This month, we offer an article by Rev. Theresa Soto as food for thought. Her article is especially relevant in this moment. In December, UUA Board of Trustees member Christina Rivera resigned, after a year in which she and her family received threats, most likely from within the Unitarian Universalist community, as a result of her voicing concerns about racial discrimination within the UUA. Christina’s son, a youth in a leadership role, was a target of one of these threats while he and other youths were visiting Boston. (The UU World covered this and linked UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray’s response.)
Soto’s article addresses how the Unitarian Universalist Association and UU congregations are confronting (or not confronting) white supremacy in our beloved community. It points out that taking things for granted (and assuming “a perceived problem” will disappear) sets a course of action that ignores the rights of people who do not receive equal privileges.
In this month of Possibility, Rev. Soto’s piece, while grappling with difficult issues, is a profoundly optimistic piece – optimistic because Rev. Soto and many others choose to address head-on the issues that impact our congregations and community. This is an act of Possibility, a belief that we can do better, that the journey is not at an end, that with faith in our covenantal community, we can grow into our promise. It is our hope that we may all read Soto’s words with an openness to hearing difficult truths and to imagining a better path forward.
Search Team Update
– Stacy Duffy
This month we are entering the INTERVIEWS stage of the search for our new minister. We have completed our congregational record – the long and detailed story of our church. We posted it online on December 2nd for prospective ministers to review.
In January, we will be evaluating interested ministers’ packets and conducting interviews. We have created interview questions that represent your major desires and interests.
During this time, we cannot communicate details of the ministers with whom we are in contact. We are doing this to keep confidentiality for the ministers who are currently serving a congregation. Their congregations probably don’t know that they are in search. If they are not chosen to relocate to a new congregation, they can continue without affecting their current position. For now, we will keep you posted on our progress in general terms.
Introducing David Duvall, Director of Music
I’ve been asked to introduce myself to you, to give you the chance to get to know me professionally a bit. I grew up not far from here – in the Eastgate community of Bellevue. I graduated from Newport High School in 1975, and I went right to work as a professional musician, arranger, orchestrator – doing a lot of writing and accompanying for nightclub performers and small theatres.
Over the years there were some wonderful “chapters”: running my own theatre company in Bellingham for 4 years; running away from home when I was 22 to live in Miami for a while; being part of a huge boom in new musicals in the Seattle theatre community; arranging and playing countless new shows for Seattle Children’s Theatre; doing several projects for television (two of which netted me Emmy nominations for Best Original Score); almost deciding to leave music and theatre to become a minister; touring the country with the Montana Rep Theatre for seven months; running a community theatre in Tacoma for two years; forming my own production company and 9-piece orchestra that performs songs from The Great American Songbook; and recently embracing my own voice as both a songwriter and a singer and releasing four CD’s as a recording artist (after producing several recording projects for other entertainers over the years).
I committed myself to writing and recording music that focuses on the positives in life – including finding the collateral beauty that exists even in the most challenging of life’s difficulties. My music reflects my belief that all religions are part of the same “elephant,” if you will (hopefully you are familiar with that great Eastern fable), and that human experiences don’t differ very much when it comes to love, relationships of all kinds, parenting, self-examination, etc. I keep my music accessible to people of any (or no) faith or spiritual concept, to celebrate all that we all have in common, regardless of faith or ethnic background. My off-color sense of humor is on display in at least one song on every CD, and throughout my concerts. I’m a firm believer that one can be both naughty and spiritual without offending the Universe.
Stylistically I believe music itself is also one big elephant, and I do not stay within the limits of one particular style. My recordings and concerts change musical genres at almost every turn – which is great if you like variety, but challenging if you’re trying to market me into a salable category.
I’m first and foremost an orchestrator – started doing that when I was 9 years old – so I most often perform with “tracks,” the instrumentals from my recordings without my recorded vocal performance on top of them. When you hear me sing at a service or concert, you’re hearing what is on the recording that I’ve made – with the BEST players and backing vocalists around! I figure these recordings cost me thousands of dollars to create, I may as well use them and give the audiences a chance to enjoy them as well! What you are hearing when I perform with tracks is my recordings live. Much better than just me at a piano!
I am doing my premiere concert at NUUC on Sunday, January 13 at 5:00pm. It’ll be 90-minutes of fun, inspiration and comfort – primarily with my original songs, but I always record at least one song that everyone knows on my CD’s, and some of those will be included in the concert as well. We’ve kept the ticket price at “whatever works for you.” The suggested donation is $15 per person, but you’re welcome to just toss in a $20 bill when the hat is passed. If that’s out of your personal budget, come and donate $5 or just come and sit and enjoy what I have to share with you. MONEY IS NOT AN OBSTACLE HERE! Through my songs you’ll learn a bit more about me, and hopefully learn a bit more about yourself. You will laugh, you might shed a tear (in a good way), and I can promise you that you will feel better and uplifted when you leave!
– David Duvall
Each year, typically at the April Congregational Meeting, the Nominating Committee recommends candidates to fill seats on the Northlake Board of Trustees, and Northlake’s members then elect representatives to the Board.
Are you curious about what the Board does for Northlake? At a high level, the Board works – in partnership with the Minister and staff – to oversee all aspects of congregational life, ensuring that we are in alignment with our mission and vision. More specifically, they…
• Develop strategies. The Board develops and executes plans for achieving our long-term goals, such as those in the Northlake Long-Range Plan. For major decisions, the Board holds congregational meetings so members can provide input and vote.
• Ensure compliance and governance. The Board ensures we comply with the laws affecting a church, and develop and implement internal policies as needed (such as our Bylaws, and our Healthy Congregation and Safe Congregation Policies).
• Develop and oversee the budget. The day-to-day financial transactions are handled by our Administrator (Sandy), with monthly reports done by our accounting team (501 Commons), and oversight by the Treasurer (Wess). The Board reviews monthly reports and sets the budget for the year. This includes decision-making on items with key budgetary impacts, such as staff compensation, facilities, and major tenants.
• Oversee major staffing decisions. In a UU congregation, a settled minister is chosen by the full congregation, with the support of a search team. But when an interim minister is needed, it’s often on short notice. Consequently, the hiring process is handled by the Board with support from other church members. For other staff positions, such as Music Director, an ad hoc committee of members usually handles the interviews and makes a recommendation. The final decision is jointly made by the Minister and the Board. Day-to-day supervision of staff is done by the Minister.
• Approve membership and foster leadership. The Board votes to approve new church members, helps to recruit and mentor new leaders, and approves the chairs of church teams, committees, and affiliated groups. The Board helps provide leadership and support for church activities.
• Take point on communications and crises. At Sunday services, you may have seen a green cloth marking a seat that says Board Member in Charge. There is always a designated board representative at each service. If you have questions or concerns to bring to the Board, you can speak to the BMiC. They are also there to manage and problem-solve any unexpected situations that arise. Should a medical crisis occur or if there are major facilities issues, they can help facilitate a rapid response. In case of an emergency, they would help to guide an evacuation of the building.
• Foster congregational health. The Board keeps an eye on congregational well-being, helping to resolve conflicts, address concerns, and work to create a vibrant and welcoming community that feeds the human spirit and lights a beacon for love and justice.
Current members of the Board include: Chris Knowlton, President; Chris Conrad, Vice President; Janelle Durham, Secretary, Wess Wessling, Treasurer; Chris Hoge, Jenny Mason, and Pat Tuton. Rev. Jim is an ex officio member of the Board. Board members serve a two-year term and can be elected to a second term.
Are you interested in being on the Board, or have someone you’d like to nominate? Please reach out to our nominating committee: Bobbie Alicen, Cyndy Jones, and Pat Tuton.
Board meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the conference room. Members are always welcome to attend in person or via Zoom web-conferencing using your landline, computer, or mobile device. (Let us know if you plan to attend by Zoom.)
January Highlights at Northlake UU!
An exciting set of Sunday messages will be given at Northlake during January!
January 6, “2018: Adieu, Fare Thee Well,” a Jazz Funeral for 2018. The Portage Bay Big Band will share selections from a New Orleans Jazz Funeral. In the first of our messages on possibility, everyone present can “let go” of a something troublesome from the past year, a good start on the road to new possibilities. Hope you can join us for a great musical service to start off the new year.
January 13, “Trailblazers: A Modern Herstory” features a look at current leaders in the push for equal rights. Several Northlake members will share insights on a person who is featured in Blair Imani’s text Modern Herstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History. This is a great chance to learn about those who are reshaping the possibilities for the world to come.
January 20, “An Orientation Toward Love” will feature the many ways that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s message was oriented toward love. Even as he feared for his death, Dr. King continued to dream of the possibility of a better life to come. Yet, we also realize that we are still here and that it will take our efforts to usher in a better world for all.
January 27, “The Future Is Not What It Was,” guest speaker Carl Schwartz. Looking into the future has always fascinated people. The earliest artifacts from Chinese pre-history are the inscribed “oracle bones.” We will look at three relatively recent eras, the 1890’s with writers predicting optimistic and hopeful times to come, the “between the wars” period culminating in the “World of the Future” theme of the New York World’s Fair, and the now ironic “post war” period with its more sober predictions of “Silent Spring,” “1984,” and the various “limits to growth” including repercussions of global warming. Our challenge is to recognize and work to meet these challenges of the “future.”
And to start February:
February 3, “Transcendentalism and the Cultivation of the Soul,” guest speaker the Reverend Dr. Barry Andrews. The Transcendentalists—Emerson, Thoreau and Margaret Fuller among them—are living voices whose writing is addressed as much today as it was in their time to spiritual seekers such as ourselves. In Transcendentalism we can discover a uniquely and authentically Unitarian Universalist form of spirituality.
Reverend Dr. Barry Andrews is Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock on Long Island, New York. He has written books on and edited anthologies of Transcendentalist writers, including Emerson, Thoreau and Margaret Fuller. His latest book is Transcendentalism and the Cultivation of the Soul, published by the University of Massachusetts Press. He and his wife, Linda, are currently living on Bainbridge Island.
January Congregational Meeting – January 27
Join us as we participate, vote, and learn at the Congregational Meeting on January 27, 12:00-12:55.
After the January 27 service, please grab coffee and a snack and join us to cover important business!
- Find out how our Ministerial Search is going and what’s coming up next
- Review and vote on the proposed Congregational Covenant (see below)
- Get a quick update on our tools for staying in covenant with each other
Northlake Covenant of Right Relations [Proposed]
As individual people working together to form an inclusive, joyful, and sacred community, we commit to this covenant:
- We will offer acceptance and support to all, giving and receiving with grace and gratitude.
- We will listen with compassion and speak with honesty and respect.
- We will acknowledge our feelings and take responsibility for the impact of our actions.
- We will welcome the open-hearted exchange of perspectives while respecting personal boundaries.
- We will address conflicts directly, give the benefit of the doubt, and forgive ourselves and each other.
By honoring these commitments, we foster an empowered Northlake community, promoting love, equity, and justice in the world.
Have questions? Please write to Chris Knowlton at firstname.lastname@example.org.