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Budding Hope: Reflections on First Church's Long-Term Vision

Dear First Church,


One of the wisest bits of wisdom I have received and held onto is this: Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years. 


This statement has been attributed to many people: Roy Amara, a Stanford computer scientist in the 60s, Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, and more. And like so many morsels of wisdom, it has been widely attributed and claimed because it speaks to something so true within our experience—a truth that I think is even truer now. We think so much is possible to do quickly. We think change can happen overnight, and we shy away from dreaming big for fear of falling short.

At First Church, we are blessed to be part of building a vast and thriving edifice, an organism of great beauty and complexity. First Church has existed for so long and has grown and changed, transformed over and over, meeting this moment and the next. And we, together, help to shape it. You all help to guide and shape our direction and shared future. 


Last Sunday, we had the most recent meeting in a series of town halls hosted by our Parish Board and Compensation Committee, where we looked at the preliminary staffing plan for the coming year. We didn’t have one just a few years ago, and then we were not fairly compensating our staff, and they wrote a letter asking us to look at that and make it right. The congregation together—you all and others—agreed that this was a priority, and we started taking steps toward fair compensation. Over the ensuing years, we have made solid and intentional strides and have increased compensation and benefits by more than $100,000, which is wonderful. 


I am so grateful to everyone on the Compensation Committee. The draft budget numbers shared at the latest Town Hall continue this trajectory, both by having all the staff’s salaries at the midpoint or higher in the UUA guidelines and by expanding benefits. Not only are we making health care reimbursements available to more staff, but we are also adding dental insurance as an option. We have also expanded the time allocated for communications, which has been a direct result of the feedback we have received from you all through our Committee on Ministry listening circles. I am so grateful for our Committee on Ministry and the creative ways they elicit feedback.


This year, we are very excited for a survey. If you haven’t filled one out, please do! You can do so here


It is a crucial communication loop, so please take the few minutes required to let us know about your impressions and feelings. This is one way you help shape our goals and priorities. Together, we can dream boldly about the next ten years, mindful of this moment and this year, while holding the wide and vast expanse of the distant future. So much is possible. 


Outside my house is a favorite cherry tree. And I love the refulgent moments that are on the way, the impossible blanket of delicate blossoms, and the magical moments later in the spring when the blossoms rain down in the breeze. Those are beautiful. This moment, too, is powerful. The buds are just now appearing, promising flowers, preparing for their big moments. 


I feel that First Church is in such a moment, with so much budding and many long-term efforts starting to come into their fullness. Especially notable are the strides we are making toward providing our staff with fair wages and comprehensive benefits, and so toward becoming the kind of employer we want to be. This is a budding effort, and it will take time to flower, but we will get there, and in the meantime, the progress is sweet to watch. 


Before the Annual Meeting in June, we will have another Town Hall to dig into a more detailed budget, so stay tuned. And for now, enjoy this budding and blossoming spring. 


So much love to you all, 

Rev. Chris


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