November Moderator’s Letter

Greetings Fellow Congregants,

The energy in the Church this fall has been wonderful.  And we have some great news.  As I write this, we are near 90% of our Annual Fund Drive (AFD) goal.  We are far ahead of where we were last year at this time.  The less good news is that we need to make 100% and more to bring us to the place where we are most effective in serving our church, our community and reaching our goals.  Over 400 congregants have yet to make their pledge.  If you haven’t yet pledged, please do it now. You can put us over the top.  

More good news: our Executive Team* and our union have agreed on a new, two year contract.  The board, at its December meeting, will vote on approval of the financial commitment required by the contract.  I expect it will pass – and it’s not a budget buster.  Thanks to all involved and in particular John Bishop and Pat Malone, congregants who stepped forward to help with the negotiations.

Your board held a mini retreat prior to our last meeting to continue our work on understanding white privilege and how it operates in our lives.  This is meaningful and revealing work.  We urge you to consider participating in Seminary for a Day, which is scheduled for Saturday, January 27th.  The keynote speaker will be Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a former Associate Professor of Education with extensive experience working with organizations on issues of race relations and racial justice. She has numerous publications and two books, including, “What Does it Mean to be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy. Her work on White Fragility has been featured in Alternet, Salon, NPR, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate and Colorlines.  The board has been asked to host a workshop/discussion on white privilege in our church as part of the Seminary program that day.  Watch for more information in the eNews and other church publications.

I am pleased to report that Jean Omelchuk has agreed to fill the vacant position on the Nominating Committee formerly filled by Linda Hunter.  Linda is moving to Spokane to be near her grandson.  We’ll miss her, and we wish her well.  And thanks go to Jean for stepping in.

Our 13th Ave Family Day Shelter is looking at expanding services to include overnight shelter.  Discussions are ongoing.

Our ET, Board, and Church foundation are actively working to reduce or eliminate the  the $1.4 million we owe on the Buchan building.  I’ve heard the campaign will be entitled“Burn the Mortgage”  This is exciting news and hope we can share a specific plan before the end of the year.

Thank you to the approximately 40 congregants  who participated in our November 5 forum on our church’s five year goals.  We had an engaging and thoughtful discussion.  We will be providing follow up to some of your questions in future communications.  Look for postings on the Board web page.

Our next Board meeting is on Thursday, December 7.  Please note that the meeting will begin early – at 6 pm, and will end at 7:30 pm.  

Finally, I wish you all a happy celebration of Thanksgiving and all the delicious food you can, or want, to eat.


Randy Russell

Moderator, First Unitarian Church of Portland

*The Executive Team includes our Senior Minister, Bill Sinkford; Associate Minister, Tom Disrud; and our Church Administrator, Kathryn Estey.  Our Ministers are ex officio members of the Board.