Musings

The first weeks of our new President’s administration have been a whirlwind.  Many of us are feeling afraid, confused, and uncertain about the future.  It is hard to get on with our daily lives as we listen to the latest news and worry how it will affect us and those we love.  We’re anxious and want to respond in a meaningful way.

Here is where a religious community in general, and our church, UUI, in particular, come in.  The way I see it, we need now more than ever a place where we can ask the big questions; a place where we can articulate and examine our values; a place where we can find companions in being accountable to our highest selves.  UUI is this place.  Worship on Sunday mornings brings us into each other’s presence.  We sing, we hug, we listen, we learn.  We reconnect with each other and to the core of our beings.  We pause and ask ourselves, how do I go forward this coming week? Am I faithfully living my core values?

We are anxious to learn, to understand, and to be transformed.  Through book discussion groups, Chalice Circles, the choir, Knitters group, Credo Forum, and many other opportunities, we can bring our whole selves and open up to new ideas and ways of being.  Pub Theology and Big Questions Forum, Parents of Preschoolers, Our Whole Lives classes, and every Sunday school class offer us ways to identify what is important, and to gain strength for living a life of love and service.  We find our personal paths and share the ups and downs in a community of learners and seekers.

Real life and real injustices are all around, and our religious community provides ways to serve directly.  We can also harness our efforts to those of others to have more impact.  We can come together to advocate policy changes, and to create webs that build powerful voices.  We can use these communities based in moral values to reframe the conversation and to push for culture shifts.  We can be cheered by the knowledge that together, we can make change.  Look at all the passionate people at UUI marching, writing letters, standing vigil, tutoring, organizing…. 

Finally, our religious community is there to support us in our journeys — when we are demoralized, scared, hopeless, hurt.  We minister to each other, listen to the hard stuff, wipe the tears, mourn the losses, and celebrate the successes.  In our community, we find the strength we need to keep on.  Come join us!  We need each other!  We need you!

Looking for A Sign….

Signs seem to be a theme at the moment at UUI.  There are a lot of them lately, and I think that is significant.  Signs show us the way.  They point out what is important.  They help us name things and to know their purposes.  They help us become familiar with a place and to feel at home.

Everywhere I look, I see literal and figurative signs of our thriving community and the wonderful things going on.  Have you noticed the “Memorial Garden” and the “Labyrinth” signs letting newcomers and regulars alike know what these special places are on our grounds?  Now everyone will be able to enjoy these spaces and to understand their purposes.

I noticed the new low-flow toilets in the Cottage restrooms.  Yes, these are also signs! They demonstrate UUI’s commitment to sustainability and the dedication of the volunteers who installed them.

Have you seen the bee hive on the west fence line?  Visible from many of the Sanctuary windows, it reminds me of the School for Community Learning which fills our buildings and grounds with creative energy during the week.  The students installed the hive as a sign of their commitment to pollinators and to learning about our natural world.  Their classrooms in the RE building and Commons are full of other signs of the learning and community building occurring there.

I am also struck by the crowd of young children streaming out of our Sanctuary under the Rainbow canopy every Sunday on their way to RE classes.  This too is a sign—UUI is growing!  Our commitment to the children and youth continues to attract young families and we are truly energized by their numbers.

What signs have you seen?  I would love to hear what you have noticed.  Come join us at church!

Year-End Report 2015-16

This has been an exciting year at UUI! We started the 2015-16 church/school year with a new full-time Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Susanne Hinson-Rieger, and it has been non-stop since! The Second Sundays program has been a wonderful addition to our programing. We have enjoyed sharing a meal and then participating in Youth groups, workshops, music making, and lots of fun as well as learning. Participation has been as high as 80 people of all ages! Susanne has re-energized the children and youth religious education programs, and each week, dedicated and enthusiastic teachers connect with our young people to learn and grow together. Adult programing has provided learning on racial justice issues, vegetarian eating, Big Questions, becoming a member, Mooncrafting, pagan rituals, and the monthly Forum.

Sunday Services have continued to be the highlight of the week. Worship Leader Jamie Hinson-Rieger has helped us celebrate what is “of worth” in our faith and our community. The music, art on the walls, the readings, and sermons have delighted us all, and attracted many visitors. We are looking forward to another great year under Jamie’s leadership.

Our facilities and grounds are looking great! Thank you to everyone who contributed towards the purchase of new carpet in the Sanctuary! This was the crowning touch to the renovations completed last year, and makes UUI a more attractive place. We look forward to the Social Hall Banners which are being created this summer. Attention has turned to the grounds, and lots of rejuvenation has started in the Memorial Garden, Labyrinth, fence lines, and trees. We are implementing a more environmentally sensitive approach to lawn care, and establishing prairie grasses and a bee hive (thanks, School for Community Learning!). Best of all, we have a part-time Facilities Caretaker hired to help with fixing things and keeping our facilities in good shape.

Our congregation is thriving—many new folks have jumped into community life at UUI in RE, Family Ministry, Ushering, Young Adults, choir, and social justice/outreach. We have eight people going to UU General Assembly this year, and several members have attended other training and regional meetings. Our feeling of being in community has grown through Dinners for Eight, Dinner Discussion groups, the Community Connections e-newsletter, Second Sundays, the Parents of Preschooler group, Pride Parade, and Racial Justice work. We have helped each other with life transitions and improved our ability to respond to specific needs. Everyone contributed to a successful Stewardship campaign, and we have been able to give our staff a well-deserved raise, and plan our budget for the coming year. We continue to attract new members and friends, and clearly have a program and a community that are fulfilling to many in central Indiana.

Social Justice work this year has focused on developing our relationship to IndyCAN. We are now a member congregation and can act as committed allies in the racial and social justice work going on in Indianapolis. We continue to serve students through tutoring programs, to witness at the Pride Parade, to offer Share the Plate donations to 12 different organizations, and to lead in Green Sanctuary efforts. I am so proud of the work our congregants do both through UUI and outside of church. We are truly a caring congregation!

Our Board of Trustees is looking ahead to the upcoming church year. At our annual retreat in July we and our staff will discuss  ourgoals for the new year. Many thanks to the Board’s leadership and to all the countless volunteers who have dedicated time, talent, and treasure to UUI. Hats off to all of you!

See you in church!

Holly Hendrickson

Board President

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What Are You Doing for Summer Vacation?

Whether we are parents with school-age kids, singles, empty nesters, or retirees, we tend to think about summer as a time for VACATION! It must be our traditional academic calendar imprinting which creates this idea that June, July and August are the right time to take a break, get away, and change things up.


As you explore your options, I would encourage you to check out Unitatarian Universalist camps. Attending a week-long Summer Institute or Summer Assembly has become a ritual for many UUs. In fact, attending a UU camp each summer is one of the most common ways UUs participate in their faith. Some people who rarely show up on Sunday morning would never miss their week at camp!


So what are UU camps like? At MUUSA where I have gone for several years, we start the day with Worship led by the week’s minister. Then the children and youth go off to their programs, and adults attend workshops ranging from choir, hiking, folk dance, the Bible, financial literacy, to yoga, and flower arranging. The location is the YMCA’s Trout Lodge in Potosi, Missouri. Meals are cafeteria style. Accommodations range from cabins, motel-type rooms, to tent camping. The camp has a lake, boats, ropes course, horseback riding, and putt-putt. Evenings are full of more worship, dancing, coffee house, and fireworks for July 4 th . There are UU camps on islands off the NH coast, in northern Minnesota accessible only by boat, at Oberlin College, and many others all over the US and Canada. They range in size from 1200 attendees to 40.


So why go?? These camps are a great way to meet other UUs, grow and expand one’s faith, and relax. You can go with your family or you can go alone. Most attendees are in the reach out and expand mode, so you are truly welcomed and included. Camp is a wonderful combination of time alone and time with the ones you came with—your kids, spouse, hometown friends. For a pre-packaged type vacation, the costs are very manageable and there are scholarships available. Ask Julia and Greg Whiteker about OMD SI. Ask me or Susan Porter about MUUSA. Take a look at the website www.cu2c2.org for a long list of camps.


So, time to plan those summer adventures! I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Thanks!

So much to be thankful for this holiday season! I am so grateful for all the hard work UUI members and friends have undertaken to make ours a beautiful, inviting, and energy efficient home. Have you noticed how great the Sanctuary and the Social Hall look these days? As I listened to the new heat pump hum on the roof yesterday, and dimmed the new LED light bulbs, I was glad we made these upgrades in accordance with our values. UUI is truly living its values in the area of energy efficiency! And it is helping each of us make these changes in our own homes and work places!

We are also walking the talk as we strive to be more involved in our neighborhood. This is a Board goal for the coming year. Our First Little Library is up and running. Our involvement in both IndyCAN and Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association activities this fall has placed us at the table. Our efforts in working with children in the refugee community and in local IPS schools highlight our commitment to our human family. Our Share the Plate initiative brings our moral and financial support to a different community organization each month. The Green Team continues to be a leader in the greening of Indianapolis congregations. I could go on—clearly if you want to reach out and live your UU values, there are partners at UUI to show you the way!

Your Board of Trustees and Program Team want to hear from you—so many of our great ideas, exciting initiatives, and new traditions come from members and friends. I am so thankful to have all of you imagining an even better UUI. I want to hear what you dream about, what you need, and what you can bring to our community. 2016 promises to be another wonderful year for UUI thanks to all of you!

With heartfelt gratitude,

Holly Hendrickson, President

Year-End Review of Board Action Charters for 2014-2015

Since the fall of 2014, UUI’s Board of Trustees has focused on four Action Charters which were created after the August 2014 retreat. Substantial progress has been made on all four Action Charters.

FACILITIES: UUI’s physical plant is looking and working considerably better. A new roof, HVAC system, ceiling, lighting, and stove have been installed in the main building. The Sanctuary and Social Hall have been freshly painted. The Social Hall has been re-organized, with a new seating area and a fresh, uncluttered look. The spaces used by Project Libertas are being cleaned more often to reflect the heavier use by the school. The parking lots were resurfaced and some debris was removed from the grounds. Video equipment has been installed to facilitate multimedia presentations in the Sanctuary and to allow video and audio recording  and possibly streaming of our services.

            TO DO: banner project, outdoor/parking lot lighting, Sanctuary flooring.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: An automated electric defibrillator was installed in the Social Hall for use in the event of cardiac arrest. Ushers and Worship associates have received training in various emergencies and have reviewed UUI’s safety features and needs.

            TO DO: extend training to RE teachers, staff, and others this fall.

CENTRAL IN UU COMMUNITY ACTION: UUI members and staff have collaborated with other area UUs in numerous community-wide initiatives—Festival of Faiths, HULT-I leadership training, IndyCan, Call banks, Winter Solstice celebration, Citywide Junior High OWL, and Indy Pride parade and booth.  A Healing Circle was held to allow members and staff a chance to process the events of 2012 leading up to the departure of Rev. Sinclair. Several informational meetings were held with leaders from Sacred Path to explore ongoing relationships.

            TO DO: plan future events, explore Citywide Coming of Age program.

ENDOWMENT/BEACON FUND ISSUES: a proposal for deciding when to use endowment earnings and how much to use in a given year was created.

            TO DO: revise and adopt this proposal. Review and revise the possible uses of endowment earnings. Decide if Beacon Funds could be held in a more productive way. Increase awareness and use of the Beacon Fund.

Other accomplishments of the Board this fiscal year include transitions in the duties and roles of Treasurer with the Office Administrator doing accounts payable, and a new treasurer on board for FY 2016.

Our RE program has managed the transition from a half time DRE to a 10 hour/week coordinator, and now has a new Lifespan DRE starting in July.

Our website was hacked and has been reconstructed. Electronic communications have expanded.

The Young Adult group has developed and we see more involvement.

Vibrant, relevant, and meaningful worship remains the focal point of our congregational life, and Jamie’s contract has been extended for three years.

Music and the arts continue to thrive.

Our Membership has expanded slightly and we have more pledging units. A more vigorous outreach to visitors and returning visitors that seems to be bearing fruit.

Our budget is balanced and we met our pledging goals for FY 2016.

The relationship with our major tenant, Project Libertas, has grown and they are committing to a long term home at UUI. We are exploring more collaboration as we learn more about each other.

            I am deeply grateful all the hard work, financial contributions, volunteer hours, and positive energy each and every one of you have offered to our church home. I feel we are going strong, and am excited about the coming year.

See you in church!

 

 

Mid America Regional Assembly

Here’s something to look forward to if the cold is getting you down. April 17-19 UUs from our Mid America Region are gathering for Regional Assembly in Naperville, IL.

I just registered and it looks great!!

Friday evening there is an all-church Banner parade, opening worship, and nationally known UU keynote speakers. Saturday there is more from these speakers, a brief business meeting, and workshops. The 24 workshops range from Social justice organizing, information on making your church campus more green, multicultural programs for UU congregations, researching income inequality,  worship beyond the “sermon sandwich,” a new program for personal faith development, updates on the church of the future….and so on. Four meals are included in registration, and there is excellent children’s programming for the young ones. Several more worship services, entertainment and then a huge all community Sunday worship to close things out. Early bird registration (before 3/15/15) is $175 for all this, and there is a good price on hotel rooms. Indoor pool too for the family!

Join me and your fellow UUs from UUI and the entire Midwest for the fun and inspiration! I promise you will find it personally fulfilling. We can bring so many great ideas and resources back to UUI. I would love it if we had enough UUI participants to send a person to every workshop! That would be 24 people! Take a look https://www.midamericauua.org/ra and talk to me or David Jackoway if you can go.

 —Holly Hendrickson

 

The Search Begins!

UUI’s Director of Religious Education, Natalie Spriggs-Trobridge is leaving to pursue a career in the ministry, and we are beginning the search for a new DRE.

The search committee has been formed and will begin the recruitment process. The committee consists of Peter Langowski, Sarah Montminy, Betsy Voigt, and me.

The UUI Board has asked us to find a full-time Lifespan Religious Educator to lead our children and youth RE program as well as organize and lead adult RE. The Board is fully committed to RE at UUI and feels that a full time Director is a good investment in our “free and responsible search for truth and meaning” as well as the growth of our church community.  This is a big financial commitment, but RE is one of our core values, and the entire Board is behind this decision.

As the search committee defines the qualities we are looking for in our new DRE, we are open to suggestions. Please contact me at  hollymhendrickson3@gmail.com with your thoughts. 

The final hiring decision will be made by the Board. We hope to have a new DRE by summer!

--Holly Hendrickson

 

Where We Are in Six Months

Recently a group of UUI members discussed where they would like the church to be six months from now. This was at the end of a morning of processing painful memories from our church’s past. This conversation was powerful and inspirational for me. I'd like to share with you my vision for our church six months from now.  As your president I have an important role in discerning and carrying out our collective vision, and I want you to know where I see us in the near future. 

I see UUI with Jamie in the pulpit, me in the presidency, and a new full-time religious educator joining the leadership team. Our Board of Trustees and committees would be populated with fresh faces as well as valued long-timers, and they all would be actively strengthening our UUI community. The church year would be starting with lots of children and youth, a full contingent of passionate and prepared teachers, and a full slate of offerings for learners and seekers of all ages. Congregants would feel supported, inspired, and encouraged in their life journeys.

Our finances would be healthy, our facilities attractive and well-maintained, and our commitment to environmental sustainability evident. In the greater Indianapolis community, we would be partners with other UUs in a multitude of projects, especially in the social justice area. We would feel confident and proud of our contribution to the liberal religious community, and be welcoming to anyone seeking our type of UU community and worship.   

So what do you see in six months?? Does any of this resonate with you? Feedback, please! 

Join us in membership! Make a commitment to our community by signing the Membership Book even if you aren’t sure or can’t contribute much financially. Your signing is a vote of confidence that UUI is on to something that is important to you. Together we can make this vision come true! 

 

See you in church! 

 

Holly Hendrickson