May We Live in Excellent Times

I confess that I am only allowed to be Moderator in good times. I was Moderator first during our 150th anniversary which featured returning ministers and celebrations of fond memories, and am very lucky to be in the position again now as the Society looks toward the future as Senior Minister Rev. Vanessa Rush Southern starts her ministry with us.

Curmudgeons and Pollyannas alike are taking Trustees aside to express delight with the depth, intelligence, and warmth of Rev. Southern’s worship services and with her personal openness, carefulness,  and insight.

These are indeed good times.

 Moderator Galen Workman with SeQueL writing about living in excellent times.

Moderator Galen Workman with SeQueL writing about living in excellent times.

Rev. Alyson Jacks, the Family Ministry leaders, and the classroom teaching teams are making these good times for the newest generation, too. Children and youth are playing and learning in church, classrooms, the gallery, courtyard, and … everywhere! Our thriving Twenties aNd Thirties (TnT) group includes new parents, and  I am thrilled that so many of them are bringing their infants and young children with them when they come to worship services and community gatherings.

Our Sunday services are so good that they’re worthy of inviting your friends to church to experience. Our organ is renovated and its magnificent sound again matches Reiko’s artistic skills. We are meeting together to deepen our religious connections, to make music, to promote justice, and to strengthen our community ties.

Mark Sumner, Saira Malik, Kerry Parker, our sextons, Jonathan Silk, and Nathan Gandrud are all helping us sing out and to get our space, our finances, our means of communicating, and our connecting into order, and their work shows!

These are excellent times!

The Board believes that this is the right moment to examine and reaffirm our community’s mission, vision, and strategic plans. This year we also want to track progress on the Developmental Ministry goals with an emphasis on financial health and lay leadership development.

The Board, Rev. Southern, and Director of Finance and Administration Saira Malik will participate in a facilitated retreat early this month to clarify together who is responsible for doing what at UUSF. In any 167-year-old religious community there are a lot of behaviors and actions that everyone expects but are not written down. A new Senior Minister needs a roadmap of these expectations and some clues about historic landmines lurking along the paths. At the retreat we will be defining the lines of authority and community expectations together. The denomination’s organizational gurus know that codifying the communities assumptions will make Rev. Southern’s ministry more successful, and the Board agrees!

The retreat will also give us a start on thinking about how to get the Congregation talking about the core reasons why we gather as a community. Is our mission still best described as “to be a sanctuary for individual religious growth and learning, to celebrate life and worship in diverse fellowship, to bear witness to suffering and joy, and to work for peace and justice in our world?”  How do we validate that mission? Is there a shared vision of what we do in the world? How do we start planning for our community and building in 10 or 20 years? Is it practical or desirable to plan that far in advance?

While working on grand institutional issues, the Board is also mindful of its responsibility for nearer term fiscal and operational strength.

In September Trustees heard from Stewardship Chair Stephanie Gowin discuss the pledges made to this year’s Operating Fund, plans to make sure we meet the budgeted amount for pledges, upcoming fundraising fun, and the group’s ideas on encouraging legacy gifts.

And, in brief notes: Vice Moderator Carrie Steere-Salazar will be organizing the Council of Committee Chairs when she returns from vacation.  In October the Board will set up a task force to select a Rheiner Award winner. Trustees Gayle Reynolds and Scott Benbow continue to consider approaches to updating governance policies and making minor, scar-tissue removal changes to the Bylaws. And, Board liaisons to committees are sharing updates with all Trustees each month to make sure we continue to support the groups that are making these good times possible.

Please contact me ( or any Trustee if you would like more information on our plans or if you would like to share an opinion on what’s going on in our community.

About Galen Workman

Galen has been a member since 1982. He most recently served on the Board from 2013 - 2018 and as Moderator from 2017-2018. He is also a member of the board of the Hinckley Fund. He has been Moderator, Assistant Moderator, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Board, on a ministerial search committee, active in social justice activities, and on the Nominating Committee. Galen is married and spends time away from church showing his dachshunds and squaredancing.
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