June 8th, 2014–Love Makes a Way!

For just over ten years the Tree of Life congregation has actively supported marriage equality in McHenry County (and beyond!) On Sunday, June 8th at 10:45 a.m. we will celebrate with the happy couples as they join their lives in LEGAL marriage. Rev. Sean will officiate and the service will be followed by a reception with food, beverages, wedding cake, and dancing. Come help us celebrate love, commitment, and equality! Flowers provided by Twisted Stem. Music and dancing provided by Alan Perri of AGPmobile.

If you would like to donate to help us celebrate, please click on the donate button.

Intern Insights: Leaving

I am down to the last few weeks of my internship with both Tree of Life, the congregation and Rev. Sean. This has been a wonderful experience for me and I have so many people to thank for helping me navigate through these last nine months. It is with great sadness that I will be leaving you as I have come to enjoy the time I have spent with you and will miss seeing your smiling faces on Sunday mornings and at other times.

There are rules that are set by the Unitarian Universalist Association that govern my actions as I leave you. The toughest of these rules are one that dictates that for one year after I leave I must not maintain any contact with the members of the congregation. Although I will find this a very hard rule to comply with I also understand that there is a period of grief that comes with my leaving. I have, as I look forward to June 1, begun the grieving process and I know this will be hard for me as well as for the congregation.

If you find that I have “unfriended” you from Facebook, please do not be offended, it is just part of the process. I hope that after my year is up I will be able to drop by Tree of Life for a visit and I hope to see all of your smiling faces again.

That being said, there are always exceptions to the rules. The Worship Arts committee has invited me to preach four Sundays during Rev. Sean’s summer leave and I have agreed. We have yet to firm up dates but keep watching the Church Happenings and you will find me there. This will extend my year of absence but it will make the leaving easier.

Thank you to everyone at Tree of Life and a special thanks to Rev. Sean for allowing me this great opportunity.

From The Board: April Congregational Conversation

This month’s conversation was attended by approximately 20 people and covered these topics:

Same sex wedding ceremony
Rev. Sean announced that the service on June 8 would be devoted to a wedding ceremony for same sex couples. This is one joyous way we can act on our principles and provide a wonderful service for same sex couples who would like to be married in a church. The service will be followed by a celebration with cake, appetizers, and perhaps even music and dancing. Rev Sean asks us if we know any same sex couples who might be interested to please let them know that this service is available. Invitations are being sent to local dignitaries, and the service is being advertised in local media.

Financial concerns
The following concerns and information were shared

  • We are slipping in our pledge donation. We’re not reaching and serving new people, and we have the world to offer! A pledge should be considered an obligation, not a choice.
  • Membership does have obligations. This pledging cycle saw 88% of our membership pledging, that is more than in recent years. We need to trust that people gave what they could.
  • This year we lost 3 pledges (2 to death, 1 to resigning) that totaled $15,000. There are 23 other we received last year that we haven’t received this year (2 moved, 1 resigned, 20 others members or friends) which totaled an additional $17,000. (These figures have been corrected from what was reported at the conversation.)
  • Pledging is a plan, and we write our budget from that plan. It is very hard to write a budget on what has been pledged. Any increase people could make to their pledges would be very welcome.
  • Our system of funding the church has “structural problems.” We need to educate the congregation. Many people don’t know enough about end of life planning, and they are holding on to their money. People need to give out of vision and commitment and the correct structures aren’t in place for them to do that.
  • We should be doing more with our endowment fund. We could use the income from our endowment for new programs or social justice.

Rummage Sale
Rummage Queen, Her Highness Judy Stettner reported that if the rummage sale is to be a success, everyone is going to have to pitch in. There are still many time slots to fill–Please sign up! There will be lots of PR for the sale, and Judy asks that people take flyers and post them in community locations.

Membership Development
The Membership Development committee announced it will be instituting a “buddy system” for newcomers. Newcomers will be assigned a buddy who will make sure to greet them and spend time with them after church, let them know about special events and services, and follow up with them if they stop attending church. The MD committee is looking for volunteers to act as buddies. It is the goal of this program that eventually all members will be assigned a buddy.

Please join us for the next Congregational Conversation on May 18!