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this issue 1-3 Senior Minister Report 4 Moderator Report 4-5


Rev. Jeffrey Dodson

“I [am] in them and you [are] in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” - John 17:23 Greetings to our members and friends of First Congregational United Church of Christ! The past year has been exceptional, and the reports you will find presented in our 2018 Annual Report offer a summary of who our church is and what we have accomplished together during the past 12 months of ministry. At the beginning of 2017, the national office of the United Church of Christ revealed refreshed mission, vision, and purpose statements to help guide our church in our future ministry together: Purpose: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Vision: United in Christ's love, a just world for all. Mission: United in Spirit and inspired by God's grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all. The work that we have accomplished throughout our 2017-2018 program year aligns well with these statements. We seek as a congregation to be a welcoming and loving place for all God’s people. We seek to be a congregation focused on doing kindness and bringing about greater justice for the Grand Valley and the world. One of the biggest highlights of the year was hosting the inaugural Carolyn and Chuck Holmgren Lectureship at First Congregational UCC in April. Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite presented on 1

Worship & Celebration 5 Spiritual Formation 5-6 Congregational Life 6 Property Report 7 Mission & Outreach Justice Action Ministry 8 Proposed Council Meeting Agenda

the topic of Public Theology and was well received with over 100 attendees over the 3 day lectureship. She invigorated our sense of call to be a people of progressive faith in the world, and to advocate and speak faithfully and powerfully about the things that matter to us as progressive Christians. Her presentation sparked passion and a renewed sense of community engagement in our congregation. I would like to offer a special thank you to Carolyn Holmgren who offered wisdom and support throughout our first Holmgren Lectureship. We could not have done this work without you! We will welcome Rev. Dr. John Dominic Crossan to speak at our Holmgren Lectureship on May 4-5, 2019. Dr. Crossan is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. His presentation will tie into his newly published book, Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision. Throughout the next year, we will be preparing for Dr. Crossan’s arrival by reading and engaging his works, including his newest book, as well as The Historical Jesus, and How to Read the Bible and Still Be A Christian. Our Adult Education program in 20182019 will include conversations and videos on Dr. Crossan’s work as the leading historical Jesus scholar in the world. Meanwhile, our congregation engaged learning and faith in new and exciting ways this past year. Our programs last year included my installation on August 26, blessing our new Pastoral Care Team on September 24, a blessing of the animals worship service on October 1, an Accessible to All worship service October 8, a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on October 29 with pinning the 95 Theses on a door and a chili cookoff, and the kickoff of our 2018 Stewardship campaign: Grounded in Faith, Growing to Serve. In November we had a Thanksgiving Day Potluck with the Unitarian Universalists, and recognized World AIDS Day in worship on November 26. In December we celebrated the season of Advent with the theme of messengers who tell us #DoNotBeAfraid. The first part of 2018 was filled with guest preachers while I was away on paternity leave. In March we looked at the poetry of Mary Oliver during Lent, and then welcomed Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite for the first Holmgren Lectureship April 13-15, 2018. Ministry Teams of First Congregational UCC have continued to shape and reflect the overall ministry of our church. Ministry teams are healthy and representing our congregation well out in the wider community. Significant growth was seen in the work and vitality of our Mission and Outreach Team, and our Spiritual Formation and Education Team worked to hire additional staff to fulfill roles in our ministry with children and youth. In May of 2017 our church voted to become Accessible to All, a designation in the UCC which means that we take seriously the task of including all people, regardless of ability or disability, into the full life and ministry of the church. In October we dedicated a new hand railing in the sanctuary which assists all people in safely climbing the stairs to our chancel. I would like to extend a special thanks to Mark Long for his craftsmanship in building the railing, and to Karen Caton in leading our congregation through the A2A process. There is still more work to be done in making our congregation accessible, and it will be a continuous process as we seek to be a welcoming and safe place for all God’s people. Our congregation has seen a number of staff departures, and we have also welcomed additional new staff members to the team. Our Office Administrator Amanda Helmick left in June 2017. Ashley Dodson and Leslie Harlan served in the Office throughout the remainder of 2017. In early 2018, we welcomed Beth Rakestraw as our new Office Administrator.


In October the Associate Minister position was cut which meant Dan Wilkie who served in that position faithfully for 10 years was let go from his service to the church. He now works with HopeWest Hospice as a full-time Chaplain. We hired three new part-time staff members at the end of April, 2018: Kaleb Hinkle, Youth Director; Marie Koontz, Interim Education Director; and Ashlyn Martinez, Nursery Attendant. Our long-time Facilities Manager of 10-years, Carolyn Van Matre, stepped down from the position to focus on caring for her family. We are in the process of hiring a new Facilities Manager. During my paternity leave from December 11, 2017 to January 20, 2018, I had incredible assistance from the lay leadership of the church that enabled me to take the time off for our family to welcome our twin daughters, Eleanor and Frances. The opportunity and ability to take those 6 weeks off from work was an incredible gift, and I give this congregation my heartfelt thanks and gratitude. Special thanks goes to the Worship & Celebration Ministry Team, Martha Jones, Pam Gregory, Mark Long, Brian Mahoney, Julie Krueger, the Church Council, our Pastoral Care Team – Andrea Leak and Shoshonah Woolf – and Moderator Heidi Hess. Our church handled my time away with exceptional grace, and for this I am extremely proud. Membership in the church has continued to grow at a steady pace. Since our past Annual Meeting last May, we welcomed 6 new members in 2017 – Katelynn Marth, Eric Reed, Pam & Kelly Gregory, Norma Roscoe, and Scott Bailey – and 12 new members with several children just in our April joining class – Beth Rakestraw & Beverly Fernsemer, Caroly Oglesby, Janet Spomer, Michael Petri, Russell & Marilyn Day, Janeen Detrick & Paul Quilter, Gage Bailey & Lilly Hart & kids Christian & Jackson, and Erica Hobbs – for a total of 18. We had 1 Baptism for Chloe Pierce, the infant daughter of Katie & Bill Pierce, 1 Wedding, 1 Commitment ceremony, and 4 Funerals for members and 1 Funeral for a friend of the church. Those who died in the last year include Marion Broughton, Alvera Lowe, Jennie Hemborg, Kassie Seppa, and Mary Rutz. Several members moved away and have transferred their membership, and we wish them God’s grace and blessings. Our congregation continues to be a rainbow for justice in the Grand Valley, stretching colorfully across the community sharing our love for God and ALL God’s people. It is a delight to lead this congregation and provide spiritual leadership to our members and friends, and I am grateful for the faithfulness and audacity with which our church and its members, each of you, share God’s extravagant welcome to all. May we continue to seek A just world for all in all that we do, in all that we believe, and in all that we are. Yours in Christ, Rev. Jeffrey Dodson



Heidi Hess

Dear Congregation, I have been honored to be the moderator of this congregation at First Congregational United Church of Christ - Grand Junction for the last year. As I write my last thoughts and musings in this position, so many things this year come to mind - losing dear members of this church as they move on to other places, welcoming new babies to our lives, all the new faces we are seeing and facing old and new challenges. I am proud of us as a church. We are growing and our commitment to not only each other, but also our community at large and around the world is sometimes overwhelming with joy and true awe at all our little congregation accomplishes. We are strong in our faith. Strong in our passions. Strong in our support. Strong in our gifts. Strong in our joy. The blessings of this opportunity are enormous and I know we will continue on the path we are on now as an all-inclusive Christ-centered faith community called to love, worship and grow. Mark Long will be taking the position of Moderator at our Annual Meeting in May and I know we will all support him as we have supported myself and those that came before me. Mark - you are in for a true treat as Moderator. You will experience a wealth of love and patience and learn more than you ever expected to; and I know you will bring us every one of the many gifts you have. Thank you everyone and blessings! Heidi


Karen Caton

The primary task of the Worship & Celebration Team is to assist in planning our worship services and related tasks that need to happen for each service. This runs the gamut from ordering special candles for Advent, palm branches for Palm Sunday, how we will do Communion each month, flowers, decorating the sanctuary, scheduling liturgists and Ministers of Extravagant Welcome, to working with pulpit supply ministers when Jeffrey cannot be with us - and much more. There is quite a variety of tasks that need to happen each and every week. On-going review and refinement is always the goal. We began 2017 by serving as the umbrella team that worked with the group to prepare FCUCC to become an Accessible To All (A2A) congregation - which was approved at the Annual Meeting in January 2017. We introduced a new tri-fold format for our worship bulletin in February last year. The bulk of our year essentially revolves around planning for the different liturgical seasons and special events. Lent and Easter services are always a highlight with planning extra special events, decorations, and music; then there's Pentecost Eastertide, Thanksgiving, World Communion Sunday, Maundy Thursday just to mention a few. We continue to look for ways to involve more members in worship - whether it is reading poetry, serving as a liturgist, assisting with communion, running the sound system, greeting folks as they come in our building, etc. We discuss and plan new ways to hold worship - i.e. summer worship in Sherwood Park, outside by the labyrinth, etc. We had the joy of helping plan Jeffery's official Installation Service last year. It is always fun, and a challenge to find ways to kick off each new program year and then culminate the calendar year with meaningful Advent and Christmas worship. This year, we also had the challenge of planning worship during Jeffrey's Paternity Leave! It is always a blessing to see the many different ways this group, as well as this entire faith community, step up to the plate to make things happen and create meaningful worship for all of us!


The Worship & Celebration Team for this past year consisted of Martha Jones, Carolyn Ramsey, Nancy Hoefer, Sheri Schmidt, Karen Caton, and Jeffrey Dodson. The team members change a little bit with each passing year, so we are always looking for new members and their ideas. Either to serve as a regular member of the W&C Team, or to step up to help coordinate a specific task that needs to be done - either way works for us!! My heartfelt thanks to all of these W&C Team members and those who have helped throughout the year. You are what make this place special!! Blessings, Karen Caton Worship & Celebration Team, Chair


Marie Koontz & Andrea Leak

With the excellent guidance and vision of Reverend Jeffrey Dodson, Christian Education has been building and developing programs for children, youth and adults. Recent staff additions are helping to grow the programs. The part time positions: Christian education coordinator: Marie Koontz, whose knowledge and experience with children's Christian education is priceless. Youth leader: Kaleb Hinkle who's energy and commitment is currently focused on fun team building activities and fundraising as the youth prepare to attend the UCC Western Regional Youth event in Hawaii. Nursery Attendant: Ashlyn Martinez, who gently and professionally cares for the infants and toddlers in the nursery during worship service. In addition, Ashley Dodson agreed to lead the Spiritual Formation and Education Team. We look forward to her leadership in developing the volunteer support needed to build and maintain vibrant programs. Marie Koontz and Andrea Leak


Chris Coolidge

Meeting: Second Tuesday of the Month at 10:00 a.m., in the Church Library Members: As of December 31, 2017: Ken Puhler, Carolyn Holmgren, Mary Willkie (through June 2017); added Fall 2017: Marie Koontz, Gail Gordon; Jean Yale and Jeffrey Dodson, as their schedules allow We came. We cooked. We learned. We ate. We cleaned up. Here’s when:       

July 30, Fifth Sunday: FCC meets for Church and “Greens and Sweets” (salads and desserts) Picnic at Sherwood Park August 26: Reception for Jeffrey’s Installation, with noon luncheon for his family, friends and church family September 10: Beginning of Church program year, Sunday School registration, potluck lunch October 6 – 7: Rocky Mountain Conference retreat at FCC (dinner on 10/6, breakfast and lunch, 10/7. Prepared by FCC, funded by Silverton Congregation) October 15: Shower for Dodson’s new babies (not officially Cong. Life, though all the committee members helped) November 23: Joint Thanksgiving Dinner with UUCGV – a delicious success! December 24: Christmas Eve Services, reception 5

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January 21: Multi-cultural potluck luncheon to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Fridays, February 24 – March 23: Congregational Life-sponsored “Friday Movie Night,” focusing on social justice issues, with lemonade and popcorn April 1: Easter Social Hour, with holiday breads, cakes and cookies April 13 – 15: Holmgren Lectureship: prepare (13th) and serve lunches for Saturday, April 14; help with reception that evening at Spyglass Hill Community Center; provide hospitality after Sunday service and Dr. T’s Q&A’s, April 15 April 29: Fifth Sunday Potluck: Theme of the potluck – food beginning with F – C – C, or one of those letters. Clever names, delicious food! May 4: Luncheon for Church Women United: We provided setups, beverages and serving space; they provided a potluck.

No further plans for May. Best of all? We had a LOT of fun working together – this is on a very short list for THE Best Committee in the Church! Chris Coolidge, For FCC Congregational Life


Brian Mahoney

This team is the sole responsible group for property and financial matters. There are 5 members; Dave Hoefer, Julie Krueger, Cindy Haas, Martha Jones and Brian Mahoney as Chairman. Jeffrey and Mark attend as ex-officio members We have had the luxury of a tenured Maintenance Engineer in Carolyn VanMatre. She was a conscientious experienced employee who did a great job handling the many issues in our buildings. Alas Carolyn resigned recently and Jeffrey and the personnel committee are interviewing candidates. We had one expensive concern this past year, the CE Bldg. roof. We spent about $11,000 reroofing the SW side of the roof which has been incurring wind damage for many years. We also are going to try to glue and roll those bumps on the carpet near the hall fountain which wrinkled after the drinking fountain leaked. Here’s a list of our other various maintenance jobs:  Xcel did an energy survey for us resulting in many recommendations to the inside and outside lights. Those changes were reviewed and new lighting using LED bulbs has been finished. Thanks to Dave Hoefer for this effort.  We have ongoing issues with the Pergola over the Columbarium. We will attack that in the Fall.  We are working on hooking up with Charter Communication for new internet and telephone connection. We will have a written bid soon and will install this hardware which will save good money  We signed a lease for a new copy machine, which will save money over the previous. We also purchased a new computer for Beth. With new Wi-Fi and better equipment, efficiency rises.  Many little repairs were done on the outside. The Sprinklerman has done some good stuff fixing our homemade system.  We signed a lease with a new tenant in the CE building which is now full. Nice to reach full earnings potential. Otherwise, things are pretty smooth thanks to Carolyn. The CE Bldg is earning us some $26,000 in rental income, less 1800 in Property tax the State requires us to pay for that rented space. It’s worth the effort. The roof over the offices and gathering space is 1 year old with a 15 year Guarantee, and Kruger roofing handles any leaks. We have a schedule of usage charges should anyone want to rent space in the Main Bldg. Beth has that schedule and rental agreements. That’s all Folks ! BP Mahoney, Chmn. 6


Mary Endres

We continue to give to the Five FCCUCC Mission collections, also the Christmas offering to AIDS. This year we participated in Sharefest and plan to do so in the future. In the spring of 2017, we established a table to collect needed items for The House, Clifton Christian Church Free Store, Knitting for Peace, Hilltop’s LAP program, This Little Light of Mine badges, children’s books for Catholic Outreach, the Migrant Center and books for the jail. We have made several distributions to these causes and well as the Food Bank. The table was messy and difficult to move so we purchased two shelves. These are located in the Gathering Place. Some programs have been added. Mission and Outreach began to select some causes to receive a monthly donation of $100. Kong Vong sent money to her sister-in-law, a teacher in Thailand. She bought clothes for four of her students. Kathy Viglianco took the money for the Foundation for Cultural Exchange to students in Grand Junction’s sister city in El Salvador. Last May, we gave the Migrant Center $100 as well as items for health kits with Church Women United, as we have this year. We sent $100 to Discoverability to help purchase helmets for the disabled. On three evenings at the Downtown Farmer’s Market, we distributed almost 300 gun trigger locks plus gun safety rules, cards for suicide prevention and cards for our church. We have given twice to The House. The last time, we also gave 260 burritos. We made a donation to Latimer House (domestic violence) plus several packages of underpants. Our Christmas tree was loaded with hats, scarves, socks, and mittens. We took them to the Homeless Shelter and Catholic Outreach. We gave money to the Collbran Congregational Church and collected warm coats for them to give away at the Hardware Store. Twice, we have filled grocery bags with food for April Food’s Day and delivered them to the downtown Vineyard Church. In January, we gave $100 to CEC (Counseling and Education Center). February, we gave the $100, plus we collected $300 to be used for bus passes which they can purchase at a discounted rate. We made a donation to RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) plus, 18 items of home maintenance.


Mary Sealing

Ken Puhler and Mary Sealing continue to represent our church on the InterFaith Coalition. This is a group of four faith communities working to find a project which addresses racism, diversity and inclusivity issues in the Grand Valley. We are using a multi-step process which is deliberate and slow, and which has also suffered several set-backs due to various factors. The group is now interviewing individuals with direct knowledge of the issues. We are developing themes for possible projects concurrently. Mary Sealing went to the first meeting of a new coalition of the various groups in the Grand Valley dedicated to activism and education around climate chaos. She presented the request/suggestion from the National UCC to local churches to either affiliate with a local chapter or to start a church chapter. You can read more about this initiative here. There is a local chapter of, so we have recommended to the Council that our church formalize a relationship with them as requested by the UCC Environmental Justice Ministry. Environmental Justice issues give another opportunity to address critical systemic problems. We need more people involved with this, and hope that this focus and partnership will generate some enthusiasm. We’ll be providing more information soon. Please contact Ken or Mary if you are interested in helping. 7


TEAMS: CONGREGATIONAL LIFE Carolyn Holmgren Chris Coolidge Marie Koontz Gail Gordon Ken Puhler

2018-2019 Jeffrey Dodson

SPIRITUAL FORMATION & EDUCATION Ashley Dodson, Chair Gail Gordon Jeffrey Dodson Carolyn Holmgren WORSHIP & CELEBRATION Carolyn Ramsey, Chair Martha Jones Pam Gregory Jeffrey Dodson PROPERTY & FINANCE Brian Mahoney, Chair Martha Jones David Hoefer Cindy Haas Jeffrey Dodson


MISSION & OUTREACH Mary Endres, Chair Heather Holly Ellen Bradley Linda Randolph Lynn Simpson Julie Krueger JUSTICE ACTION MINISTRY Mary Sealing, Chair Ken Puhler Clee Sealing Andrea Leak Ellen Bradley COMMUNICATIONS TEAM Heidi Hess Jeffrey Dodson Beth Rakestraw

MAY 20, 2018

Call to order and confirmation of quorum

Heidi Hess, Moderator


Rev. Jeffrey Dodson

Approval of Minutes

Carolyn Ramsey

Introduction of outgoing Council Members and Teams and Presentation Regarding Slate of Officers

Rev. Jeffrey & Heidi Hess

Question Period – Council and Team Reports Business Items Open Mic Presentation of Slate of Officers

Carolyn Ramsey, Clerk

Introduction of new Council Members and Team Leaders Adjourn 8

Heidi Hess, Outgoing Moderator


W h o eve r yo u a r e, w h er eve r yo u ar e o n l i f e’ s j o u r n ey, yo u ar e we l c o m e he re !



MAY 2018

First Congregational


2018 may annual report  
2018 may annual report