Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
of the Eastern Slopes
UUFES History 1979-2003
By Roderick Forsman - Revised and Updated March 2003
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Part I: Prelude To a First Annual Meeting
A. Predecessor - 1960's
B. Phoenix Rises - 1979-1980
C. Formative Years - 1980-82
Part II: Principal Activities Through March, 2003
A. How and Where We Have Held Worship Services
B. Membership Records
C. Annual Budgets 1982 and 2002
D. Religious Education Programs
E. The Bylaws: Original, Reviews and Revisions
F. Social Events and Retreats
G. Clergy of the Eastern Slope
H. Special Funds
I. Self Study: Surveys and a Workshop Retreat
J. A Future Home for UUFES
Part III: Passages and Memorials
Part IV: Annual Slates of Officers -OMITTED
Part V: 1998 - Present
B. Social Life
C. Lifespan Religious Education
D. Fundraising and Grants
E. "Vision Quest"
F. Mission Statement
G. A Marriage
H. Efforts Toward A Future Home
I. Search Committee Congregational Survey
I am pleased to offer this revision and updating of my earlier
edition of Two Decades of UUFES: A History of the Unitarian Universalist
Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes 1979-1999, (March, 1999). A great deal
has happened in this Fellowship, and it is important to keep track of
changes so that we have the means of looking back to see and understand
where we have come from as a religious community. A written history
affords that opportunity for each of our current members and friends.
Its value is especially significant, I believe, for all those whose
participation in UUFES is of recent origin.
The enjoyment I have experienced in doing this project has been
greatly enhanced by its bringing into vivid memory all the names, faces
and personalities of those who created the story of UUFES. I am thankful
that some of them are still active participants in this community. Alas,
some have died, others have moved away, and still others I have no idea
of their whereabouts or well-being.
As in the first edition, I have titled this A History rather than The
History to acknowledge the fact that any interpretations, slants and
selectivity imposed upon the material covered reflect one person's
vantage, mine. I am sure also that there are significant omissions, all
inadvertent, and I apologize for any matters that should have received
Special mention must be made of, and appreciation expressed to, C.
Russell Miller who more than anyone else clearly deserves the title
Founding Father of the Fellowship. Part I of the present report is
Russell's "Early History of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
of the Eastern Slopes," with some editing on my part.
The first Annual Meeting of the Fellowship was held on June 27, 1982.
How UUFES had reached that decisive point is described by C. Russell
Miller in the following "Early History" referred to above:
In the 1960's my wife and I with our children were vacationing at
Lovewell Pond in Fryeburg, Maine. We were members of the Unitarian
Society of Ridgewood, New Jersey.
A North Conway newspaper item mentioned a meeting of a Unitarian
Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes. I believe this was about the summer of
1964 and the meeting was to be held at the residence of a dentist (Dr.
Spear) on the West Side Road, North Conway. We decided to attend. (As a
matter of interest it could very well be that the late Kenneth Dole was
also present at that meeting. Ken became a Treasurer and Honorary member
of the current Fellowship.)
In talking with individuals within this small group, we learned that
a few years before, some parents came together to try and provide a more
1iberal religious education for their children. Apparently these were
new families in the North Conway area and many were summer visitors.
Most had previous contact with Unitarianism. Meg Brown was the leader of
the group. She and her husband operated the House of Color Gift Shop in
Intervale, New Hampshire, off Route 16.
During subsequent summers, we made a point to attend meetings of this
group when we could. Everything was informal and generally consisted of
discussions under Meg Brown's leadership. There was an attempt to
provide something in the way of a Sunday School for any children
present, usually in an adjoining room. There appeared to be no official
recognition by the Unitarian Association at that time. They had adopted
the "Unitarian Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes" name which
continues today with "Universalist" included.
Some of the meetings were held at the House of Color and at the
Little White Church in Eaton, New Hampshire, as well as in private
homes. I recall at least one meeting at the Eaton church when a
Unitarian minister from Pennsylvania spoke to us. Our casual involvement
continued in the 1960's until the Fellowship finally disbanded when the
Browns separated and Meg went to California. Thus the first attempt at a
Unitarian Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes ended.
The Miller family became permanent residents of Fryeburg in June of
1973. Lacking any UU church nearby, we attended the local Congregational
church for a while and then decided to drive to Norway, Maine and South
Paris, Maine where the two churches of Universalist backgrounds had a
joint pastorate. We were, however, seeking something more.
In December of 1979 our chance meeting with Irene Coburn, Northeast
District Executive of the UUA prompted us to see what could be done to
re-activate the Universalist chapel in North Fryeburg. The chapel (1838)
had been closed after many years as a community church. Its legal status
was continuing and since it was less than two miles from our home we
thought it a possibility for reinvigoration as an active UU Society.
(There might be good foundation that title to the chapel could be
claimed by the UUA since it was originally built by Universalists.) The
chapel was being cared for as an historical building. Obviously, to
maintain its status as a church and exemption from local property taxes,
it maintained a skeleton slate of officers and held an Annual Meeting.
The church building was opened up by request for weddings, funerals,
etc. A small bank account for the Universalist Parish of North Fryeburg
helped provide for upkeep and repairs to the building.
Seeing in the newspaper a notice of an Annual Meeting of the Chapel
at the home of Mrs. Harold Thurston, Jr. in Stow, Maine, my wife, Janet,
and I decided to attend. At the close of the very brief meeting we
raised the subject of using the Chapel as a new UU Fellowship. The
reaction of the few present was not favorable, primarily because the
Chapel had been closed only finally after a long and frustrating period
of trying to keep active with dwindling membership and resources. There
was definitely not a mood to reverse the situation. It should be
realized that this had been a community church for many years. (The
officers were not Unitarian Universalists, and I would understand, also,
that when the UUA merger took place, the remnants of older Universalist
families did not aspire to join with the Unitarians.) By now, we were
motivated to try and form a UU Fellowship on our own that could be the
resurrection of our predecessor Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes.
Something needed to be done as a matter of fulfillment.
In May of 1980 we placed a box advertisement in the weekly
"Reporter" newspaper of North Conway. The ad was entitled,
"Looking for a Family?" and made the point that a family
experience could be the result if interested people would join together
in a UU Fellowship. The format of the ad was obtained from the UUA at
Beacon St. in Boston. It had a picture of a peace dove. Two immediate
responses encouraged us to set up a meeting at our home on Fish Street
in Fryeburg. On Sunday, June 22, 1980 at 3:00 p.m. six individuals were
at the Miller residence. In addition to the writer and wife, Janet, they
were: Judith H. Soule of Silver Lake, NH (She was the first to arrive);
Judith and Robert Johnson of Jackson, NH; Rev. William Saunders,
Minister of the Brunswick, Maine UU Church and the Extension Minister of
the Northeast District of the UUA.Rev. Will Saunders offered the unique
idea of having a Fellowship that could be associated with both the
Northeast District and the New Hampshire/Vermont District. Anticipated
members would be drawn from Maine and New Hampshire. He readily
concurred with the adoption of our predecessor's name and the acronym
UUFES. At any rate, the start was made as a result of our discussion
together at that meeting on the afternoon of June 22, 1980. We decided
to meet every two weeks on Sundays.
From the summer of 1980 through the fall of 1981, meetings took place
in private homes. We tried to contact potential members. We had no
officers or formality of a service. These were mostly discussions and
sometimes taped sermons were played. During this period, the Carlsons of
Fryeburg became participants. Win Carlson was the Business Manager at
Fryeburg Academy and they had previously had a contact with Unitarianism
in Scituate, Massachusetts.
The Lyle Richardsons of Bald Hill in Conway were interested
attendees, having been active in the Wrentham, MA Unitarian Church.
Judie Johnson had been active in the Marblehead, Mass. Unitarian
Church and her husband was of a liberal persuasion.
The Millers retired from Ridgewood, NJ where for fifteen years they
were members of the Unitarian Society there. Janet was a "Lifetime
Unitarian" from Reading, Mass. and I came out of a Congregational
background. Judy Soule, formerly of the Lynn, Mass. area, was also a
"Lifetime Unitarian"Also, during this period, Judy Soule's
mother, Marilyn McKenna, retired to Albany, NH from the Washington, DC.
area where she attended UU churches (She was able to play recordings of
some of A. Powell Davies' sermons.). On October 4. 1981, the Sunday
meeting was held at the Soule-Lee residence at Silver Lake, NH. This was
the meeting at which a slate of officers was adopted. Previously a
Nominating Committee (Marilyn McKenna, Lyle Richardson, Judie Johnson)
had been put together. The first elected officers of the new UUFES were:
President - Judith Soule Secretary - C. Russell Miller Treasurer - N.
The participants in this organizing meeting were: Judie Johnson,
Linda and Lyle Richardson, Marilyn McKenna, Judy Soule, Janet and Russ
Miller. Each family unit was asked to contribute five dollars and a bank
account was to be established at the White Mountain National Bank in
North Conway. A search began for an appropriate meeting place.
By the time of the Nov. 15, 1981 meeting at Marilyn McKenna's home,
Judy Soule had obtained a sample set of Bylaws of an established UU
Society and this was the basis of our own Bylaw consideration. At this
meeting our UUFES Bylaws were drawn up and those present voted to
proceed to have the Fellowship become a member of the Unitarian
Universalist Association and of the New Hampshire/Vermont District. Also
at this meeting, a membership book was contributed by Judy Soule and
signed by those present. The signers were in the following order: Judith
H. Johnson, Janet P. Miller, Marilyn F. McKenna, Robert 0. Johnson,
Russell Miller, Judith W. Soule
At the December 27. 1981 meeting, six additional became members by
signing the Membership Book. They were: Holly Ann Johnson Linda
Richardson Lyle M. Richardson Elizabeth C. Carlson Winthrop L. Carlson
Mildred P. Boyle
With this total membership of twelve and a contribution of twenty
five dollars, it was decided to make formal application to the UUA for
January 10. 1982 - We were visited by the Rev. David Robbins,
Minister of the Franklin, NH Unitarian Church and NH/VT District
Minister of Extension. He was accompanied by Ruth Macey, member of the
Starr King UU Fellowship of Plymouth, NH and she was one of the founders
of that Fellowship in 1980 (the first new Fellowship in New England for
a long period of time).
February 7. 1982 - Judy Soule reported that notification had been
received from the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the UUA that the
Board had accepted and approved our application at its meeting on
January 29, 1982. Our Treasurer reported that a savings account was
opened at the White Mountain National Bank and that a checking account
would require a minimum balance of $250.00.
February 21. 1982 - President Soule reported that she had received
our Certificate of Fellowship from the UUA and also a report of the
NH/VT District Trustees in which the UUA Board's action in accepting
UUFES in Fellowship is recorded.
April 4. 1982 - At a meeting at the Richardson's home in Albany, NH,
Kenneth and Evelyn Dole, Susan Kuemmerle and Roderick Forsman were
present. (Rod was to become our first Lay Minister.)
April 18. 1982 - Met for the first time at the Sun Room of the North
Conway Memorial Hospital.
May 30. 1982 - Deane Starr, NH/VT District Executive was present and
agreed to arrange for a District loan of $250 to enable us to open a
checking account. Also, the District was to furnish us with a $100 grant
for a series of advertisements.
During the month of September, 1982, a series of ads was placed in
the weekly "Reporter." The ads were obtained from the UUA and
the cost of each of the four was $16.50, financed by the $100 District
grant. As an example, one of the advertisements was a sketch of a
centipede with the question, "What has 100 legs and 50 ideas?"
Answer, "50 Unitarians."
It was during the year 1982 that the District provided us with a
part-time Minister, Rev. J. Chandler Newton of Raymond, NH. This was
funded by the District for a specified limited number of weeks and he
would conduct the service once a month with a sermon. By the time of the
Annual Meeting in June of 1983, it could be said that we were an active
UU Fellowship. For example, the Secretary reported for the prior year
that there had been 20 regular meetings. At five meetings, members
conducted the program and presented a topic. Rev. Newton conducted six
services. Three services were conducted by guest ministers (Rev. Starr,
Rev. Schmauch, Rev. Bertram Steeves). There were six occasions when
taped sermons were used. There were three Executive Committee meetings
during the year and one Special Business Meeting. All regular meetings
were held at the Sun Room. The first annual Meeting of the Fellowship
was held on June 27, 1982 at the Miller residence in Fryeburg.
(Note by R.F.: A final portion of Russell's account has been omitted
here which goes on to summarize highlights of Fellowship growth through
1997. In a concluding paragraph he notes that he had relied on memory
for some of the information, and implied that there might be an
inaccuracy here or there as a result. There did appear to be one
inaccuracy regarding the date of adoption of the Bylaws. According to
the record, the first Bylaws were adopted on October 4, 1981, not
November 15th as he had stated. However, it was on that second date that
Article IV was amended to change the district membership: "This
fellowship shall be a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association
and of the New Hampshire/Vermont District." The next six signers of
the Membership Book were as listed earlier, but the dates of signing
were as follows: Holly Johnson, Nov. 19; Lyle and Linda Richardson, Nov.
23; Elizabeth and Winthrop Carlson, Dec. 20; and Mildred P. Boyle (Janet
Miller's mother), Dec.20.)
After nearly two years of meeting in members' homes, the Fellowship
secured the use of the Sun Room at Memorial Hospital in North Conway,
and met there twice a month (2nd and 4th Sundays) starting April 18,
1982 at 4 p.m. Among the early guests were Barbara and Malcolm Reed of
the Reading (MA) Unitarian Church on July 11th and August 8th. On
September 5 we shifted to the first- and third-Sunday schedule which was
maintained until 1997, when activities were added for the second- and
Discussion began in September, 1982 between president Marilyn McKenna
and the Rev. Deane Starr, Executive Secretary of the NH/VT District,
regarding the possibility of the District's providing us with a part
time minister. The Rev. J. Chandler Newton, District Extension Minister,
met with the Executive Committee on November 3rd to learn of our needs,
and conducted his first worship service for us on November21, 1982. His
once/month services were partly subsidized by the District. We moved our
meeting place to "The Chapel" (later renamed the Henderson
Room), downstairs in the Conway Village Congregational Church on June
19, 1983. With a few exceptions, our "long distance minister"
Rev. Chandler continued to provide one service a month, with the other
service led by either a guest speaker or a UUFES member, through June,
A note on attendance: During that period it averaged 7.4 through the
end of 1981. In calendar '82 the average was 10, and in the first half
of 1983, 8.3. These figures are possible because Russ Miller kept
record, neatly typed, Sunday by Sunday, with the names of those in
Having accepted the presidency at the Annual Meeting in June, 1984,
Roderick Forsman began leading most of the services on those alternate
Sundays when Rev. Chandler was not here. He had earlier conducted the
services on 10/3/82, 1/2/83, and 7/17/83. Rod was a school psychologist
and active UU who had moved to the area in1980 from Plattsburgh, NY
where he was on the faculty of the State University of New York College.
The sermons he read were ones sent him by The Rev. Robert Senghas,
minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society, Burlington, VT.
This pattern continued through June, 1986 when Chan's Extension Ministry
with us ended. During the year '86-'87, Rod moved more and more into the
"pulpit role", and there was also increased participation by
other members and friends as well as guest speakers.
Rod's role as lay leader/minister was formalized at the Annual
Meeting on June 7, 1987 (and was eventually to continue to his
retirement in June, 1998.) Russ Miller moved to appoint Forsman as Lay
Leader "to serve on an annual contract which will automatically
renew each year unless either party gives notice by April 1st. . . and
in consideration of an annual 'honorarium' mutually agreed upon."
Since 1985, at least one service per year has focused on the Unitarian
Universalist Service Committee, both to publicize its highly effective
programs and to urge membership in the UUSC and/or financial
contribution for its support by us as individuals.
In November, 1989 permission was received to use the Henderson Room
at 8:30 a.m. There had been persistent dissatisfaction over the years
with the 4 p.m. meeting time, especially during the winter months.
However, there were still the problems associated with
"sharing" these quarters with other users from the preceding
week. For example, a day-care program consistently left the room covered
with furnishings, toys, etc. which all had to be moved out of the way in
order for any semblance to be achieved of a worship space. As I recall
it, early in the summer of '89, carpenters started work at the rear of
the Henderson Room to install storage space for foodstuffs for a new
food pantry program.
This development further increased our awareness of shortcomings in
our worship-service space. Subsequently, at the Annual Meeting in June,
1989 it was decided to delay adoption of a budget until the fall,
pending outcome of our looking for an alternative location, which might
mean significant change in rent. A Site Location Committee was
appointed, composed of Warren Witherell (south), Rod Forsman (Conway
area) and Russell Miller (Maine) to scout out possibilities. None was
found, but the process had been started. Nearly two years later we did
secure the use of Runnells Hall in the village of Chocorua, commencing
September 15, 1991. The change also allowed us to move the meeting time
a half-hour later to 9 a.m. The Fellowship has continued to meet there
with great satisfaction through the present time.
Happenstance notes made at our last service in the Henderson Room on
Labor Day Weekend, 1991, recorded the following persons present: Margie
(that's with a hard 'g') Fennell, Phyllis Hatch, Marilyn McKenna,
Wardner and Frederika Gilroy, Foster Gilroy, Dave Fisher, Erma Perry,
Sylvia and Warren Witherell, Russell and Janet Miller, a homeless man,
Richard Doreghty, and lay minister Rod Forsman. Incidentally, my
recollection is that the attendance at one of the services that summer
A further note on attendance. Accurate records have not been kept
consistently, but it is accurate to say that attendance at worship
services steadily grew over the years. By 1997 we were numbering two
dozen or more per worship service. Special occasions saw this number
jump into the high thirties or low forties.
Membership in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern
Slopes is specified in its Bylaws (as amended) as follows: "Any
person sixteen (16) years of age or older who is in sympathy with the
purpose and program of this Fellowship may become a member by signing
the membership book. Membership is open to all qualified persons
regardless of race, color, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, or
[A lengthy list of membership has been omitted here.]
One source of information about who we are and what we have been
doing is our annual budgets. From its adoption of Bylaws in October,
1981 to the following June 30, 1982, the fledgling Fellowship operated
without a budget. It had receipts of $510, of which $250 was a loan and
another $100 a grant from the District. The balance came in from
pledges. Disbursements in that period were $55. The following full year
1982-83 showed total receipts of $396.28 and disbursements $288.17. Most
of the latter ($190) was for room rental.
The operating budget adopted for 2002 ($52,740) offers a dramatic
view of Fellowship growth overall in those 20 years, and specifically in
what has been budgeted:
Administration $1500 Advertising 2000 Caretaker 50 Caring &
Sharing Fund 200 Child Care 700 Clergy of the Eastern Slope 100
Contingency 800 General Assembly 1000 Hospitality 200 Insurance 375
Library Contribution 50 Member Delegate 1400 Membership Expenses 100
Mileage 1000 Minister Compensation 26,265 Minister Expenses 500 Phone
400 Religious Education 4200 Rent 1500 Savings & Investments 1000
Search Committee 1000 Social Concerns 600 Speakers 1800 UUA Fair Share
2400 NH/VT District Dues 600
Numbers do sometimes tell a story!
Despite continuing efforts over the years to "grow an R.E.
program for children", we have been hampered by the fact that few
of our UUFES families have had younger children at home. Judie Johnson
and Deborah Frock, to mention only the two primary persons, have
invested enormous interest and energies into R.E. development. Our
District R.E. consultant, Cindy Spring, has also provided her services,
support, and curriculum materials.
We have offered several Adult R.E. programs. Rod Forsman gave a talk
on "Late 18th and Early 19th Century Origins of Unitarian
Universalism" in December, 1986. Enough interest was kindled by
this talk to undertake a three-part series on "Origins of American
Unitarianism" in the spring and early summer, 1987. Rod also led an
8-session adult series titled "What Unitarian Universalists
Believe: Principles For a Living Faith." A video-based program, it
basically discussed the newly adopted UU Principles and showed how to
apply them to our personal and congregational lives. Meetings were held
on the second Sunday of each month, beginning in October, 1987 and
lasting through May, 1988. Ken and Evelyn Dole of North Conway
generously provided their home for the series.
In February and March, 1997 Dave Fisher led a 4-session discussion
group sparked by the book Salted With Fire: Unitarian Universalist
Strategies for Sharing Faith and Growing Congregations. (edited by Scott
W. Alexander,1994, Skinner House Books). Participants explored views and
experiences of Unitarian Universalism, evangelism, and how we can be
more actively involved in our spiritual growth.
A more formal workshop series on "Building Your Own
Theology" was offered in November, 1997 through June, 1998 by Dave
Fisher and Rod Forsman. The sessions were held in participants' homes,
including those of Lydia Miller, Sally Wheeler, Nancy Sheridan, and
Charlotte Van Hof. (If there are others I have forgotten, my apologies.)
Eleanor Jenkins, friend of the Fellowship (became a member in 2002),
led a group of women in Cakes For the Queen of Heaven in the fall, 1996.
Judith Soule, who was the first president of UUFES, corresponded with
the Extension Consultant of the UUA in the summer of 1981 and obtained
several samples of Bylaws. By early August the organizers of the
"Phoenix UUFES" had finished an initial draft and submitted it
to the UUA for review and suggestions. One of the main questions they
had was which district to affiliate with. The organizers came from
western Maine and also Mount Washington Valley, NH. Partly the question
hinged on how the two states' laws compared regarding incorporation for
tax-exempt status. Even the possibility of dual membership had been
considered. The original Bylaws were adopted on October 4 , 1981. With
some uncertainty, the decision was made to affiliate with the Northeast
District of the UUA. Upon reconsideration of that choice, apparently
influenced by Judy Soule's personal contacts with other UUs in the NH/VT
District, Article IV of the Bylaws (Denominational Affiliation) was
amended on November 15, 1981 to affiliate with the NH/VT District of the
Unitarian Universalist Association.
I could not locate in the Minutes of any meetings just when, prior to
a May 20, 1989 re-typing, that three further changes were made to the
Bylaws: (1) Article III, Section 4 added an Associate Membership
category for "Unitarian Universalist ministers who have shown an
interest.. . Such membership shall be without vote or expectation of
financial or other participation." This was probably done after
Chan Newton ended his part-time ministry with us. He had signed the book
as a member, but we did not wish to hold him to the requirement of
making financial contributions in order to maintain membership. (2)
Article VI, Section 1 added the office of Vice President. This change
made unnecessary the Section 5 of that article, which provided for the
Executive Committee to appoint a temporary chairperson to preside over
meetings which the president is unable to attend. (3) Section 5 was
therefore deleted. In a special business meeting on October 15, 1989,
voting on a motion by Phyllis Hatch, the existing Section 3 of Article
III was canceled and replaced in its entirety by a new Section 3,
reading as follows: "Those members who are not active members (i.e.
those members who have not made a financial contribution within the
year) shall become associate members. Persons may be dropped from
membership only on death or by a request in writing."
A later development arose which was to have major consequences for
the Bylaws. The concept of long range planning was introduced to the
Executive Committee in late 1993. The Committee embraced the concept
enthusiastically and appointed 5 members to a Long Range Planning
Committee: Kathryn Burnell, Rod Forsman (Secretary), Edith Gimpel, Bob
Johnson, and Mal Reed (Chairman). The Committee developed a Mission
Statement which was adopted by the Fellowship in 1994. They then went on
to conduct a questionnaire survey to explore the Fellowship's priorities
and goals. The findings were reported on 10/1/95. The LRPC was asked in
January, 1996 to review our current Bylaws and to make recommendations
for changes to improve the functioning of UUFES. After several meetings
of the LRPC a single-page list of recommended changes was given to the
Executive Committee on March 15.
On April 17, 1996 the Executive Committee approved putting the
recommendations before the Fellowship at its Annual Meeting in May.
Earlier that same day the membership itself had changed the Bylaws to
meet annually in May instead of June. Meeting on May 19th, members
approved the numerous proposed changes to the Bylaws. The most
significant ones were: (1) voting members shall have made a financial
contribution within the current fiscal year; (2) the associate
membership category was dropped; (3) membership termination is effected
by written request; (4) the Executive Committee is renamed the Governing
Board; (5) this Board is expanded to five members by the addition of a
Chairperson of Religious Education; (6) several standing committees are
created, including Religious Education, Membership and Publicity,
Finance, Social Justice. The previously existing Nominating Committee is
now listed with these new committees, and is appointed by the Board (not
elected at Annual Meeting) as are the other committee chairmen and
Other revisions have been made each year at annual meeting since
1999. Denominational affiliation now includes the NH/VT District of
Unitarian Universalist Societies (omitted earlier presumably as an
oversight). The quorum is now 40% instead of 20%. A Proxy vote on
pre-published agenda items is available. Religious Education is now
recognized as Lifespan Religious Education, and the fifth position on
the Governing Board has been changed from Chairperson of Lifespan
Religious Education to Member-At-Large. The standing committees are now
Lifespan Religious Education, Membership, Program, Social Concerns,
Ministerial, Long Range Planning, Finance, and Nominating. The minister
is a non-voting ex officio member of all committees except the
Our annual meetings have usually been the occasion also for a
memorable potluck meal, making it very much a "social event".
The initial one in this now-long series took place at Bouldacres, the
residence of Janet and Russell Miller in Fryeburg, Maine on June 27,
1982. Over the years the pot lucks have been hosted by Ken and Evelyn
Dole ('83), the Millers ('84), Bob and Judie Johnson ('85 and '87),
Sylvia and Warren Witherell ('86 and '88), and Marilyn McKenna ('90 and
'91). We moved our worship services to Runnells Hall in September of
1991, and concurrently our social events have benefited from the
convenience of the kitchen facilities there since then.
Despite our wide individual differences as UUs in response to the
whole Christmas Season phenomenon, we have almost always managed to
capitalize on its heightening of our sense of community. The Johnsons
hosted the Christmas party in '84. My records are absent of information
about holiday gatherings for several years, but I do recall that they
occurred. Following the 12/19/93 worship service we gathered for the
first of three wonderful annual potluck meals hosted by Beulah and Fred
Vancor in Wolfeboro. Since '96 we have gathered for a Christmas Brunch
at the Whittier House in West Ossipee.
The First Annual William Ellery Channing Brunch was held at Runnells
Hall following the Easter Sunday service on April 3,1994. It was
superbly organized and coordinated by Barbara Reed who has been
masterful in her accomplishment of directing such events. The brunch has
been held annually since, but variously renamed. Another of Barbara's
projects has been the organizing of "Dinners For
Six/Seven/Eight" to brighten the dark days of winter during January
through March. These are "small, intimate social gatherings (which)
will foster the interchange of ideas and sharing of fellowship between
UUs in a purely social setting - nurturing the mashed potato concept'
noted by your president in the last issue'' (of the newsletter
Inclinations, Feb, 1997). The reference Barbara makes is to an excerpt
from Bruce Marshall's Taking Pictures of God:
What I want in church is a place where there are suppers on Sunday
evenings and they serve you mashed potatoes! Never have I heard it
expressed more succinctly: the comfort role of the church community.
Mashed potatoes are warmth and nourishment and safety and support. It
would be a shame if our lives have become so busy and important that we
don't have time to offer mashed potatoes to each other.
Hosts supply beverages, and the randomly-assigned guests bring the
Fellowship-wide retreats have served that vital "social"
purpose as well. The first one I know of came at the generous invitation
of Doug Leathem to his Kezar Lake lodge, the weekend of September 27-28,
1997. It was an overnight affair combining business (Board and committee
meetings) with pleasure: a potluck supper, canoeing, nature walks,
pancake breakfast, good music and singing, a video on UU history, board
games, and lots and lots of warm fellowship.
We have participated over the years in the activities of the Clergy
of the Eastern Slope by having one of our members attend the group's
regular meetings. Marilyn McKenna represented us in earlier times, and
later, Kathryn Burnell. Each year we budget a line item for CES. Also,
numerous UUFES members participate in the annual Crop Walk that is
sponsored by the Clergy. We are the only local denomination whose name
closely reflects the Clergy of the Eastern Slope, the difference being
that we pluralize "Slopes".
As reported in the May, 1997 issue of Inclinations, a UUFES Memorial
Fund has been established, as follows:
The purpose of the UUFES Memorial Fund is to provide a permanent
remembrance of persons dear to us. At the time of an individual's death,
friends may be invited to give to the Memorial Fund amounts they would
otherwise expend on flowers or other nonpermanent remembrances. Or,
perhaps a member would like to make a contribution to commemorate a
birth, an anniversary, a graduation, or a marriage. All gifts -
including permanent, non-monetary gifts - will be recorded, with the
donor noted, in a permanent record book. The name of the person in whose
memory the gift is given will also be recorded. All gifts will be
acknowledged by the UUFES treasurer and notification will be sent to the
next of kin of the person memorialized. Donors may condition or restrict
their gifts to serve a particular purpose, pending Governing Board
approval. The Governing Board will be responsible for management of the
There are also two other dedicated funds not available for any other
but their stated purposes. The Peggy Erskine Caring and Sharing Fund,
and a Social Action Fund.
Note was made earlier (II.E.) of the work of the Long Range Planning
Committee. In early 1994 the LRPC convened an all-day session to develop
a mission statement. Eighteen members worked through the whole day at
the Ossipee Concerned Citizens Building led by the Rev. Kitsy Winthrop
of the Springfield (VT) UU Church. The LRPC subsequently reviewed and
polished the draft, which was then approved by the Executive Committee.
The mission statement expressed how the Fellowship defines itself and
Using the vision statement as a guide, the Committee constructed and
administered a questionnaire which was mailed out to 20 members and
friends. It sought to learn what the Fellowship community wished to
accomplish in the future regarding the specifics of change and growth.
The results of its analysis were reported to the Executive Committee on
October 1, 1995.
A few of the more interesting findings were: very high interest in
adult RE; desire for a full time minister by the year 2003; priority of
attracting new members, especially those with young children; lukewarm
feelings about having every-Sunday programming, particularly because it
would require higher levels of pledging; and very strong interest in
maintaining high-quality sermons.
A second all-church questionnaire was prepared, disseminated and
evaluated by the Public Relations Committee, ably led by its chairperson
Cindy Foster. The results of the survey were reported in April, 1998.
Cindy and Connie Jan Sears, a committee member, were commended for the
tremendous effort they gave the project. The findings provide an
interesting basis for comparing the results of a later survey only four
years later, showing significant changes:
1. A majority of members are female, over 50, and retired. 2. The
numbers of persons identifying themselves religiously or philosophically
were: 20 Humanists, 18 Naturalists, 16 Eclectics, 12 Ethical Christians,
10 Agnostics, 1 Theological Christian, 1 Atheist. 3. Even split between
wanting an ordained vs. lay minister. 4. Regarding the type of person
who would be leader: 24, "facilitating type" who should be a
spiritual leader; 23, intellectual leader; 16, a community builder; 13,
a social activist; 11, a facilitator; 8, a provider of pastoral care. 5.
All respondents said they would increase their pledge to support a new
minister. Potential increase of pledges ranged between 10% to 120%. 6. A
majority favor a change to weekly meetings, but not weekly services. All
favored the alternate Sundays being used for public-issues forum, adult
education or book discussion. 7. Most adequately served at present are
fellowship and spiritual growth, with needed improvement in social
activism and pastoral counseling. 8. The aspects of church most
important to members are intellectual stimulation, community and worship
service. Adult education and social action are mid-way. Children's
program was last.
Independently of this survey, about 20 members and friends met on
Saturday, March 29, 1998 for a pancake breakfast, followed by a workshop
lasting past lunch, to identify and prioritize concerns for the
Fellowship's future. The number of votes for specific priorities was:
Leadership, 17; Voice of Conscience in the Community, 12; Finding a
Building for Services and to Support Community Affairs, 12; Increasing
membership and Sustaining Spiritual Development, 10. A detailed report
was published with the May, 1998 issue of Inclinations.
Social action/social justice projects have held central interest for
many of our members for a long time in true UU tradition. Several
members are significantly involved in social justice issues as
individuals in their respective communities. Our ability to move forward
more energetically in this realm was given a tremendous boost in 1997 by
an anonymous donation of $2,000, and a pledge of two more annual
contributions of that amount for a total of $6,000 (the Social Action
Fund; see II.H.).
Hopes for a future church building of our own was expressed formally
as far back as the Annual Meeting in June, 1983 when $100 was budgeted
for a "Building Fund". Minor amounts were budgeted and paid
into the fund thereafter, just to keep it alive on the books. Then, in
the Annual Meeting of 1986 we assigned a small savings account and two
CD's (totaling $1603.77) to the Building Fund, augmented by another
$2000 we had received during the year from the dissolution of the White
Memorial Universalist Church of Concord, NH. As if to emphasize our
intent, we transferred another $500 to that fund from a NOW account. A
future home of our own was on our minds.
At the Annual Meeting in May, 1998 the Governing Board reported that
they had removed the Building Fund from the operating budget and made it
a stand-alone fund. Three years later the question arose whether in fact
the monies in that fund were formally "dedicated" as such.
Although the Board and membership alike considered that fund to be
dedicated, it had not been formally declared so. Russell Miller moved to
change the term "Building Fund" to "dedicated
funds". The motion passed and they are now so designated. At the
same time, the Fellowship voted to create an ad hoc committee "to
investigate the past history of the dedicated funds (Building Fund), any
potential problems, and to make recommendations to the Governing Board
regarding policies and procedures pertaining to them" (Minutes,
Annual Meeting 2001, Action 9A.). This committee has not yet reported
its progress in this task.
The designated Building Fund is currently in the form of dividends
and cash held by Salomon, Smith, Barney. As of mid-January, 2003, its
value was in excess of $6,000. However, another $28,000 not specifically
designated is fully available for the purchase of a parcel of land
currently being considered (more on this in Part V, Section H.)
At one time, in the late fall of 1990, the Fellowship did become
quite interested in a potential purchase. The Executive Committee was
authorized to negotiate a one-year lease with option to buy the former
Post Office Building in Center Conway, NH. This transaction did not
materialize. However, having our own building is definitely an active
Margaret Borden "Margie" Fennell died September 21, 1994
following a long illness. Margie joined the Fellowship March 3,1986 and
was an active member until her death at the age of 83. It is my
understanding that while she was living in Lexington, MA she was
superintendent of the largest-enrollment of UU Religious Education
programs in the U.S. Margie combined a highly independent spirit,
intellectual keenness and wry sense of humor. Roderick Forsman conducted
the memorial service for her at the Gibson Center in North Conway on
October 1, 1994. She was well known and loved by a large circle of
friends outside UUFES as well.
Sylvia Rehder Witherell, beloved wife of Warren F. Witherell, died in
Concord, NH on April 26, 1996, just one day shy of her 84th birthday.
She had succumbed to pancreatic cancer. A service for the celebration of
her life was held on May 18, 1996 at the Chickville Church in Center
Ossipee. She had been a member of this Fellowship since March 31, 1985.
Sylvia's loving and kindly nature, her warmth of spirit and reliable
good humor remain vivid in the memories of those of us privileged to
know her. The beautiful chalice which adds significantly to our worship
services was given to the Fellowship by her family as a memorial.
Janet Parker Boyle Miller died of lymphoma cancer on November 11,
1996 at the age of 79. She was a "Founding Mother of the
Fellowship" and beloved wife of C. Russell Miller. Our Fellowship
lost a cherished friend and vibrant personality in her passing. Her
indomitable spirit and zest for life were in full display to the last. A
service for the celebration of her life was held in the North Fryeburg
Universalist Chapel on June 22, 1997, led by Roderick Forsman. The UUFES
Memorial Fund was generously given a gift of $1000 from Russell in her
Although not formally a member of UUFES, Donald W. Wilson actively
participated in the life of this religious community with his wife,
Louise. Don died November 21, 1987 in Fryeburg, ME. A memorial service
was held on November 27th at the North Fryeburg Universalist Chapel, Rod
His widow, Louise Dickinson Wilson, died on February 26, 1999 at the
age of 93. She had been in failing health for several years. Louise was
born in Holyoke, MA on January 27, 1906. She was a graduate of Mount
Holyoke College. After receiving her Masters in Library Science degree
from New Haven State Teachers College, Louise was a librarian in the
Hartford, CT school system for many years before she and Don moved to
Sandwich, NH. They moved to Fryeburg, ME in 1982. Louise loved the small
size and intimacy of UUFES as she knew it years ago.
"Foster Wardner Gilroy, son of Wardner and Frederika Gilroy,
died at his home, June 4, 2002 after a long illness. He was born August
12, 1951 in Huntingdon, NY. After obtaining his B.A. degree from Hofstra
College, Foster earned his J.D. degree from Western New England Law
School and was a representative to the Student Bar Association. After
the death of his wife, Charlene Kemp Gilroy, he made his home with his
parents in Highland Park in Fryeburg. He is also survived by his first
wife, Linda Bauer Gilroy of Melville, NY" (Inclinations, July,
2002). A Service of Remembrance was held at the Brighton Medical Center
in Portland, ME on 10/29/02, conducted by Roderick Forsman. Foster's
father was receiving rehabilitation services at the Center for injuries
suffered in a fall several months earlier.
The courageous life of Peggy Erskine ended July 13, 2001. A Memorial
Service to celebrate her life was held at Runnells Hall on July 17th,
presided over by Rev. Dan Schatz. Many of Peggy's "friends and
family members delivered moving tributes to the indomitable spirit of a
woman who faced multiple challenges throughout her life, whose curiosity
and intellect were boundless, and whose concern for others shone
through, despite her own suffering. How fitting it is that UUFES
President JoAnne Rainville announced at the end of the service that our
fund for those in need has been officially designated as the 'Peggy
Erskine Caring and Sharing Fund.' She will be sadly missed"
(Inclinations, August, 2001).
LaVonne Wright, beloved wife of Edward Wright, died in December, 2001
as a result of a fall down a stairway at a restaurant while she and Ed
were in Rome, Italy. A memorial service conducted by Rev. Schatz at
Runnells Hall heard tributes and touching reflections from Ed and their
two sons and one daughter. LaVonne will be remembered, in part, for her
gentle spirit and keen intellect. Prior to her retirement, she had been
a registered nurse, a special education teacher, school psychologist,
special education director, and lawyer.
Marilyn F. "Mac" McKenna died unexpectedly at her apartment
in Hanover, NH. Mac was a Founder of this Fellowship, the third person
to sign the membership book on November 15, 1981. She had served four
terms as President, 1982-84 and 1989-91. She "retired" from
the Census Bureau and moved to Albany just months before the fledgling
Fellowship formed. Along with her leading role in UUFES activities over
several years, as well as in NH/VT District affairs, she also was active
in civic affairs, serving as town clerk, tax collector, and moderator
for Albany. Her liberal voice permeated all of these activities. At
Kendal, her assisted-living facility in Hanover, she was a highly
Part IV: Annual Slates of Officers - OMITTED
Part V: 1998-Present
The end of the 1997-98 Fellowship year was a major turning point for
UUFES. Roderick Forsman conducted his last worship service as lay
minister on June 21st. He had led his first UUFES service on October
3,1982, over 15 ½ years earlier. His formal role as lay minister had
begun July 1, 1987. The retirement occasion was followed up with a
lively gathering at the Reeds' home in Freedom.
Over all those years, the worship services had benefited from sermons
written by some of the denomination's best ministers. Sermons were
selected for their variety of views, issues, and quality. They were
available to Rod either through personal correspondence, subscription or
in published collections. Among the more frequently appearing sermon
authors were: Robert Senghas, Richard S. Gilbert, John Hay Nichols,
Terry Sweetser, M. Susan Milnor, John Cummins, John Buehrens, and John
The ending of Rod's lay ministry was a point of transition to
professional ministry. At the Annual Meeting of UUFES in May, 1998, Dr.
F. David Fisher was welcomed as Acting Minister by unanimous vote. The
Governing Board was instructed to negotiate a written contract with him.
Dave stated that he intended his tenure as minister to be for one year,
"to be extended if necessary to two years." The final motion
of the Meeting was an expression of appreciation to Rod Forsman for his
thirteen years of service to UUFES.
Looking back four years later, the transition proved to have served
as a powerful stimulus for the planning and reorganizing of our
programs, and energizing a broader participation by the membership.
Starting September, 1998 the Fellowship began meeting every Sunday.
Worship services are held on the first and third Sundays. Lifespan
religious education and social justice programs are held on the
alternate Sundays. Fifth Sundays are the occasions of intergenerational
services. There are more frequent special events. The number and variety
of social events has increased. The Program Committee under the dynamic
leadership of Dick Cary created an exciting calendar whose offerings
were planned out well in advance. The speakers have given us a diverse
array of high-quality topics and abundant mental stimulation.
In September, 1998, Dr. F. David Fisher began his tenure as Acting
Minister. Dave is a retired psychiatrist who had earned a Masters in
Divinity degree from The Starr King School, prior to deciding to enter a
medical career. The high point of UUFES' transition to professional
ministry was Dave's ordination by the congregation on January 10, 1999,
bestowing on him the title Reverend. This event was historic not only
for Dave, but also for UUFES. It was our first ordination. Several
distinguished guests participated in the joyous celebration: Rev. Jim
Norman, District Executive of the NH/VT District; S. Arnold Shields,
District President; Rev. Art Vaeni, Minister of the Starr King
Fellowship in Plymouth (and a guest seminarian speaker when we were
meeting in the Conway Village Congregational Church), Rev. Christoph
Schmauch, President of the Clergy of the Eastern Slope; Rev. Kathy
Merrick, Minister of the Lovell (ME) UCC; Rev. Dr. Duncan Howlett,
Minister Emeritus of All Souls Church, Unitarian, Washington, D.C.
Dave served us effectively for two years. This was the maximum tenure
that he had promised. His sermons enriched our understanding of
Unitarian Universalism, deepened our appreciation of UU Principles,
sensitized us to gender issues, and called us to higher levels of caring
and civility. His pastoral services were deeply appreciated. As a
reminder to him of his hours of service to UUFES, Dave was given a
"literal" hourglass which he promised he would not use for
Scrabble games. Dave has moved to the Fort Lauderdale area with his
partner, Paul Alpert. He is deeply missed by all.
The Search Committee, under the able chairmanship of Malcolm Reed,
brought two ministerial candidates forward to conduct services in July,
2000: Deane Perkins on the 9th, and Daniel Schatz on the 23rd. At a
Special Meeting of the Fellowship on August 6, 2000, a majority of the
membership voted unanimous approval of the Governing Board's
recommendation to call Daniel S. Schatz to be our next minister, on a
Dan began his ministry with the Fellowship in mid-September with a
sermon exploring adventures - of our free faith, of thought, and of our
life together as a community. A light luncheon replaced the usual
refreshment hour following the service.
In order to better support that adventure together as a community, a
group met with Jim Norman (D.E. for the NH/VT District) on November 21,
2000 to articulate the respective responsibilities of the minister, the
congregation, and shared responsibilities. The group consisted of
representatives of the Governing Board, Ministerial Committee, and Dan
Schatz. Recognizing that the bottom line of successful community is open
communication between the minister and all members of the congregation,
the following list attempted to synthesize their ideas into coherent
Responsibilities of the Minister:
- Lead worship, including sermon, 1st Sundays of the month
lead and construct 3rd Sunday services
- Provide professional pastoral
care (such as getting to know the congregation, visitation, counseling,
- Maintain strong denominational ties (including NH/VT
District, UUA, worldwide)
- Offer resources and, where appropriate,
suggestions to Governing Board and Committees
- Provide ceremonial
services (such as "match, hatch, and dispatch" a.k.a.
marriage, birth and death)
- Represent UUFES in the community (e.g.,
Clergy of the Eastern Slope)
- Continue on a path of professional and
- Participate in the life of the congregation (such as attend
services, offer support and care to one another, committee work, social
events, enjoy UUFES)
- Make policy decisions for UUFES (including
bylaws, long-range planning, physical facility, etc.)
- Finances (such
as budgeting, canvassing, and fundraising activities for financial
support of professional staff and other expenses)
- Create 2nd, 4th and
5th Sunday services
- Provide for lifespan religious education
(children and adults) and childcare
- Social action projects
care of administrative/secretarial tasks (for example, UUFES telephone,
newsletter, web site, Sunday bulletins, UUA and NH/VT paperwork and
- Communicate honestly with one another; manage interpersonal
- Provide leadership, mutual moral support
- Plan for the
- Spread the word of UUFES
- Integrate new members
Dan's Ordination to the Unitarian Universalist Ministry was held on
October 28, 2001 at the Lake Ossipee Conference Center in Freedom. The
ordination sermon was delivered by The Reverend Dr. Kenneth Torquil
MacLean, former UUA Trustee-At-Large and Minister Emeritus of the Cedar
Lane (MD) Unitarian Universalist Church. That is the church of Dan's
childhood UU upbringing. The ceremony was followed by a dinner enjoyed
by the large gathering present, which included many eminent dignitaries.
Dan's contractual commitment was changed from half-time to 2/3rds
time in the late fall. Dan announced in March, 2002 that he would be
leaving UUFES at the end of July to begin a fulltime ministry to a
larger congregation in Pennsylvania. This news came as a shock to nearly
everyone, who had come to love Dan and to look forward so eagerly to his
excellent sermons and musical performances. A going-away party was
hosted by the Reeds after the Sunday service on July 21st.
The Fellowship promptly addressed the question of whether to hire an
interim minister, or to "go it alone" with lay leadership
during the interim that a search committee would need to find desirable
ministerial candidates. On May 22nd, 21 members of UUFES met with
Rosemary Smurzynski, Acting District Executive, for an informational
forum about Interim Ministry. She presented the pros and cons very
clearly, and expressed her belief that hiring an Interim is the
The Governing Board held its July monthly meeting, well-publicized,
in the evening of the 23rd so that members could attend and express
their views pro and con . Prior to discussion of the Interim question,
JoAnne Rainville presented information she had gained from a Search
Committee Workshop at UUA Headquarters in Boston. The amount that we
have budgeted for a 2/3 time minister is far short of the UUA
guidelines. There was vigorous discussion about strategies for finding a
minister whom we can afford, as well as the option of digging deeper in
our pockets to get closer to the guidelines.
According to President Elizabeth Rhymer's report printed in
Inclinations (August, 2002), "the meeting ended with a
brainstorming exercise, listing the pros and cons of hiring an interim
minister. At the end of the evening, most attendees were leaning toward
"going it alone" this year, putting money saved toward other
UUFES goals such as land/building acquisition & future minister
salary, and pressing forward with our search for a permanent minister.
Some of the reasons people were not enthusiastic about hiring an interim
were the cost, some doubts that we'd find a suitable part-time
candidate, and a feeling that the tasks that an interim could help us
with we're already doing or have done. However, I received at least two
'pro interim' emails from members who were not able to attend the
meeting. The Board will continue to discuss how we will proceed at our
next Board meeting, August 27th."
And continue to address it they did! An Interim Ministry Poll was
sent out to all members and friends. An astounding 75% of members
responded, as well as a number of friends, for a total of 41 replies.
Some people wrote simply with their vote of yes or no. But the majority
wrote at length, explaining their vote as well as their feelings about
ministry in general, getting our own home, membership, and many other
issues. Each member of the Board studied these detailed replies
carefully. In a letter sent to all members and friends, which included a
verbatim compilation of the comments and votes received (with
identifying attributes removed), the Board stated "What struck us
as we read your words is the truth of everyone's opinions, even when
those opinions were the opposite of what others had said. We have taken
every reply to heart and we honor your sincerity and dedication to
UUFES" (Board letter, 9/29/02).
The results of the poll were nearly an even split pro and con interim
ministry. At its September meeting, the five Board members discussed the
poll results at length, then set aside their own personal opinions in
order to take a good look at what they felt was best for UUFES at that
time, given the congregational feedback and the Board's understanding of
the overall picture. The decision was made not to hire an interim
minister. In its letter dated September 29, 2002, the Governing Board
listed some of the reasons it came to this decision: "(1) Hiring an
interim when half of the congregation is opposed to having one would be
detrimental both to the minister and to the congregation; (2) It would
take a few months to get one, using up part of the one-year term s/he
would serve. This would significantly delay the search for a called
minister; (3) The Program Committee has lined up excellent lay and
professional speakers for months ahead, and it is believed that this
quality can be sustained or improved over the next year or more; (4)
Given the dual pressing needs of ministry and housing, both of which are
expensive, the lower expenses without an Interim will save money that
can be put toward the dual goals; (5) Excellent committee leadership and
energetic committee activity are maintaining the strength of UUFES as a
lay-led fellowship while the search is on for a called minister. The
hope is for a called minister in the pulpit by the fall of 2003."
Meanwhile, the awareness was growing among the congregation that we
are continually ministering to one another, in very significant ways, in
all of the activities in which we participate. One important type is the
Small Group Ministry, sometimes known as covenant groups. The primary
goal of these groups is to promote intimacy and spiritual growth in a
supportive setting apart from Sunday services and committee meetings.
Examples are the two Evensong groups and their spinoffs, Seanachie and
Et Tu (see discussion of these in Section C below), the Circle of Eight
dinner groups, and basically any of the social gatherings.
The Spring Breakfast/Brunch, placed on the calendar just after Spring
Solstice and before May Day, has become an annual event. It is sometimes
called the William Ellery Channing Brunch, and usually takes place at
Whittier House in West Ossipee. There was a special version of the
brunch held on April 16, 2000 as a potluck Seder, in keeping with our
ongoing exploration of the world's great religious traditions.
Masterminded by Paul Alpert, Dave Fisher's partner, each participant
family was given a recipe to prepare which would be an authentic item in
the traditional Seder meal.
In the fall of 1998 (September 12-13) we gathered again at Doug
Leathem's beautiful Kezar Lake lodge, this time with a worship service
on Sunday morning, followed by a discussion of the UUA program
"Fulfilling the Promise", lunch, and review of UUFES'
A highlight in the social calendar has now become a tradition: the
Annual FirstSunday-In-July Picnic at the "Reeds' on the River"
in Freedom, NH. Barbara and Malcolm Reed share their beautiful
surroundings on the Ossipee River and manage always to provide ideal
weather too for the event.
"First Fridays" at Runnells Hall were initiated on December
7, 2001. These are community-building evenings with a potluck dinner,
followed by various activities: music; game playing like cards, board
games, and the like; conversation; sometimes a presentation such as
Debby Cary's February talk and slide show on her experiences in Kuwait
from 1993-1995. The First Friday Potlucks are a regular event.
The Snowfest every March is hosted by Bob Young, whose property backs
up to the National Forest and the trail going up to South Moat Mountain.
Sometimes with a co-host, Bob puts on a wonderful meal. His home-baked
breads and pea soup are without parallel. People bring their
"skinny skis" and snowshoes, and enjoy nature and each other.
Last year (2002) the rain and sleet kept everyone indoors, but people's
spirits were not dampened in the least.
A reading group, Books and Issues, was also organized by Bob Young
and ran for a few years. However, the level of interest declined to a
point where it was no longer worth doing.
Several of our members participate in the social and educational
activities of the Inclusive Moose, an area group which works to combat
homophobia and gender discrimination. They sponsor films and book
discussions, and enjoy dinner events.
The Ferry Beach Retreat on the first or second weekend of September
has become a highlight of the church year. During each of its past four
times the weather has been perfect. "Ferry Beach" is a
Unitarian Universalist Conference Center with lovely facilities located
in Saco, ME. The most recent Retreat was described in Inclinations as:
"Community building and reconnecting with other UUs [usually
another congregation is there also]; Indulging in amazingly scrumptious
food; Enjoying perfect weather and a gorgeous beach; Participating in
Joan Sherman's birthday (her daughter, Carrie, was with us to help
celebrate); Joining Joel [Rhymer] for a never-to-be-surpassed nature
walk in Ferry Beach State Park; Cheering for Ellie and Mary's [Rhymer]
hula hoop routine at the talent show; Seeing Naomi [Lubkin] wide-eyed as
she watched the talent show; Flying kites with Mal [Reed]; Meeting
Milford U-Us and their new minister, Barbara Liscord; Creating pastel
pictures with Joan [Sherman] and stenciling with Barb [Reed]; Swing
dancing with John [Hancock] and Erica [Hunter]; Finding fairy houses
with Willie [Mork]; Star gazing with Bob Fisher." Several of these
scenes are available for viewing on our website www.uufes.org.
- October 1999 to February, 2000: Five-Part Series "Ethics: An
Exploration in Personal Morality". (#1) Authority - Can We Be Good
Without God?, led by Dave Fisher and Barbara Reed. (#2) Motivation -
Doing the Right Thing For the Wrong Reason, led by Brenda Taylor and
JoAnne Rainville. (#3) Responsibility - The Difficult Art of Doing Good,
led by John Hancock and Kathryn Burnell. (#4) Situation - What is Going
On Here Morally?, led by Peggy Erskine and Dave Fisher. (#5) Does the
End Justify the Means?, led by Judie Johnson and Bob Young.
series which followed this was "Honoring Mother Earth: Experiences
in Native American Spirituality", led by Doug Leathem.
2000: Three-part series on our Unitarian Universalist philosophy, called
"Say Your Unitarian Universalism".
- January Through June,
2001: Members of UUFES gathered each 2nd Sunday to determine Our
Philosophy of Religious Growth and Learning, our goals, and ways we
might measure those goals. The end product, summarized below, is subject
to change and growth just as are the individuals who participated. It is
intended to serve as a guidepost for planning future lifespan religious
Definition of Religious Growth and Learning: Religious growth and
learning is a lifelong process of discovery - discovering who one is,
what one believes (which can and will change) and learning how to be
effective in community.
Goals For Religious Growth and Learning: Spiritual (Grow spiritually
as well as numerically/Develop questioning minds/Expose all ages to many
ideas as they relate to religion and expand upon them/Put our religious
concepts into practice/Find freedom to seek our own goals in our own
ways, without intruding on others' searches). Community building (Come
to a greater sense of ourselves as a group/Build a membership of
different age groups/Have greater interaction amongst age groups/Come to
greater diversity/Make friendships, forming a caring community).
Organizational (Increase ministerial involvement in religious
education/Utilize UU curricula for children and adults in the best way,
gauging the interests of the congregation).
The remainder of this document (see Inclinations, September, 2001)
spelled out specific Methods of evaluating our experiences so that we
can learn from our efforts and improve the quality of religious growth
and learning at UUFES.
- Evensong: An eight-week series of gatherings
in which participants explore their spirituality through sharing
thoughts, experiences, doubts, and beliefs. In practice, this was
reduced to a six-week series. At each meeting, the group followed an
order of service with the central event being a sharing time during
which everyone listened attentively and without interruption to each
other. Evensong offered people the opportunity to listen, to speak of
what mattered to them, and to be with one another in respectful ways.
Barbara Reed organized and led the two different series held thus far,
the first group in Fall, 2001, and the second in Winter, 2002. Both
groups decided to continue meeting beyond Evensong. The first, called
Seanachie, meets twice a month on Thursday evenings. The second, calling
itself Et Tu, meets monthly on Thursday forenoons. Each meeting is
organized around a discussion theme such as friendship, laughter, love,
hate, guilt, reverence, touching, death, etc.
- A Women's Spirituality
Book Group was launched in Fall, 2002.
- October, 2001 Through May,
2002: Every 2nd Sunday featured a sermon by six of our members and a
minister on one of the UU Principles. The series was introduced by an
overarching introduction by The Rev. Dr. Duncan Howlett. The following
presentations completed the series: Dick Cary - "The Inherent Worth
and Dignity of Every Person" Dave Fisher - "Justice, Equity
and Compassion in Human Relations: Our Tradition and Post-9/11
Options" Rod Forsman - "Valuing Others and Encouraging
Spiritual Growth" Rick Friend - "A Free and Responsible Search
for Truth and Meaning" Ed Wright - The Right of Conscience and the
Use of the Democratic Process in Our Congregations and in Society At
Large" Rev. Mary Edes - "A Humble Walk; A Lofty Goal"
Brenda Taylor - "Respect For the Interdependent Web of All
Existence of Which We Are a Part"
- February, 2002: Three weekly
sessions presented by Rev. Schatz on "A Faith of Questions -
Understanding Unitarian Universalism.
- Monthly "Movies With the
Minister" were part religious education, part socializing - a
- A curriculum workshop series on The Welcoming
Congregation began in November 1998, led by Dave Fisher. This is a
UUA-produced program designed to heighten our awareness of the
destructiveness of homophobia, and the need for UU persons and
congregations to openly embrace the humanity of gays, lesbians,
bisexuals, and transgendered persons. Many of our UU folks have felt
their lives changed by this workshop. A year later, the Fellowship voted
affirmatively on 12/5/99 to become a Welcoming Congregation.
In addition to these adult activities, of course, there is the
ongoing program for children. The Lifespan Religious Education Committee
has made significant progress in providing a quality program for our
children. Of course, a program can accomplish little if there are no
participants, or sporadic participants. This has been a problem which
has thwarted the good efforts of our R.E. leaders over the years. That
problem has lessened significantly. There are twelve children
represented among our member families, ranging in age from about 2 to 15
years, and most of them are in attendance fairly regularly. Diana
Talkington is our paid staff person who works mostly with the older of
the two age groups, while a different volunteer each week works with the
younger of the groups. A young man, Don Swift, has been hired to provide
child care. The L.R.E. Committee has been very busy in planning the
curriculum for children's religious education and assuring its quality.
Two recent chairpersons have stepped down. Joy Maidment was
regrettably unable to continue in that position after she took over from
Deborah Frock. Deborah had chaired the committee for several years. In
the last three years of her tenure, which ended December, 2001, Deborah
had been serving simultaneously as L.R.E. Committee Chair, teacher, and
acting Director or Religious Education.
In May, 2000 UUFES received a grant of $3,300 from the Lewis Downing
Trust (from the Concord NH UU Church) to assist us as we grow the
Fellowship. A few months later, President JoAnne Rainville received word
that the Fellowship was receiving a grant of $2,000 from the District
Chalice Lighter Program. In their announcement they stated: "Being
a small congregation which has moved in just a few years from a lay-led
group to ordaining one of your members and providing a small salary for
that person, we believe you have exhibited potential for a congregation.
We note that you have gone from twice a month services to weekly
services and have a strong program committee. Just when things are
moving forward your minister is ready to retire. If you can bring flame
to these embers perhaps we can have another strong congregation in our
district. We offer this help to bring a regular part-time minister in
for the professionalism this provides. We are particularly interested to
note the geography of our two-state district and the location of our
present congregations seeing that a UU presence in the area of the
Eastern Slopes would allow a liberal presence to many presumably in
need." Grants are not given without the considerable effort of
individuals who prepared the application materials. Recognition is due
to Doug Leathem who promoted the Chalice Lighter Program, and to JoAnne
Rainville, Brenda Taylor, and John Hancock for preparation of the
In spring, 2001, the UUA awarded UUFES a $5000 grant in matching
funds for fundraising, specifically to be used for outreach. The
advertising line in the 2001-02 budget was increased to $6000. The plan
was to conduct three radio campaigns of daily ads, each one about two
weeks in length, spaced out over the year (early fall, early winter,
spring). Again, this came about through the tireless efforts of JoAnne,
Brenda, and John. As an aside, all grant-writing activity, Governing
Board meetings, and the meetings of several committees during the
two-year presidency of JoAnne Rainville were held at the home of JoAnne
and Brenda. For everyone involved, that home became "UUFES
The Annual Yard Sale held late June netted $1400. In August, JoAnne,
Brenda and Kathy made an on-the-spur-of-the-moment effort to clear out
some more items from the inventory, and sold another $230 worth. Beth
Bonanno spearheads the sale each year. Roger Burnell (Kathy's
father-in-law) generously loans his home and driveway for storing sale
items before the sale and space on the sale day. His prime location in
Conway Village helps make the sale a success. The previous summer, sale
receipts were $1132 which, when matched by the UU Funding Group, brought
in a total of about $2,265.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee sponsors a Guest At Your
Table Program each fall. The Social Concerns Committee conducted a
service for GAYT on October 27, 2002, led by Sandra Carr and JoAnne
Rainville. Fifteen members/families were signed up, raising a total of
$720 for the UUSC.
Barbara Reed initiated a one-person fundraising project in March,
2001 which is ongoing. She designed a stained-glass medallion which is
produced by an artist in Maine. It is a circular window-hung piece
featuring a flaming chalice against a mountainous background that
represents the "eastern slopes"; thus, it may be thought of as
our logo. Several members have bought one. It makes a lovely gift.
Barbara also has tiles, teeshirts and notepaper with the flaming chalice
logo. These are sometimes on display at Sunday services. Profits go to
Each year the Social Concerns Committee sponsors a book donation
service in late April. The one in 2001 collected a huge selection of
books - from gardening, poetry, philosophy to children's literature -
which were then donated to the Chocorua Library. Each book bore a
nameplate that advised readers it was a gift from UUFES. The collection,
worth about $1700 retail, allowed the librarian to select books of her
own choosing, for a like amount of money, per a matching grant policy.
The annual pledge drive conducted last April made an effort to visit
members in their homes in an ALL UUFES CANvass. The canvass raised a
pledge amount of $44,984, a 19% increase over the previous year and a
new record. The mean pledge amount was $1000; the median, $670; the
range, $100 to $4500. Over 91% of the 46 member units pledged, as did
Finally, mention should be made of how UUFES has dealt with the
familiar tradition of "passing the plate." Nearly every year
at Annual Meeting the issue comes up, a motion is made, and soundly
defeated. This scenario itself has become the tradition. At the last
meeting in 2002, the motion "to pass the plate during morning
services" received one vote in support.
During the first two weeks of March, 2001, the Long Range Planning
and Finance Committees teamed up to conduct interviews of about ½-hour
each with nearly all UUFES members and friends. The goal was to provide
an opportunity for each person to speak honestly and confidentially in
their own homes about what they feel is right or lacking in the
Fellowship, as well as expressing their visions for our future. The
essence of all their thoughts and opinions were presented at a Vision
Quest service held on March 18th.
A Mission Statement attempts to portray how a Fellowship defines
itself and its purposes. Two years ago the Governing Board noted that
our existing Mission Statement had been articulated more than 7 years
earlier, in 1994, when the membership was much smaller. It was clearly
time to reexamine our mission and formulate our statement of it to
reflect accurately what UUFES wants to be and to accomplish. A large
turnout of members and friends met in the late fall, 2001 to begin the
process of revision. The rich output of their efforts that day was given
to the Long Range Planning Committee to fashion into coherent form.
The LRPC presented its final version to the Board the following
February. The Board accepted that version and placed it on the warrant
for Fellowship action at the Annual Meeting, May, 2002. After a brief
discussion of the congregation's central role in determining the main
elements of the Mission Statement before them, it was adopted
The mission of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern
Slopes is to be a welcoming congregation of people of good will who
unite: · To encourage and support spiritual and intellectual growth in
children, youth and adults · To be a living model of respect for
diversity and differences, encouraging the free expression of thoughts,
ideas and beliefs · To provide a caring community in which individuals
and families come together in friendship, respect and joy · To act on
our Unitarian Universalist principles to improve out community, locally
and globally, through social action and outreach
This past year witnessed the marriage of two UUFES members, Erin K.
Wright and Howard Stanten.
At a Special Meeting on December 6, 2002, Dick Cary and Rod Forsman
presented information about what the Long Range Planning Committee has
accomplished in its efforts toward the goal of a future home for UUFES.
The two of them and Rick Friend have visited the UU societies at Durham,
Plymouth, and Sanford (ME) to see how they acquired their church
buildings, size and space characteristics, costs of construction and
maintenance, and financing. A retired architect, Dick has sketched
preliminary plans for what UUFES would need as we grow. He has estimated
a total of 4000-6000 square feet, to include a 40' X 40' sanctuary and a
fellowship hall which would house a dining area, kitchen, library,
minister's study, bathrooms, and children's R.E. space.
A key element in planning is location. Last year Rod made a map of
our catchment area of Western Maine and N.H., and placed pins in the
specific locations where members and friends reside. The result made
evident one clear fact: our present location at Runnells Hall in
Chocorua is the geocenter of the wide demographic spread of the
congregation. Conclusion: we need to try to keep our location as close
as possible to where we are now.
It turns out that a former member of UUFES, now living in
Massachusetts, owns land off Route 113, east of Runnells Hall. Rod has
been corresponding with him for nearly two years. The Committee has
presented some different options to him, and the one currently
approaching the negotiation stage is a 5.02 acre parcel on the north
side of Route 113, about 6/10 mile east of Runnells Hall. Test pits were
dug late last fall, and possible site locations have been considered.
A straw vote was held among the two dozen or so attending the
meeting, and the vote was unanimous in favor of proceeding with our
Yet another congregational survey was carried out in December 2002
because of the Search Committee's need to offer fully up-to-date
information about UUFES to prospective ministerial candidates. Fifty
people responded. Females outnumbered males 2:1. Almost half of the
respondents are 60 or older. Almost half hold post-graduate degrees.
Only 16% are lacking the bachelor's degree. 56% are married or have a
live-in partner. There are 10 children in the religious education
program. Family income ranges between <$20K to over $150K. The most
frequently chosen reasons for continuing to attend UUFES are: UU
beliefs, fellowship, and worship. These three elements plus spiritual
growth and celebrating common values were selected as the most important
aspects of congregational life. The majority want the minister to preach
twice/month. Of the 16 specific item components of a service, the six
selected most frequently as important are: sermon, 44; candles of
concern, 36; chalice lighting, 33; children's story, 30; coffee hour, 28
(!); and singing by congregation, and meditation, 25 each. Almost 80%
want a fixed format of Sunday Service with variations for special
The remainder of the survey items dealt with content and objectives
of the worship service, ministerial functions, and ministerial
administrative role and leadership style.