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Congregational Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 12:45 pm~ We hear an update on Great Expectation projects and on the search for the Director of Family Ministry and approve an operating budget for 2017. There is no Bylaw provision for absentee or proxy voting.

How are we doing? Several members, realizing the challenging financial year ahead, have increased their pledges for the Operating Budget in 2017.  Others are, thankfully, maintaining their commitment from an earlier year. Still others have expressed their intention to increase their giving at a later date. How are we doing? The answer is we have not achieved our pledge goal for 2017. We're about $20,000 short of our goal. Call a minister or call Allison at the office 926.2291 if you can raise your level of giving for 2017.  All gifts, regardless of amount, are important and meaningful.

 Educational-sabbatical leave~ I will be away from parish responsibilities from Feb 1 through July 31. (I plan, however, to attend the UUA General Assembly in New Orleans in June.)  In my absence the church is in good hands with Nathan Ryan, serving as Acting Ministry Team Leader and Diana Dorroh, as Executive Assistant.  Be assured that the three of us will be in contact with each other in the weeks ahead. They will know how to get in touch with me in the event of an institutional crisis or emergency. In our planning sessions for my leave, we have received commitments from as many as 6 UU colleagues to serve as pulpit guests. The Worship Guild is accepting extra responsibilities, also.

 A sabbatical is a mutual gift exchange between congregation and minister. A good sabbatical is one that is mutually rewarding to congregation and minister alike. May this be a growth experience for each of us, the results of which might be realized during my time away and after my return. 

 Reflections for 2017

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.                                        (Albert Einstein)

 The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past.                            (William Faulkner)

 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.              (George Santayana)

 I've got bad news for Mr. Santayana; we're doomed to repeat the past no matter what.   That's what it is to be alive.      (Kurt Vonnegut)

 In Genius,  a film about the relationship between Thomas Wolfe and his devoted editor Maxwell Perkins. On a train together, the two express their affection for Shakespeare and quote together Caliban's speech from The Tempest, after Caliban has been affected by Prospero's spell:        Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices, that, if I then had waked after long sleep will make me sleep again;                 

Why did Shakespeare place such poetry on the tongue of an antagonist?  Perhaps to show humanness? To demonstrate that beauty can emerge in a creature who otherwise demonstrates little cause for respect?  Is it a sign of the possibility of human transformation from the least likely? This year I shall carry these words in my wallet as a reminder that even the strangest of creatures can give us pause, if we but listen.  

Ponder these words. Keep them nearby.