UUFC President’s Letter January 28, 2024

President’s Letter from Connie Ussery

Greetings, UUFC Members, Friends and Visitors,

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday party on Christmas Eve.  It was fun to dress Ron in a Santa suit so he could circulate among you and raise a few laughs.  The “Christmas Family Feud Game” was confusing.  If we try it again, we’ll have buzzers and, I hope, funnier questions.  I have a year to work on it.  “Christmas Jeopardy” might be easier to manage.  Thanks to everyone who pitched in to make everything happen.

Since I really needed a way to cook extra items as more people attended the Holiday Party than I’d expected (no problem, I had extra), I was delighted when the Harlans donated their stove, which is in excellent condition.  We have researched needed wiring (a lot) and needed safety devices (we have the right hood and fire extinguishers).  Now, we need to have the Board review the expenses and the uses this stove might be put to, in order to accept the donation and move forward.  Then we can set policies for its use.

Everyone is working hard to make our Sunday services engaging and to expand the opportunities we offer our friends and members.  Remember to check the website uucolumbusga.org to keep up with the speakers and events.  Read your UUFC emailed announcements and reminders, so you don’t miss anything.  If you have suggestions for programs or events, let us know.  We are a diverse group with individual paths that not everyone will follow, but everyone can appreciate and respect.  

Religious education is expanding.  We have a new children’s program, led by Ellen Harlan and Michelle Midgette, that is creating a cohesive group of children as they learn UU values and principles.  Watch for the proposal for a teen group, soon to come.  I will launch the Adult RE program on February 11.  On Dr. Joyce Hickon’s recommendation, we will start with “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.” He sounds like the voice of God to me anyway, so I’m looking forward to offering this first video.  Each segment lasts 42 minutes, so we will break them into manageable parts in order to have enough time to digest and discuss the information.  You might want to take notes, so bring your journals.

Starting off this second year of service as your President, I am reminded that there is so much I don’t know about the Fellowship, about many of you, about how our population is evolving and how our Fellowship needs are changing.  Since I didn’t know that each subgroup in our Fellowship has a mission statement that connects its purpose to UUFC principles, I had to review those.  Committees also have mission statements, and some have their own goals.  I will be designing a slide show to focus on these groups and the purposes they serve within our community and beyond.  We will replace the fading projector in the refreshments area with either a new projector or with a flat screen TV for this purpose.

That job and others will be conducted during a Fellowship Work Day on March 23 (March 30 rain date).  Look around.  Let us know what needs to be done.  Then join in the work and get to know the amazing people that make this Fellowship successful.  Be a part of it.  Bring the kids.  Bring a spouse or a friend.   Make it a day to accomplish something important for the very important community we support with our time and our expertise, as well as our donations.

We now have 73 members and 63 friends.  Growing opportunities for enrichment in our lives, young and old, are bringing special people to us and keeping them.  Remember that all this is done by volunteers.

Bill Harlan held a service leader training session for three new members, Amanda, Kelsey and Stephanie. Amanda and Kelsey are offering Sunday service programs as well. Stephanie is helping with the Children’s RE and working on the Teen Group proposal with Amanda.   Every single person is needed and appreciated. Then there are those who take us into the community to support events that represent our values.  John Kamisky has great pictures of the Martin Luther King Day Parade in Hamilton, sponsored by the Men’s Club, an organization that has a positive impact on youth and adults in Harris County.

We tested a hearing assistance system that would involve installing a magnetic coil above the ceiling in Grace Hall.  We were told that 80% of all hearing aids would be compatible with this wireless system and that others could use another device provided for them to connect through headphones to the output from our PA system.  I could hear every word clearly through those headphones. Ultimately, we were surprised that the cost would be over $13,000.  We have tabled this project because of the cost.  Other options to support those who would benefit from assistive devices for hearing impairment are being explored.

Ron and I purchased WIFI thermostats in order to warm and cool the building remotely before we hold events and to monitor the temperature as well.  They also allow us to adjust the temperature at the thermostat, much like the old ones did.  Ron and I donated Ring doorbells and an Echo Show so that we can monitor anyone at the front entrance or at the side/ramp entrance on the Pavilion side of Grace Hall.  We also moved the video security surveillance system into the AV room so that images can be monitored without having to go into the office, which is very often locked. 

Our Design Team, led by Brenda Stevens, continues to make recommendations to groups and committees as they create new programs and resume old ones, and work to keep a harmonious, functional campus.

Committees are making so much happen.  Our pollinators’ garden area was seeded as crop circles with stepping stones.  The torrential rains caused some damage, but it is being repaired and reseeded.  Members of the Building and Grounds Committee, now joined by Goldie Watts, work to keep the outside areas beautiful and functional.   Orm Burnham works hard, both inside and outside regularly.  You’ll see him often, getting things ready for activities and regular events that occur in many areas of our campus.  Remember to check uucolumbusga.org to find new and old groups that might interest you and look for more as they evolve.

Individuals take initiative as well.  Imbolc will be celebrated outdoors for the first time since Covid, and the Earth- Centered Spirituality group will plan to hold regular events in the future. 

Beyond our campus, our Social Action Committee is having a tremendous impact on the community and their contacts are offering connections for us.  Watch our slide show in the refreshment area to keep up with everything going on and be sure to let these volunteers know you appreciate their efforts, but, more importantly, see what’s happening and become a part of it.

Your Board of Trustees and Officers are grateful for you and for the chance to build this fellowship for the future with a growing population that spans all generations.  

It’s been a great first month of my second term as president–two friends became members, no trees fell on anything important, and all the pipes stayed warm during the freeze, thanks to Ron and Hal.  

I hope you all stay safe and healthy as we move into the next month and support each other in fellowship.


Connie Ussery, President

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, GA