We are living into our vision to be a spiritual community for our time. There is no time like the present to continue the work we started last year to modernize, update, and grow our UUCP community. Thank you for being with us as we continue the work started 60+ years ago and leave a legacy for those to follow.

Your UUCP Board of Trustees has committed to transparency, communication, and stewardship for 2019-2020 and to establish this model for the future. To fulfill that commitment, this message is the first of three annual messages to share the priorities, actions, and positions of the Board. The messages work in tandem with weekly announcements, monthly board chats, and one-on-one conversations about UUCP operations and activities. We offer the following updates with humility and in the spirit of transparency. We welcome continued input as to how we can do better.

Reverend Dance is our called minister. The Board, as with all of UUCP, celebrates the arrival and new ministry of Rev. Dance. Already, we have worked together over a board retreat, conference calls, and emails to set the course and expectations for 2019-2020. As a minister in preliminary fellowship, as defined by the UUA, she will benefit from mentorship opportunities, an advisory group, and the Board to guide her and us to set the tone for our congregation. At the outset, the Board supports Rev. Dance’s priorities in (1) building trust with staff, (2) completing construction, (3) establishing financial structure and process, and (4) re-structuring the membership process. Through all of this, the Board and Rev. Dance seek to operate with transparency, open communication, and express these actions with joy.

The patio, air conditioning, and upper parking lot are completed. Construction in Arizona is a challenge, particularly with an old building on undeveloped land. At every turn, our congregation administrator, Lora Gustafson, overcame obstacles that can be summarized as trying to fit square pegs in round holes, only to find that the round holes were triangles. The construction team identified that communication was just as challenging as the caliche (essentially natural concrete) under the patio and parking lot. The caliche required unanticipated ‘hard digs’ that resulted in substantial cost overruns and schedule delays. As of this message, the Town of Paradise Valley has granted full occupancy for the building and patio, with the parking lot certificate imminent.

Stewardship is a success. Bunny Hodas leads our stewardship team, spreading the message that our commitment as members includes taking care of the congregation. The Board is excited to share that we are excellent stewards of UUCP. Our updated membership rosters record 280 giving units and 340 members, with anticipated 94% or more participation in pledges for the financial security of our future. Many of you chose methods for regular pledge payments, which enhances our ability to budget, forecast, and track cash flow. If you would like help in setting up weekly or monthly payments, please contact Lora or Christine Marshall. Upon final count, UUCP has a pledge total of $580,000 for 2019-2020. Thank you for your generosity and patience with the process.

A financial plan is in place. Our treasurer, Larry Reed, has worked with the UUCP office and finance committee to develop a financing and accounting plan. Immediately, members can see these changes in the simplified budget, financial email updates, and budget graphs posted on campus. The increased Board oversight of UUCP finances includes regular board reports through the finance committee, a transition to electronic records (e.g. QuickBooks online, digital banking), and a bookkeeper. The Board, Staff, and Rev. Dance are committed to running a lean operation, within the approved budget for 2019-2020. In the longer term, the financial plan requires a new mortgage to pay off the current mortgage, finance the remainder of the construction, and provide reserve finances to ensure planned operational expenses.

Accessible front entrance construction paused for plans and financing. The completed construction took longer than we planned and cost more money than we expected, concurrent with financial and bookkeeping challenges. With most of the construction complete and the financial outlook bright, the Board of Trustees, Minister, and staff have agreed to pause the construction. We want to have all the bills for this phase of the construction come in and make absolutely sure we are clear and responsible in our financial security going forward. And, we want to make sure we are absolutely clear on the cost and timeframe of the final phase – the accessible entrance for our campus. We anticipate that the pause will not be long. We are committed to the original goal to build an accessible entrance AND just as committed to being responsible with the finances of this congregation. Our next steps, in parallel, are 1) to secure the construction loan that was part of the original plan, and 2) develop a detailed construction plan with the contractor, construction manager, and architect.

The Board celebrates the staff, members, and the congregation. The Board is humbled and honored to lead the congregation at this auspicious time. We look back at the great UUCP legacy in building community and changing the world we live in. As with many times before, we overcame some obstacles in the last few years, emerging with renewed purpose and resources to live into our mission. Our Minister is effervescent to advance justice, inclusion, and liberal theology. Our staff is first among peers. UUCP is the envy of others in the UUA. It’s going to be a great year.