As UUCP enters 2021, our congregation and community are strong. From the Board’s perspective, strength originates from our shared values that bring us into a community for our time and dedication to personal growth towards social impact. Thank you for being a critical part of our web; your time, talents, and treasures reinforce our shared commitment to progress. In front and behind the scenes, UUCP has a cast that includes our minister, staff, and volunteers with new skills and talents in delivering first-class, online programming. Board members monitor and attend these programs to witness personal and community growth. To show our appreciation, the Board sets aside time as a regular practice during meetings to identify individuals (and teams) making an impact on UUCP, and then shares a note of gratitude. We value each of you.

This time last year, we were taking unrestricted breaths. In the time since, we have had our breathing restricted by a virus, white supremacy, and a threat to our democracy. With a vaccine, speaking words to power, inauguration, and cooler weather, breathing has resumed. However, breathing continues to be a mindfulness exercise, as we recognize that pastoral care is prioritized over new program development. As Arizona encountered the spikes in COVID case numbers, we supported Rev. Christine to focus on pastoral care. Please continue to take care of yourself, those around you, and everyone in our community. Together we achieve greatness.

Widening the Circle. This year, the UUCP Board adopted the practice of shared reading to evolve as leaders and ground us in our values. We elected to read Widening the Circle released by the UUA Commission on Institutional Change, which was charged to look at how race and oppression were present within our denomination. The selection was made easier knowing that our staff and members explored this text through UUJAZ and collegial conversations. As the Board, we evaluate the recommended actions against the current practice and future ideals. The discussions have led the Board to consider deeply the opportunity presented by adopting the 8th Principle to “journey toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.” Within the UUA, member congregations hold autonomy to adopt the principle ahead of the national organization. The Board recognizes the positive social impact of the 8th Principle and the opportunity for UUCP to remain a voice for justice. We are planning more conversations as our congregation considers a vote to adopt the 8th principle.

Progress towards infrastructure systems. More than ever, remote work has pushed our staff to develop digital infrastructure. Up until COVID, UUCP operations relied on individual computers, file cabinets, and paper; now, we’re more digital than ever! Our accounting system is through QuickBooks online. Our payroll is through ADT online. Our website is constantly updated, with an imminent redesign. We have a YouTube channel. And now, through the guidance of the Ezzells, UUCP is moving to Google Workspace for Nonprofits. This means that groups and teams can have dedicated email addresses and online storage for files, documents, and reports.

Among these guiding documents, UUCP relies on congregational polity as defined by our governance documents. Over the past few years, the Board has been dedicated to collating and consolidating the articles of incorporation, bylaws, policy manuals, etc. On more than one occasion, we recognized that they may be outdated. The Board has initiated steps to retain a governance consultant to assure that UUCP is in compliance, both with standards of practice and aligned with our values. By engaging in systematic review and update, we can be assured that our documents are serving UUCP well into the future. Please consider volunteering for the Governance committee.

Service and representation. UUCP thrives because our members and friends recognize the spiritual and community impact of progressive values, which cause us to take action. Our members serve within and beyond our walls to live into our mission. Now is the time to respond to the nominating committee. They are working hard to fill vacancies on the Board, Foundation Board, and Nominating Committee, with the charge to assure that our members are represented. The Board appeals to each of you to accept the duty and responsibility of assuring a solid foundation of leadership into the future. Don’t worry, there are sufficient mentorship and real-time training.

More so, UUCP is a strong and vibrant community. We are positioned to represent and serve on local and wider committees and boards. Please consider attending the Western General Assembly this month and representing UUCP as an official delegate at the National General Assembly in June. Both of these events are online.

Fiduciary responsibility. Your generosity makes the Board’s fiduciary responsibility much easier. Rev. Christine, the staff, and the Board have been very careful with your money. We have followed the original budget, accounting for all income and expenses. Where necessary (e.g. video editing for the choir), expenses were approved and reallocated. In fact, the minister and Board review the budget each month to assess our financial position and outlook for the program year. After a mid-year budget review, we learned that online services cost about the same as in-person programming. Our outlook for next year must account for the increased cost to maintain either hybrid or dual services. Additionally, the Board assured that all staff are paid fair wages and benefits, as we established at the beginning of the year. And then, your generosity allowed the Board to approve a stipend for Rev. Anthony as he continues to advance our racial justice initiatives. As a reminder, the Board meetings are open to members and the minutes (with financial balance sheets) are available on the UUCP website.

In reviewing our systems of practice, the office reported that automatic payment of pledges has been well received. Members are fulfilling their annual pledge through regular bank transfers or payments. For members of the Board, this practice clears our brain space to live our values and serve UUCP – rather than remembering to pay our pledge. As a follow-through, the stewardship team is recommending that pledges are automatically renewed during the annual pledge drive. This practice would reduce paperwork and assure fiscal solvency, without additional work. Please share your thoughts and lookout for more information.

Our campus. Our campus remains closed to group activities and meetings to protect the health and welfare of our congregation. As vaccination rates rise, reopening will become feasible. At this time, we project that online programming will continue through the 2020-2021 program year. The decision to reopen lies with the Board and Rev. Christine, based on equity, inclusion, and science.

It rained in January. It rained quite substantially in January. Do you know what did not happen? It was not raining inside room 15! There was no flooding in the preschool classrooms! The capital construction campaign to re-grade the patio and replace the roof was a success! To all those who used to rush to mop and dry those areas, consider serving on a committee or team with your extra time!

This message supports our goal of regular, transparent communication to share the priorities, actions, and positions of the Board. The messages work in tandem with weekly announcements, Board meetings, congregational meetings, and one-on-one conversations about UUCP operations and activities. We offer these updates with humility and in the spirit of transparency. We welcome continued input as to how we can do better.

In closing, the UUCP Board serves and pledges to live in the world that we envision, not to meet others’ metrics. We are grateful for the congregation’s support and trust. The honor is ours.