GIVING BEYOND BELIEF
Welcome to the 2017 Stewardship campaign. Below are some materials that may be of help in evaluating your pledge of support for the work of the society in Fiscal Year 2018 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018). Those of you who turned your pledge card in by March 19, 2017 received ticket(s) for the Emma’s Revolution concert. Thank you! If you have not yet turned in your pledge card you are still welcome and encouraged to do so as soon as you can.
Aspirational Budget with Narrative
Your Board of Trustees has been working on an “aspirational budget” for the next fiscal year (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018) since last summer. This began with a long-term view of where we wanted to be including a full-time minister and a space large enough to support our ministry including a fellowship hall and appropriate space for religious education and adult programs. We knew this could not be accomplished in one year but would require many years of growth in the budget from a combination of increased membership and individual contributions.
As you begin to contemplate your pledge for the next fiscal year, the Board wanted you to know what we think is an appropriate budget for next year. The actual budget that the Congregation will vote on in May, 2017 will be the subject of more analysis and discussion.
Explaining this budget is not easy as there are many factors that will change significantly next year. The most obvious one is the significantly lower cost of space as a result of our Space Sharing Agreement with First Congregational Church of Woodbury. Unfortunately, this is completely offset by the loss of generous members who have either died or moved away or are planning on moving away in the near future. An analysis was performed before the vote to approve the Space Sharing Agreement but was not shared with the membership as it was preliminary. The Financial Management Committee has reviewed the pledges for the current year and based on their best assessment of the life changes of specific members they project that next year’s pledges will decrease by about $15,000. At this point, the FMC does not feel it is prudent to project significant growth in membership in the next fiscal year that will offset this loss.
Some members might think that given the reduction in rent at FCCW, we could actually lower our individual pledges, but the budget projections show this is not the case. Of course, the financial situation would have been much more dire if we had remained in our current space with the propsed lease payments. Just to maintain our current staffing and committees doing the great work of MUUS, we will still need an average 3% increase in pledges from current members. Please keep in mind that this 3% increase is critical to a reasonable budget. For someone pledging $1000 per year, that only comes to a $30 increase.
Your financial support helps MUUS do important work, not just strengthening our own spiritual resilience, but strengthening the resilience of our society in a perilous time. With our new shared space and increased visibility, we have the opportunity to expand MUUS’s reach into the community, to grow our membership as we nurture the human spirit bringing love and justice to transform ourselves and our world.
Michael Jensen (February 26, 2017)
I am a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. My wife Susan is the daughter of a Unitarian minister. We met through the Unitarian church in Lincoln, Nebraska; went through RE and the equivalent of OWL together, and were in the high school youth group together. We are deeply UU, and were trained in a variety of belief systems over the years.
As part of junior high RE, we visited eight different faith traditions, and we participated in their rituals. In LRY (the UU high school youth group), we explored Sufism, and transcendental meditation, and the I Ching, and Tarot, as well as Dyadic Encounters, Self-Actualization, Stoicism, and plenty more. Even Christianity was part of that broad curriculum of experience.
And I still don’t know what I capital-B Believe. I know some things, though.
I know that the instruments in an orchestra make music far richer than all the individual parts simply added together.
I know that I am part of a universe whose thrum is not just intricate, but also intimate.
I know that I love the thoughtful silences I share with this congregation. I love what I hear in those silences.
In the sixteen months I’ve been a member of MUUS, this congregation has given me a place to hear the spirit in the silence, and to listen to the thrumming symphony of our harmonizing personalities.
Last November, when gasping grief left me breathless and bereft, I turned to this congregation for sanity. I have lit candles for those I’ve loved, and for those I’ve lost. I’ve quietly wept when a moving moment was shared with congregational friends.
While I’m not sociable in the way my wife Susan is, I’ve nonetheless felt welcomed by each of you, and felt enlisted as a new instrument, adding to that symphony of personalities.
My life here in Connecticut is unlike my life on our farm in Nova Scotia, or my life in Washington DC, or any of the other lives we’ve found (and made) since we began our big adventure.
Without question, MUUS has helped make this region “home.”
This congregation has gifted me with spirit, and solace, and community. In all its complexity, and with all its disagreements, there is a spirit here which lifts my own, Sunday by Sunday, and day by day.
For that, I thank you.
Monica Burnham (March 5, 2017)
Once upon a time I moved back to Connecticut and started attending MUUS. Every Sunday I’d be here with my two kids, and get to listen to their little voices as they recited along with all of you “Love is the spirit of this society. Dwelling together in peace…” Then somehow, magically, my two little kids became a college student, and a high school senior. Although they didn’t always want to “wake up early” to come to MUUS, I know that MUUS was a positive influence in their lives, and over the years MUUS has helped me become a better parent, and a better person.
Despite all MUUS has provided for me and my family I’m still very uncomfortable standing in front of you asking for money for MUUS – I guess that makes me a true Unitarian Universalist. I had the privilege of serving on the MUUS Board of Trustees long enough to know that members of this congregation give and give generously. I know from being among you all these years that you are smart people who understand that it takes money to make an organization, even a spiritual organization, work, and I know that you have many demands for your hard-earned dollars. So, I just want to share two thoughts you may wish to consider as you think about your pledge to MUUS this year.
Since November, I’ve found a need to re-think many things, including my charitable giving. My husband and I grew up right around here but for the first 11 years of our marriage we lived in the Seattle area. As we started our first jobs and moved from our first rental house to our first house, we were too far away from family to benefit from hand-me-downs so we discovered Consumer Reports. It was an indispensable tool as we had to purchase our first vacuum cleaner, our first refrigerator, our first car. We became huge fans, and have remained financial supporters for over 25 years. I still admire the Consumer Reports mission, and am thankful for the money and headaches their scientific advice saved us over the years. Since November, however, I’ve had to ask myself, how important are my rights as a consumer compared to my rights as an American? How important is saving money on a washing machine compared to saving immigrants from deportation? I’ve decided I won’t be making a financial contribution to Consumer Reports this year but will instead be putting that money elsewhere – but where? A sentence from the Editor’s column of the most recent edition of UU World really struck me. He said, “There has never been a better time to invest in groups that bring you joy, that strengthen you, that help you serve others, and that work for justice”. So, does MUUS bring you joy? Strengthen you? Does MUUS provide opportunities for you to serve others, and work for justice? Then consider investing, and maybe thinking of ways to increase your investment. Me? I’ll be adding my Consumer Reports dollars to my pledge to MUUS.
I like MUUS because you learn to be respectful and to be kind.
I like listening to the service because it’s pretty good.
My favorite song to sing is Come Sing A Song With Me.
The people here are so nice and I like that they listen to my ideas.
When Hobie and I worked on this it warmed my heart to hear him say he feels listened to here. For that I thank you all. In a world so busy and distracted that feels like no small thing.
I bring him every week because the UU principles reinforce the values we are teaching at home, and because it is a rich community that listens and has a lot to share.
We are all stretching ourselves in the coming year as we move to a new space and I hope that you will stretch your pledge as well so that we will get off to a good start in our new space and have all that we need to reach out and grow our community and enrich all of our experiences.