October Moderator’s Letter

Greetings Fellow Congregants,

The theme for our Annual Fund Drive (AFD) is  I can, We must!  Short and direct, for sure.  Let’s consider the elements of our AFD theme in reverse order:

We must:  Reverend Bill Sinkford did not mince words in his AFD letter mailed to all of you or in his sermon last Sunday.   First Unitarian did not meet its AFD target last year.  This year’s budget has been balanced only through a combination of significant reductions in staff time and the use of operating reserves. This is not sustainable financially, nor does it reflect a capability consistent with the mission we want this Church to achieve.    

I can: Our country and community are undergoing significant change and stress.  But the good news is that many of us live with abundance. The church’s ask is that you give generously within your means.  I ask you to take a few moments to reflect and consider the grace and opportunity that has been bestowed on you and our community, even as you and we endure a time of stress.  Please remember that this is our church–we can depend on no one else–and you have the ability to make this church a powerful voice by giving at a level that meaningfully supports our world class ministry, excellent staff, and church campus facilities. These resources allow us to gather in worship and community and to be a beacon of change in Portland and the larger world.

I am excited to announce that the Board, on November 5, will hold a congregational forum entitled “What We’ve Done and Where We Are Going; A Forum on Our Church’s 5-year Goals”.   The forum will be held after second service in the Eliot Chapel.  A major responsibility of your church Board is to work with congregants to establish our vision and, then, to set goals that will inform the work of our church’s Executive Team.*  Our latest set of 5-year goals were adopted in May 2016:

  • Focus on collaborative governance, revising policies for clarity and brevity and creating linkages between the Congregation, the Board, and the Executive Team.
  • Increase church funding through enhanced giving, including goal to reduce or retire the Buchan Building mortgage.
  • Make a cultural transition from program-focused church to mission-driven church, with priority on building beloved community between generations.
  • Develop a long-term plan for development and sustainability of church campus given changing dynamics of West End and downtown Portland.

Our forum on November 5 will allow Board members to provide an update on progress on these goals and to receive feedback from you on your vision of what successful achievement of each goal looks like.   We  hope you’ll participate and are excited about engaging with you on these important topics!   The Board will also post information presented at the forum on the Board’s webpage.**  Please check the Board’s Communications Committee webpage for updates.


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.

**Updated on October 31 to note that forum materials will not be posted by October 29 but will be posted as soon as they are available.