LETTER FROM UUCCSM PRESIDENT
Dear UUSM Friends,
A week ago I wrote to the parents of children in our religious education program and our leaders in RE to share with them what was no doubt frustrating news: that the proposed FY 2020 Budget includes a quarter-time reduction in funding for the DRE position.
Indeed, last Tuesday the board moved to present in May for congregational vote a budget that has modest budget deficit and a quarter-time reduction to the DRE position.
On the heels of that vote, we learned that Kathleen Hogue will resign her position at the end of the church year. It is a difficult decision for her, as she describes in her letter below, just as it was a difficult decision for the board. RE matters. Families matter. They are the future of our faith.
Having said that, the board is fiscally responsible for managing the long-term best interests of the congregation and we can only support the size of the program we currently have and then work to facilitate its growth.
We understand that Kathleen has to do what’s best for her. We are grateful for her time and energy here and wish her great happiness as she pursues life as a new Grandma closer to home in Arizona.
Although it is sad — for all who have loved and worked with Kathleen and the RE program — it is more than that. It is an opportunity and a responsibility to take some time of honest reflection about what has worked well in the RE program that we want to retain and what is needed that our children, parents, teachers and volunteers deserve. This is a time of creativity and cooperation, not despair and anxiety.
There are amazing, dedicated, experienced and committed people — both in the congregation AND in the larger community — who are are ready to be part of communities dedicated to families raising amazing children and youth.
So what comes next?
The board voted last week to put together a task force of concerned board members, RE leaders and parents and youth. Thanks to Board VP Beth Brownlie for leading that effort. The task force will be responsible for conducting an evaluation, reporting back on what is working well in RE and what needs attention, and recommending how to make the most of our resources.
We’re also interested in broadening into a shared ownership of the ministry for our children. We all need to understand that we need to grow young, not old.
Simultaneously we are posting our position on the UUA Pacific Western Regional sites — both locally, within the district, regionally and nationally. We’re focusing on bringing someone who loves children and youth and who brings an energy, enthusiasm, and immediacy to our ministry with young people.
The Board of Directors will work with Rev. Greg and a team of RE Stakeholders on the search. We hope to have a successful candidate by the end of June who is able to start in August. Our new DRE will work with a restructured LRE program and we can begin our church year strong.
We’ll celebrate Kathleen’s service to our community on June 16th.
Thank you for continuing to walk this path with me, uncertain as it is. If we can summon gratitude and seek to be of service we may find joy in the mystery, no matter what the journey brings.
LETTER FROM OUR LIFESPAN DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
April 11, 2019
To: Rev. Greg Ward
UU Church of Santa Monica
1260 18th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Dear Rev. Greg Ward,
Please accept this letter as formal notification that I am resigning from my position as Director of Lifespan Faith Exploration with the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica as of June 16, 2019. I sincerely appreciate the opportunities I have been given during my time here, as well as your professional guidance and support.
My time here has been very rewarding making this a difficult decision for me. I’ve enjoyed my work here and witnessing how our community has grown through our shared work and love for one another. There have been challenges — for both myself and the congregation. The parts that I have enjoyed best were the ones where those challenges called us to learn and become better people and worker better together.
Living in Los Angeles has been difficult as a result of being a single mom to a disabled adult child living with me. The financial struggle has been very challenging. In addition, you may be aware, my life has recently been blessed with a grandchild. Over the past few months I have been struggling with the truth that I am not able to spend more time with her watching her and helping her grow. Family is everything. So this is why I believe it is time for me to make another move. There are things that are still not clear to me about my future but this one thing is…to be with family.
I will miss this congregation. I will miss the work that we accomplished together as a staff and as a community. I will miss the pot lucks, the softball games, the conversations, the celebrations and the kids. It is my deepest hope that this congregation continues to work together to create more love, more justice and more hope in the world. And I know you will.
I know my departure will add to the transition already in place. My hope is that this is something you will all see as an opportunity for a new start. If I can assist with the transition, I am happy to help things go well. We are one world.
There is a season.
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.”