Last January, UUUF entered into its 30th year of serving as a source of religious inspiration and inquiry for the east side of Central Florida. Thanks to our volunteers who assure our Zoom and YouTube presence, we are finding we are able to touch people beyond our geographic boundaries. 

While many smaller UU congregations across the country are shutting their doors, we continue to grow in membership and enthusiasm. Again, this is thanks to the many volunteers who make up our Marketing and Membership committees as well as those who lead our interesting programming, from our book club, our meditation group, men’s and women’s groups, choir, etc.  And of course, it goes without saying that the hiring last April of our RE Coordinator, James McDevitt-Phelps, and the tireless efforts of our classroom teachers has generated renewed interest in what UUUF has to offer to families with young children.  We are close to receiving the designation of a Welcoming Congregation which, along with concerted efforts, means we will be a more inviting home for our LGBTQA+ siblings. 

Within our boundaries (i.e. the walls of our church property), we have also seen many changes that have expanded our capacity to serve our community.  We have a new renter in the RE building who is providing home-school enrichment programs for youth in our area.  While your contributions served to help upgrade the flooring, the renter contributed considerable support for interior and exterior (playground) upgrades.  Our new carpeting and tiling make our main building more inviting (shout-out to the ad hoc flooring committee). This year, we had to replace an air conditioner and fix two others.  Who thought that, in Florida, heating would be our biggest problem?  And soon we will have an upgraded IT system that will facilitate seamless communications for our staff as well as for our online service broadcasts.  

We have had several fun events this last year at church thanks to the auction committee, including a murder mystery party, a beer tasting, and a game night. James organized the first ever UUUF campout with great success as well as a trip to the Zoo with the RE families.  

Later this year, we will be saying goodbye to our minister, the Rev. Dr. Tracie Barrett.  It is not clear yet when or if we will have a new minister.  We have a lay-led tradition and it’ is very difficult to find qualified ministers who are willing and able to work only part-time or on a contract basis.  But as always, members of our Program Team will continue to find vibrant, paid, speakers and organize lay-led services that enrich our spiritual experience. 

Our pledge season this year will culminate in an auction to be held on April 14th after the morning service. The Auction Team is already preparing all the exciting offerings. The focus this year will be on events, rather than on items. I personally attended many of the events offered last year; all were incredibly fun and allowed me to get closer to other church members. 

For this coming pledge drive, we need your continued support to keep expanding beyond our boundaries. We want to bring in more exciting programs and speakers, all of which have a cost. We want to do more paid social media to widen our reach. We want to be able to give our staff raises to be more in line with the fair wage standards of the UUA. We also need to continue to maintain and improve our buildings. We hope to provide some upgrades to security and safety in the coming year.  Every dollar raised will make a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve.  We do good work, and your support is critical to being able to continue that good work.

It is important to remember that we come from a congregationalist tradition. That means we here at the church level are responsible for maintaining everything. Most of us here now, with just a few exceptions, were not here when this place was founded. We are fortunate enough to inherit it and now it is our turn to make sure it thrives and helps break down boundaries in our community.   

With gratitude,

Your UUUF Board

Anne Packham, President

Laurie Strehl, Secretary

Melanie Iriye, Treasurer

Martha Kirby, Past President

Derek Catlin, Trustee

Happy Amein, Trustee

Michelle Flores, Trustee