March Moderator’s Letter

Greetings Fellow Congregants,

     The word is out: we have a new Director of Music!  The search committee unanimously recommended that we hire DeReau Ferrar and Reverend Sinkford offered him the position.  DeReau has accepted and we now begin a new musical journey under his leadership. Congratulations to DeReau.  On behalf of the Board, I would like to also thank Reverend Sinkford and the Music Director Search Advisory Committee for their diligent work. There were many qualified applicants to winnow to the three finalists that presented before this congregation. It’s been gratifying to see the level of interest and the excellence of the candidates.  Check out the announcement under News and Events.

     Our fall 2016 Annual Fund Drive (AFD) currently stands at 90% of goal.  That 10% shortfall represents just under $150,000. Our AFD goal assumed a 3% increase to cover cost increases and an investment in a new congregational life initiative. The Executive Team (ET) and the Board are still examining the reasons for this reduction in pledging and how to address the shortfall in the budget. The ET expects to recommend the use of a variety of reserve and contingency funds to cushion the pledge shortfall for one year.  However, the entire shortfall cannot be covered and expenses must be reduced to  balance the budget.  These reductions will not go unnoticed by our congregation.  A proposed budget will be presented by staff to the Finance Committee at its March 28th meeting.  With the recommendation of the Finance Committee, this budget will be presented at the April Board of Trustees meeting.  The Board will discuss the presented budget and submit an approved budget for congregational vote.  

     The Board is striving to improve its skills to work together in right relationships according to our covenant.  Toward that end, the board attended an excellent half day workshop, led by Dana Buhl, on white privilege and how it operates in our society.   Dana is currently teaching an Adult Ed course at First U on this subject.  The work of the Board on this important topic will continue.

     As a follow up to Congregational Concerns Forum held last month, on May 7 we are planning a Café Conversation entitled Listening Toward Resolution: Facilitated Conversations.  This Cafe Conversation will emphasize small circles for listening and meaningful dialog.  Look for further details in upcoming e-News and my April letter.

   This is a spotlight month for our First Church Foundation.  I trust you heard Dev Dion and Mindy Clark’s thoughtful testimony last Sunday.  Please consider including the church in your will.  Members of the Foundation board are staffing a table in Fuller Hall after services during March.  They can answer any questions you might have.

    I’d like to highlight two more upcoming events. Tom Andrews, a former U.S. Representative and the current President and CEO of Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, is the speaker at the 2017 Sewell Lecture.  The lecture is just a few weeks away– April 6th.  And, on that same day, we’ll hold our next Board meeting from 4-6 p.m–earlier than usual so as to not conflict with the Sewell Lecture.

   Again, thank you to everyone who has been involved and continues to work with us in strengthening our beloved community. If you have additional questions you would like addressed, please write the board at


Randy Russell

Moderator, First Unitarian Church of Portland