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President's Column

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It’s a new year and there’s a lot to say. I’ll start with the Town Hall report. 

1) On 11/19/17 we held a Town Hall. 41 people attended; 5 groups of 8 discussed: 

What is our brand? How do we wish to be known by others in our city? Here briefly are some of your answers. There is a list after each item which we will include when we post the full summary on the Board bulletin board: 

1. We are known for action. We show up. 

2. Our values can be confusing but they are there. 

3. Our strength is in our programming. It’s a positive brand and why people come. 

4. There were lots of ideas for action – reach out. 

5. We have our challenging issues, issues that need work and clarification. 

We will use what you said in crafting our next Annual Vision of Ministry. Already the Communications task force has finished a detailed draft of a plan. Thank you Donna Yelverton, Sally Wood, Susan Beversluis. More to follow. 

2) Congregational Meeting January 28, 2018, 12:45pm. Everyone is welcome and a light lunch will be served. Members, please plan to attend. The agenda will include the 2018 budget; Request to advance funds for the Sanctuary Improvement projects and Green for Green landscaping projects. Both are necessary to continue our work and a quorum of members is needed to vote on them. 

3) Ideally we want to deliberate together face to face, but that may not be possible for some. We want to make this church accessible. As I mentioned in the column last month, we will explore absentee voting for those physically unable to be there. 

If that’s you, get a partner who can attend and who will communicate electronically with you during the meeting - let’s do an unofficial trial run.

4) Because both voting and money can get complicated, we are offering 4 informal discussion sessions about what will be covered in the meeting. Get your coffee and come join us in the office after each service on January 14 and 21.

5) And about those challenging issues that need work and clarification (#5 under Town Hall)... I am reading Roz Chast’s ( for more information) wonderful graphic memoir about her stubborn parents getting older titled Can’t we talk about something more PLEASANT?

It’s sad and funny and makes me think about my own father. There are lots of “somethings” that are hard to talk about. Here’s one list: loss, aging, failure, anger, race, fear, confusion, feelings of creeping incompetence and incapacity, sex, gender, neediness, money, loneliness, abortion, unwanted obligations, suicide, greed, depression. As I read my list out loud before the board meeting started last night, Steve said…many of those are dealt with in Branches. I know most are discussed in some venue or another at church. Years ago Steve taught a theology class I attended. He wanted to talk about death and memorial services. I really didn’t want to at all. Three weeks after the class ended my 69-year-old mother died unexpectedly and those discussions transformed my reaction to her death. I hope for all of you that these discussions, hard and challenging though they may be, will serve you as well as that one served me.