Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now?
You got someone to blame
—U2, One , Achtung Baby

May 3, 2020
Like each of you, I find myself settling into new routines just long enough for them to be unsettling and require change. Some of us may have more time on our hands, which only means more challenges with time management between work, life, and self-care. Virtually, UUCP provides a Sunday morning beacon, Monday morning meditation, Tuesday evening board work, Wednesday lunch with the minister, and Thursday community night. The meaningful aspects of our lives do not change in substance, perhaps just in content or mechanism of delivery. In fact, in all our zoom rooms, I cherish that each of us has our ‘name tag’ on our video so we can be sure to know our community more deeply.

At this time of year, our congregation usually transitions through stewardship, end of year programming, youth celebrations, and a hibernation from the summer swelter. Not this year! This year our Board, minister, and staff have pivoted with grace and joy to assure us as a ‘Congregation for Our Time.’ Our covenant begins with ‘Love’ as our doctrine, which rang, rings, and will ring true every day forward. And because of this, the U2 song One repeats in my head.

You say one love, one life (One life)
It’s one need in the night
One love (one love), get to share it
Leaves you darling, if you don’t care for it

We as a congregation are special in that love can take many forms and actions. Consider every thought, smile, view, virtual attendance, witness of nature, hello, and sigh to be gratitude for life and love. Every little action adds and assembles into something larger, which we know to be the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. To celebrate UUCP, I recently went back to read our history as compiled by Charlotte Carl-Mitchell and learned of internal conflicts of perspective and external challenges of ideology. UUCP has weathered social and political storms, only to prepare us for the present. I write this letter, because love must be shared, and it will leave if it is not cared for.

Well it’s too late, tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other

We’re a multi-colored tapestry woven into a new social fabric. Each of us contributes our own humanity to the congregation, with warm welcoming and full inclusion, which carries each other. We fold in the past – both the good and the bad. We unpack our resources. And we seize the opportunities into the second half of our first century.

Moving forward, nothing will be easy as there is limited precedence for current events. Individually, our financial and social situations may have, and still may, change. As families, we’ll struggle with rites of passage and modified traditions. As a community, we will develop more quickly than planned. I can assure you that your Board, minister, and staff are at the forefront of change and response. We are committed to sustaining UUCP staffing and programming at the current levels, because we’re One Love .

This message is not a scheduled update (Board message coming early June), yet some updates are worth noting. Our campus is deep cleaned with gratitude to Manuel. The patio, parking lot, air conditioner, and roof construction are completed. Our staff are performing their jobs in whole new creative ways. Our Board has committed to sustaining employment for staff. Our online service attendance and views are 30% above in person attendance. Our members, friends, and stewards continue to pay their pledges. Our weekly plate donations are down >60% as virtual ‘pass the plate’ lacks the emotional connection to giving. Our generosity to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund supports congregants. The stewardship campaign has 66% participation, with $465,000 of $609,000 committed. Our accounting systems are active and current. I am getting together with past UUCP presidents to reflect on our position. And, please save the date for our first virtual UUCP Congregational Meeting on June 14, 2020.

To assure that the board can plan next steps, please submit a stewardship form ( Pledge Online ) if you have not. If you supplement your pledge with plate donations, please consider alternate ways to give. If your stimulus check is a bonus, perhaps an additional pledge or gift is possible. And, if you find yourself on unstable financial and employment grounds, UUCP is built on cliche (hard rock), both under our campus and our congregation. Please request a financial waiver on the stewardship form and lean into the love resonating from UUCP – at an acceptable physical distance.

As the U2 song One closes, we share in the message that we are one, here to carry each other.

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters and my brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other

With gratitude for the honor to serve UUCP, thank you.
Jonny Lifshitz