expand our social justice work, and continue to pay off our mortgage.
This does not reflect approximately $12,000 we donated directly to social causes last year through our Share-The-Plate program. Nor does it reflect many hundreds of hours put in each year by volunteers to perform our ministries, keep our facility attractive and operational, and support administrative functions; through this volunteer work, we build community, and keep our costs down.
In love and peace, Fred Stoll
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