It’s stewardship time! As members of this church community, we pledge to share our time and finances. Without either, our beloved community would cease to exist. Soon you will be receiving a packet containing information about this year’s campaign. In fact, you can help us save on postage by picking yours up on Kick-off Sunday, March 12.
A few notes about this year’s campaign:
1) It’s more important than ever.. This year we have new staff needs with Jason’s departure, as well as overdue staff raises and expenses for the aging campus.
2) We’re keeping the community-building Visiting Stewards Program; these conversations with congregants were a popular feature of last year’s campaign. You can read about this program and get other information at thefuun.org/stewardship.
3) It’s shorter. We think we can have an equally effective campaign in a more compact time period so we are reducing our campaign length from six weeks to four weeks. The campaign will end on April 2. Please assist us in this by responding quickly with your pledge this year.
4) There are great raffle prizes you’ll want to win. The earlier you pledge, the more raffle tickets you receive. They will be available at the stewardship table in the Social Hall every Sunday of the campaign.
The bottom line: We love our church, we love our extended community and both need us. So share the love and please pledge generously. Let your light shine bright!
With love, gratitude, and thanks,
The Stewardship Committee
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville
Board Stewardship Statements
Below are statements from Board members that may be used by the Stewardship Committee for the 2017-2018 campaign.
Vicky Tataryn, President
The time for our annual Stewardship Campaign is drawing near. I’d like to speak to each of you about how important your pledge is to the mission of this church. Our budget is like any other. We expect a certain amount of income and that determines our spending. In any given year 30 – 40% of our membership does not pledge. Many of these members give generously but their gifts are not part of our financial planning. It can be hard to plan regular contributions but even a lower pledge with additional gifts would be extremely helpful in planning things such as our staff compensation.
All of your donations go to the day to day operations of this church. The largest percentage of our budget is to the support of the staff. Do you remember when we did not have a Communications Director? If you do, then you know what a big difference that position has made to the function of this church, how important it is to fulfilling our mission. I don’t want to single out that position but it is our most recent addition and easier to remember the changes that have occurred since it’s inception. I can assure you that our Office Administrator has been a beacon of creativity in the operations of this Church. She and Laurie Stevens have taken on the massive job of training and scheduling the army of Greeters that make each service possible. Each of our staff comes with unique gifts that make us who we are. As a Board and as a Congregation I believe that we want to give them regular raises and fair compensation. That is dependent on the outcome of our Stewardship Campaign every year and the income we can depend on. I would like to thank each of you for all of your gifts and the consideration you give your pledge this year. It makes all the difference to the mission of this Church.
Jeff Stein, President Elect
For 45 years I was never affiliated in any way with any religious institution. So it absolutely blows my mind that I am now president elect of a church. But when I am continually reminded it is this church, this FUUN, my reassembled mind says, “Lucky me.” This is how my luck began.
Moving to the South, Brenda and I needed to find a compatible, undogmatic spiritual community for raising our children. We started attending FUUN in late 1989 when Jessica was 5 months old. Jessica and later Danielle were both dedicated at FUUN, sang in the children’s choirs here and at General Assemblies, took Owl and Coming of Age, and went to Mountain Camp and SUUSI. Jessica, as well, was a youth group leader.
Haven’t many people come here looking for just such a welcoming and supportive community to raise their kids in? And then what happens, the kids get to do all that, and the parents get to grow even more supporting all that support. For me it was teaching Children’s RE for six years, Co-Chairing the Fellowship Committee with Brenda, chairing the Building Needs Assessment Committee for our big 2000 push to expand facilities, twice serving on the Nominating Committee in two different decades, being a Board member early in this millennium, including serving on our last interim Minister Search Committee, joining and then facilitating a Covenant group, joining an NVC group, and chairing the Lead Minister Advisory Committee.
Why do I list these? Not to impress, but looking back to realize how they have stretched me and helped me grow, like my experiences helping with Coming of Age, Room at the Inn and Habitat for Humanity have; have given me expanded opportunity and reach, like serving on the Board of SUUSI becoming Vice President and then President while giving workshops there for ten years. Like being a delegate at two General Assemblies, and also giving workshops there at Boston and St. Louis. Like giving workshops and/or lay sermons at The Mountain, The Florida UU Ministers Conference and at a double-digit number of UU Churches around the country, including at least eight here at FUUN (not including any number of Adult RE series I taught).
All these participations allowed me to hone my second-life calling as a workshop leader and educator for innumerable other venues outside the UU arena. I’m talking opportunity and support arising out of diving in. And opportunities for FUUN fun and friendship, too, through Dinners for 9, fellowship retreats and picnics, camping outings, and some 20 FUUN Auction Movie Dinners we have held. And opportunities to realize my thespian comic with-in directing and/or playing in multiple FUUN fundraising productions. I mean, where else would I have gotten the opportunity to live in a van down by the river?
This is why I have supported FUUN with my time and finances. Why, beyond all my life’s predictions, I am slated to be its next president. It’s because FUUN has done so much for me. And mine is but one example of how your open-hearted support can find FUUN exponentially supporting your own surprising life journeys in return.
Tom Surface, Immediate Past President
I’ve been a member at FUUN for 20-some years. I remember the church from high school when I was in the youth group here. As a young father, I went looking for a church home, and when I visited FUUN I realized my teenage experiences had forged some kind of bond with the space. Over the years, as I became engaged in various ways – children’s RE, men’s group, music, leadership – deeper bonds were made. My financial commitment is a way for me to express those bonds in a meaningful way. I prefer to make my pledge large enough that it has an impact on my personal cash flow – so I notice it. That way, I am kept aware of the significance of the connections I have with my church.
Candy Toler, Secretary
I attended First UU for many months before I really felt moved to join. I found the services to be thought provoking, but I yearned for more. I remember well my decision to make the commitment . . . at the 1977 church retreat at a state park in East Tennessee, I treasured the stimulating conversations and felt an incredible sense of community. I joined the following week. Since then I have been involved in a wide variety of different aspects of the life of the church, many in leadership roles, including serving as President in 1988.
Volunteering has enabled me to get to know many people, which has certainly enriched my life. One especially fond memory I have related to asking new members to make pledges to FUUN in 1983. That group of new members included Bob Day – we have been married since 1987! Teaching Building Your Own Theology made me explore my own beliefs and share them with the group.
As with everything else, the more I put into FUUN, the more I get out of it, which is why I decided to recycle myself on the Board as Secretary in 2015.
This church is important to me, so I have supported it with my time and my money for the last 40 years. If you want to feel more connected to the church, I encourage you to participate in semiannual clean-up days, bake something for the Herb Fair, greet on Sunday morning, participate in a Social Justice group, or any number of other things. You will be glad you did!
John McIntosh – Treasurer
My wife and I joined the FUNN almost 5 years ago. We tried several other churches over the years but never found what we were looking for. At FUUN we found a church that felt like home to both of us. We found a congregation that was warm, friendly and never judgmental of other members of the church.
We became active in the church. I was a Lay Minister for 3½ years and my wife was a greeter on Sunday. We both have worked with the Herb and Craft fair for the past 3 years and have enjoyed every minute of it.
Now on a more personal note, I became the Treasurer of FUNN in 2015 and have learned much more about our church. It’s a very caring church, not only with our congregation but with our community by extending a helping hand to all people who need it. As Treasurer of the church I see how our money is spent and how the board and staff work hard to get the most for our dollars.
As Treasurer, I also see the possibilities and impact that our church could have for our congregation and the great work we could do in the community if we just had more money. I encourage you, during the Stewardship campaign, to give more this year to help our church, staff and our beloved community grow.
Liz Schneider, Chair – Ministerial Council
I was raised Catholic, but during college I decided I was an atheist. After marrying and having children, Mike and I felt the need to join a church to expose our children to religion. Mike had been raised Unitarian, so 25 years ago we tried FUUN. I felt immediately at home. I had been a Unitarian Universalist for years, and didn’t know such a church existed.
Shortly after we joined FUUN, the president of the congregation gave a speech and advised us to “get involved.” So I joined the Caring Committee, taught in my children’s RE classes, and eventually became involved in the Membership Committee. Through that work, I learned about Unitarian Universalism and developed friendships with people who thought like I did.
When our 20-year-old son took his life, the members of the church rallied around us and held us up. I never questioned my “faith.” I had chosen the perfect church for me. People didn’t hit me with platitudes, or blame me; they expressed the most profound sorrow and empathy.
The thing I love best about this church is that there are not many answers, only more questions. One cannot help but grow. I love the emphasis on truth and reason in our church. There’s no talk of superstition, and myths are presented for their educational and entertainment value.
I give my time and money to FUUN so that it will be here for others, like me, who don’t know there is a church where all people are valued, and whose members do their best to live by the Seven Principles every day.
Chris Wood, Operations Council Chair
I have been a member of FUUN since the early 1980s and have always been proud that our church and our denomination have been on the progressive side of issues like civil rights and full civil rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters. This church provides me an opportunity to effect change and make a difference on issues like homelessness, affordable housing, immigration, a living wage and others.
It is important to me that the church be sustained as a thriving entity to leverage our individual passions for social justice into meaningful, positive action and change. It is important to me that the church calls for each of us to explore, expand, and develop our own personal theology. I want the church to be available to as many people as possible to make this spiritual journey. Finally, the fellowship I experience through the church is an important part of my life. I enjoy going to church and seeing familiar faces, doing things like Dinners for Nine and even the usually positive interactions with other members realized through work on committees.
Bob Day, Resource and Development Council Chair
For me, this church has always been about love and finding new ways to express that love. The Board theme for this year is found in Hymn No. 299, Make Channels for the Streams of Love, and is particularly meaningful to me. The way I use my money has come to be one of many ways to express my love, and making a significant pledge to this church has been an important commitment for me since I joined in 1983.
One of the most meaningful aspects of congregational life is the community we have created, and the way everyone finds their own channel to express their commitment and love for the community. One opportunity to express our love available to all of us is to support the community by making a financial pledge, no matter what size. In the words of the final verse of the hymn: “For we must share, if we would keep this gift all else above; we cease to give, we cease to have—such is the law of love.”
Barbara Snook, At-Large – Board Member
I grew up in a church that stressed the “wrongness” of others who did not believe in the dogma of the church. It was a very judgmental and fearful environment. As I grew up, went to college, and worked, I met many people of other faiths who were of high moral character and had all the attributes that my religion was supposed to impart. It seemed, in fact, that these “non-believers” were more loving, kind, and happy than those I had known in my childhood church. For this reason, I rejected the notion that God would punish anyone who did not label himself or herself a “Christian.” I reasoned that an all-powerful God would at least be fair and just, and that labels would not determine what is fair and just.
For many years, I felt that I had no place in any congregation, and missed many aspects of a church community. However, one day at work, a co-worker mentioned that she was planning to attend the Unitarian Church in Nashville. She explained to me what Unitarian Universalism was, and I was curious. Also, the church was almost literally across the street from my house! From the moment I heard the covenant that we hold, that all life is interconnected, belief in the need for justice and compassion in our words and deeds, and the capacity for unity in spite of the traits that sometimes divide people, I was hooked! I found a church home where I would not have to compromise to be part of a community!
I have had 6 wonderful years being a member of the congregation at First UU Nashville. It has enriched my life beyond measure and given me support in times of extreme uncertainty. I really cannot imagine being without all the wonderful people at FUUN and serving the larger Nashville community through opportunities afforded to me through our congregation.
Melinda Fish, At-Large – Board Member
I became a member of 1st UU in 1987 when we were married by David Maynard, a former 1st UU minister. My husband was raised in the Jewish faith and I as a Methodist. As a blended family, we found Unitarian Universalism to be a good fit for our family. I believe it is especially important that 1st UU maintain a presence in an area of the country where church beliefs can be so divisive. The all-inclusive tenant of our faith is a bed rock of my faith and I am privileged to serve with like-minded people.
Margy May, At-Large – Board Member
I was raised outside of the U.S. and attended non-denominational churches in Mexico, Argentina and the Philippines. I went on many mission trips as a teenager while living in the Philippines. Husband Tom was raised Presbyterian and attended Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta after college. He worked briefly as a Presbyterian Minister in Nashville prior to getting his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. Daughter Sarah was baptized in the Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro. Despite these multiple beginnings, we found a home at First UU when we moved to Nashville in the Fall 1995.
In 1997, Tom and I were asked to chair the Auction and we agreed. We quickly realized why we had been asked – no one else wanted to do it and it was a lot of work!! However, that year we assembled a great team, got the “good ju ju” going and, together with the congregation, raised over $18,000 (past years had always hovered around $9500). Tom and I chaired the auction again the next year, and I chaired or co-chaired for another 3-4 years. Sometimes, even if you can’t be a huge donor you can still make a significant difference with your time and creativity.
I have chaired Fundraising and Fellowship, worked with RITI, served on the Trust, and Sanctuary Expansion Task Force. When our daughter was young, we were involved with Children’s RE and I took over as coordinator for the Parents Night Out group when another member’s child had outgrown the program. I have cleaned out the attic when it got too full, organized the kitchen when it became overwhelming, and cataloged books. While some church members like to be in the fore front, I’m one of the people who prefers to lurk in the shadows, so I can get my tasks done!
Christopher Cotton, At-Large – Board Member
I have been a member for 8 years. I came to the church after moving to Tennessee from the Boston area with my now wife. I grew up in Tennessee, and we decided it would be better living in a warmer area. We had been going to a UU church up north and came to FUUN. We loved it during our first visit. The very first thing I did was to become a committee member of the Green Team. From there, my wife and I ended up becoming Greeters for a while, and then I added being a Lay Leader for Sunday services. Since then I’ve been on the board for my second term. Plus, I’ve started being an RE assistant since my daughter has started the program.
We have pledged since the very beginning – we love this community. We really want this wonderful community to be around. We give with our time and money.