Going forward, Board Briefs will be available at this link:


May 24, 2022

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Janice Kuhns for work in the memorial garden and including children in the process
  • Charlene Sinclair for a great job with the Vigil for the tragic shootings in Buffalo
  • Jay Clarke for showing up on short notice to give the board welcome in the service
  • Matt Stepanich for stepping up and keeping the building looking great
  • Tom Grahek for a well-run budget forum after the service
  • Everyone in the May 15th service for rolling through the sound issues, including Jamie Kilpatrick with providing fill-in music and the tech team for getting the system back up


We should end the church fiscal year with a positive balance.  Although revenue continued to come in below budget in April by ($9,504), expenditures are also below budget by ($7,720) resulting in a positive variance of $17,709 above what was budgeted.

The Capital Campaign for the Roof and Energy project has collected $860,993 of the $1,335,665 pledge commitments.

April 2022 Cong Financial update

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: The LDC continues to search for the remaining open board position, Secretary, for congregational approval during the Annual Meeting on June 5th.  Responses have been positive following the announcement of the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) nominees for congregational approval during the Annual Meeting.

 STEWARDSHIP/GENEROSITY UPDATE: Pledges of $514,000 have been received from 139 households, which is slightly ahead of this time last year.  Direct contact will be made to members who contribute through auto-withdrawal, but have not yet submitted a pledge, to confirm pledge intentions for the next fiscal year.  Contact will also be made to members who pledged for the current fiscal year and have not yet contributed.


  • Kelli McNeal passed the MFC (Ministerial Fellowship Committee) review in December, and has asked First UU Richmond to co-ordain her with First UU Columbus, her current congregation in Ohio, with Rev. Sherman Logan speaking at her ordination.
  • With Tom Foster’s retirement from practicing law, Marion Werkheiser, Founding Partner and Chief Executive of Cultural Heritage Partners, has offered legal counsel for First UU with an immediate need to review the architectural contract for the roof repair project.
  • Members are being accepted to participate virtually or in-person in the UUA General Assembly, as well as to represent First UU as one of 12 delegates for voting, which does not require attending the general assembly sessions.

April 2022

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Alex Gecker for her new baby and wonderful addition to the First UU family
  • Sherman Logan for a wonderful Easter Service
  • Carol Dunlap for her leadership skills and with maintaining focus on topic with the Ministerial Search Committee nomination process
  • The Leadership Development Committee with nominating a wonderfully diverse slate of nominees for the board and committees to the board
  • David Robbins, Paul Dolci, Bari Ramsey, and Dianna MacPherson for their hard work with managing all of the technical elements of virtual services and keeping it going
  • Lauren Levwood and our Stewardship Ambassadors for an excellent job running the stewardship and generosity campaign


While revenue has not been increasing like we would hope and compared to last year at this time, the positive news is that we are spending less.  Current month revenue is $13,610 below budget, and fiscal year to date through March shows a positive variance to budget of $19,693.

Mar 2022 cong financial update

The Finance Committee is improving the financial dashboard view to remove items that will become ‘reversing entries’, such as Endowment Revenue and self-funding Mission Programs, as well as to add the latest progress with the Capital Campaign.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: A full slate of nominees have been identified for positions on the Board and Committees to the Board for congregational approval during the Annual Meeting on June 5th, and work continues with reviewing nominees and supporting recommendations for the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) to identify a group of 7 nominees for a well-represented diversity of First UU members to instill trust with the congregation for approval during the Annual Meeting. 

STEWARDSHIP/GENEROSITY UPDATE: Pledges of $514,000 have been received from 134 out of 400 households and the GenerosiTea event held after the April 24th service closes the official 6-week campaign.  Next steps will include direct contact to the remaining households that have not submitted pledges and to households that have not contributed for the current fiscal year per their pledges last year 


  • We welcomed Rev. Amy Russell to First UU as part-time Assistant Minister on April 3rd
  • First UU has been asked to sponsor DRUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), for which Rev. Tyler Coles, Affiliate Minister to First UU, will be a guest speaker
  • Classes to ‘Create Your Own Scripture’ by Rev. Dr. Olson Peebles from Charlottesville have been well received
  • Two OWL (Our Whole Lives) classes were held in April for youth who had their classes interrupted by COVID
  • Preparations for Pathways will resume for the next session in June with a mix of virtual and in-person participation
  • General Assembly is scheduled for June 22nd through June 26th with in-person and virtual attendance; First UU can help members with registration costs if interested in attending, and 12 voting delegates will be selected to represent First UU

March 22, 2022

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Margaret Rush and Lauren Levwood for the creative idea of ‘Give a Pledge, Get a Pie’ to kick off the annual generosity campaign on Sunday, March 13th
  • Beth Miksovic for coordinating the hospitality team restart for in-person services
  • David Robbins, the First UU Singers, Jamie Kilpatrick, and Nu Beginning for sharing their wonderful music and energy with the congregation
  • Lauren Levwood for a really nice, fun, and well-planned service with Candace Evans and Drew Fridley
  • Dylan Clarke for his leadership in coordinating the history walk with the teens on Sunday in Jackson Ward


We are overall in a very solid place with the finances as of the end of February.  Although revenue continues to come in below budget, by $14,617 in February, which is offset by expenses remaining below budget resulting in a positive variance of $47,853 for the fiscal year.

Feb 2022 cong financial update

The revenue gap to budget will be included in the discussion with Rev. Sherman Logan and staff for budget planning for the 2022/2023 fiscal year.  A draft budget will be presented to the board in April and to the congregation in May/June for a vote.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: The LDC reconvened the week of March 14th to revisit the timeline for identifying candidates for the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) for a congregational vote.  Work continues towards the goal of reaching out to everyone in the congregation through (4) forums, and through other means.  The LDC is also identifying candidates for positions on the Board, the LDC, and the Endowment Committee.

 Capital Campaign Update:

Over $1,325,000 has been pledged to date and over $700,000 has been received, allowing the Roof Project Committee to proceed with hiring an architect to finalize the roof project plan.  In celebration of the results and hard work with the campaign, a Capital Campaign Concert is scheduled for Saturday, June 11th at 2PM at First UU to Celebrate with Chopin with Eliot Norman and friends.

STEWARDSHIP/GENEROSITY UPDATE: We had a strong kickoff on March 13th with ‘Give a Pledge, Get a Pie’, and the next event is scheduled for April 24th, Generosi-Tea, which will include tea, food, and music outdoors.


  • Success with the first two services for vaccinated and masked visitors led to opening more broadly on March 20th with a max capacity of 125 in the Great Hall, with overflow in the lobby and President’s Hall; pre-registration is being used to aid in contact tracing if the need should arise
  • Children are welcome at all services, including multi-generational services, and visitors should be aware that children under 5 years of age will be unvaccinated
  • The nursery was reopened beginning on March 13th and we are hiring two more people
  • First UU provided certification of congregation to the UUA in February with 651 members, which is 70 less than in 2021 due to departures and losses

February 22, 2022

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Leigh Ann Luscan for stepping in over the past month with the children and FLAME, including the fire the day after the Vigil for Rev. Jeanne Pupke, Memorial Garden walks, and preparing engaging content for Black History month
  • Lauren Levwood for her Family Ministry outreach to Alex Gecker, which made her feel sincerely welcomed into the group
  • Bari Ramsey, Paul Dolci, Dave Robbins, Jamie Kilpatrick, and everyone else that consistently provide Sunday service streaming so well and smoothly
  • Wendy DeGroat and the Lay Pastoral Care (LPC) team for a remarkable job with providing support with grace during this especially challenging time for our congregation
  • Jeanne Pupke for planning such a nice memorial with beautiful music to help us to process our grief for her loss
  • Everyone who contributed in some way to the Memorial for Rev. Jeanne Pupke


Although January revenue was below budget by 19%, we are still tracking well with our finances overall with a positive variance of $53,581 for the fiscal year.  This revenue deficit was offset by expenses remaining below budget, similar to prior months.

The budget process is underway for the 2022/2023 fiscal year with Rev. Sherman Logan and staff working on recommendations with the various groups on budget needs.  A draft budget will be presented to the board in March/April and to the congregation in May/June for a vote.

Capital Campaign Update:

  • The Capital Campaign committee is preparing their final report for the board in March
  • On a positive note, some members who moved away from Richmond made a donation to the Capital Campaign after the Memorial for Rev. Jeanne Pupke
  • The Quilters are working on a quilt using Kathleen VanPaasschen’s remaining supplies in her memory and will raffle it off with donations going to the Capital Campaign.
  • A grant has been submitted for the roof project for improvements to notable religious buildings

Roof Project Committee: Jay Clarke and Larry Kruger attended the Roof Project Team meeting in February along with Rev. Sherman Logan to get an update on progress from the team and to help resolve questions and facilitate requests to the bookkeeper and the Board.

Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry:  Rev. Charlie Dieterich and Rev. Susan Karlson facilitated discussion with the Board on the loss of our beloved minister, Rev. Jeanne Pupke, with critical stress management, and with taking care of ourselves and each other through the year

January 25, 2022

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Janice Kuhns for a thorough update on the removal of two trees in the Memorial Garden in the First News Weekly with facts, reasoning, and acknowledgement that some people may have strong feelings on this necessary removal
  • Reverend Sherman Logan for a fantastic sermon on January 23rd
  • Dianna MacPherson for her tireless efforts and excellent communications
  • Our production crew, Bari Ramsey and Paul Dolci, with their excellent execution with streaming services
  • Larry Landon and Carol Dunlap of the Leadership Development Committee (LDC), Denise Rimes, and Christine Purcell of the UUA for a non-anxious presence and explanation of the process for forming a Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) by congregational vote
  • Hazal Gokmen and Larry Kruger for their work as scribes for the Town Hall on the MSC process for building an FAQ document
  • The LDC and their strong leader, Carol Dunlap, for being one of the highest performing groups in First UU
  • The Trustees and Board of Directors for strong leadership as we navigate through these interesting times of COVID, streaming services, and ministerial transition


Although December revenue is slightly below budget by 4%, expenses continue below budget resulting in a positive variance of $53,597 for the fiscal year.  As of the end of December and midpoint of the fiscal year, pledge revenue is approximately 51% received.

Minister’s Report

  • Sherman Logan reported that church staff continues to monitor CDC guidance in support of developing a reopening plan, which will include safe distancing, masking, no coffee hour, use of overflow areas in the church, and possibly two services in addition to continuing streamed services for people that choose not to attend in person
  • Additional details on reopening will be shared with the congregation, including invites for vaccinated participants to register to attend services in person; remaining vacancies will be opened to the rest of the congregation prior to the Sunday service
  • One exception to required vaccination will be for multi-generational services that will include children under 5 years old without access to vaccination programs
  • Small groups are still welcome to meet at First UU for all vaccinated participants in groups of 10 or less, for one hour, and with masking required
  • Church staff are returning to First UU on Tuesday through Thursday from 10AM to 2PM beginning on February 3rd

 Additional Highlights

  • First UU members met with Bridgette Taylor, our First UU social work intern, to discuss sponsoring a family of refugees from Afghanistan, similar to what Eno River had presented in one of our shared services. Next steps include forming a group of dedicated volunteers and raising funds.  Additional details have been shared in First News Weekly communications
  • The group working on the next phase of ‘Widening the Circle’ is regrouping to decide if a new approach is needed
  • The board voted to approve Justin Tolley in his role on the Leadership Development Committee
  • Jay Clarke provided an update on the remaining revisions to the by-laws that are under review with the finance committee to complete the bylaws review process for presentation to the congregation for a vote.
  • Carol Dunlap, chair for the LDC, recognized a great job by Larry Landon in the Town Hall for detailing the process that will be used to create a list of qualified candidates for the congregation to vote on to form the ministerial search committee (MSC). Immediate actions include developing a candidate recommendation form and job description for the MSC candidates, and reaching out to 4-6 focus groups to generate interest in participating in the MSC.  The anticipated date for the congregation to vote on the (7) members of the MSC is April 10th, although additional updates will be provided to the congregation to keep everyone informed on progress.
  • Denise Rimes provided an update from the Roof Project Committee that a project plan and scope is being drafted for architect review.

December 2021 (meeting held 1/4/22)

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • June Bohrer for an incredible job with orchestrating the Quilters on ‘Days for Girls’, a project to build kits of personal hygiene items to enable women to work throughout the month without disruption, as well as with coordinating collection for the Mitten Tree
  • Susanna Calvert, Dr. Charlene Sinclair, Lauren Levwood, and Anita Lee for working through struggles and challenges on hearing for healing, transformational change, and personal embodiment for change, to build it from the ground up
  • A special thank you to everyone who made December services possible, including the Membership Committee, musicians, staff, and live-streaming support
  • Lauren Levwood for her success with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and being recognized for leading one of the best sermons


Although revenue was slightly down for the month of November, expenditures were further down, resulting in a positive balance for the month and for the fiscal year.

Minister’s Report

  • Jeanne Pupke detailed how gathering in person is being delayed beyond January to monitor COVID/Omicron cases and to follow health guidance for reopening safely at the appropriate time and with the appropriate safety factors
  • Jeanne will be on sabbatical at the end of January through March 20th to pursue rest, personal development, and to work for the UUMA
  • The focus for Family Sundays, including unvaccinated children under 5 years old, will continue to be evaluated for safe meeting, including outdoor activities when possible
  • Jeanne will continue to step back from the leadership role, especially when future plans are being discussed, while Rev. Sherman Logan transitions into Acting Sr. Minister

Capital Campaign

Our congregation achieved both match challenges in December of a $10k match for achieving 50% participation and a $25,000 match on $1,000+ donations bringing the total to over $1,273,000.  With over $413,000 received, we are in good shape to proceed with the Roof & Energy Project.  A committee is being formed and Tom Norton has volunteered to lead it with several members of the Roof & Energy Task force joining as well.  The committee will begin meeting in January with first steps to get bids from architects for the roof project.  Additional information will be shared with the congregation as it is developed, including a team charter.

Additional Highlights

  • Lauren Levwood reviewed the process for leading the Generosity Campaign for the current fiscal year with Margaret Rush and discussed ideas for developing a team of four to six volunteers to lead the effort for next fiscal year, with efforts to begin in mid-March
  • The Leadership Development Committee (LDC) met with Christine Purcell, Transitions Program Manager, UUA, on identifying candidates for the search committee and a variety of ways to broaden representation from the congregation
  • The LDC is also identifying candidates to fill future vacancies for the next fiscal year beginning in July (e.g. Board of Directors, Committee on Mission, LDC, etc.)

November 2021

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Eno River with their great work with the Afghan Family Support Project
  • Anne-Marie McCartan, Kevin Thrasher, and the Capital Campaign Committee with the quality and thoughtfulness of the pledge acknowledgements and thank you cards
  • Members of the congregation who contributed feedback and questions on the ministerial transition – we are grateful for the interest and engagement
  • The Leadership Development Committee for tenacity and persistence and grounding themselves for the work and preparations for the ministerial search committee
  • Bari Ramsey and Paul Dolci for continuing to do a magnificent job with the live-streaming services
  • The Membership Committee for doing the hard work with facilitating the process for bringing people back into the church for services


We are in a good position for the first four months of the fiscal year with 35% of pledge revenue received, which is only slightly lower than last year at this time.  Expenses continue to remain below budget, resulting in a balance of $49,175 above budget for July through October.

Minister’s Report

  • Jeanne Pupke provided an update on the soft opening of First UU – members from the Leadership Group were invited to attend the December 5th and 19th services to evaluate how well the safety protocols and guest services process handles an expanded audience beyond participants in the service
  • A church pageant is scheduled for December 12th for families and children to participate in person
  • All will be invited to a Christmas Eve service in the courtyard with an expectation that everyone will be masked and vaccinated (if older than 5 years old)
  • A Kwanzaa service on December 26th will be streamed from Eno River with members of BLUU Harbors group invited to attend in First UU
  • Beginning in January, open services with sign-ups are being evaluated with consideration of potential surges in COVID infection rates from holiday gatherings, the Omicron variant, and subject to Public Health advisements
  • Changes will include ventilating spaces differently, using ushers to seat members and visitors in the sanctuary and other spaces where video will be provided, and temporarily cancelling in-person coffee hour so that we take each step safely with an overall focus of keeping kids healthy to attend school
  • Music and Ministry Director, Dave Robbins, continues to get oriented to First UU and more active in services, and welcomes visits during office hours
  • Jeanne Pupke will be taking Sabbatical January 22nd through March 22nd, during which Rev. Sherman Logan will be Acting Sr. Minister


Capital Campaign

Kevin Thrasher provided an update on recorded gifts and commitments of $1,053,000 with a 33% participation rate from members.  The primary outreach has been focused to small groups, so the Capital Campaign Committee will expand efforts by staffing the table in the lobby as attendance to Sunday services continues to ramp up, and by making direct phone calls to church members in January.  With over $400k received, we can initiate the engineering and architectural planning for the roof replacement.


Additional Highlights

  • The Leadership Development Committee made a recommendation to the board to fill two vacancies in the LDC, with a proposal of a member that will be reviewed by the board, and a liaison from the board
  • Jay Clarke will work with Tom Grahek to get the Finance Committee details updated in the revisions to the By-Laws to pass on to the board for a vote by February to pass on to the Congregation for review.

October 2021

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Everybody who has helped with streaming the Sunday services, specifically Bari Ramsey, who learned new software, and Paul Dolci
  • Capital Campaign Committee who has done great work with early donors and the outreach events for the campaign kickoff
  • FLAME volunteers, and Lauren Levwood and Leigh Ann Luscan for their creativity with developing the program and with knowing what to do for kids with grace and enthusiasm
  • Lauren Levwood, Dr. Charlene Sinclair, Anita Lee, and Susanna Calvert who put together the next chapter of Widening the Circle


Revenues were slightly lower than expenses at ($1,458) and expenses were lower than budget ($9,981), so we continue to maintain a modest positive balance for our first quarter of the fiscal year.  Pledge revenue is mostly on track as well.

Minister’s Report

  • Jeanne Pupke shared positive news that children will soon have access to vaccines and the rate of COVID continues to decrease, both of which are critical for consideration on when to return to services in the church with a larger group of people
  • Three in-person services are planned for December in the courtyard: a Solstice Pageant on December 12th, a Christmas Eve service on December 24th, and a Kwanzaa service on December 26th
  • The Church will initially open Tuesday through Thursday, and small groups are encouraged to return to meeting in the church, including for meetings beyond one hour
  • Participants were enthusiastic about the first two gatherings of the FLAME program

 Capital Campaign

Anne-Marie McCartan and Kevin Thrasher provided an update on the campaign with pledges of over $825,000 that are contributing to a great start towards our goal of 100% participation for our $2MM campaign through December 2023 (2.3 years).  Funds support beginning the planning for the architectural design work, so a committee will be formed to lead the effort. 

Additional Highlights

  • Byron "Tyler" Coles hopes to affiliate with First UU following a relocation to Richmond in the late summer while serving as a member of the UUA's Congregational Life Staff in the Southern Region. Rev. Coles interned and was ordained at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church and is now pursuing affiliate ministry for a covenantal agreement with a congregation.
  • Jim Armstrong shared ideas with the board on the ministerial search process, of which several FUU boards have worked on various elements of transition since 2016. The board will work with Leadership Development Committee and various UUA sources for wisdom while framing up plans for the process of gathering nominations for the search committee over the next two months.
  • Jay Clarke reviewed the work in process on the revision to the Bylaws in response to feedback received by several members.  Next steps include finalizing language with the financial committee and Reverend Sherman Logan prior to review with the congregation

September 2021

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Leigh Ann Luscan, Lauren Levwood, and Rev. Jeanne Pupke held two meetings with parents to introduce the new RE focus, register kids, and encourage volunteer participation
  • Lauren Levwood for her work with Jewish Lives of UU with planning, a video, and showing to First UU Family
  • Charlene Sinclair, Susanna Calvert, Lauren Levwood, and Anita Lee for working hard on the next iteration of Widening the Circle for an upcoming rollout
  • The Capital Campaign Committee with a great start with early canvassing


Although we are little under budget in the 2nd month of the church year at ($9,376), donations tend to be lower in the early months, and there is less focus than last year at this time with the request for additional donations to avoid salary reductions during the first year of COVID.  As a result of reduced spending, our balance is $19,934 above budget.

Minister’s Report

  • Jeanne Pupke reviewed a report on stewardship over the last year, noting that all but 12 households contributed; however, only 53% of the total contributed had been committed as a formal pledge prior to the church year. This aligns with comments from some members that they are not comfortable with committing to formal pledges.
  • Attendance trends have been going down over the course of the virtual services, including Children’s Chapel, primary Service, and later views on Youtube, which is similar to experiences at other UU congregations.
  • First UU continues to invite healthy people to the church for small gatherings that are vaccinated, masked, and socially distancing for 1 hour or less, and we will continue to encourage meetings without food to ensure good mask usage.
  • Altars of Remembrance will be held on October 31, 2021 for children and others to bring copies of photos, mementos, and words that are meaningful to them for people that have been lost over the last 18 months while we have been unable to meet in person.
  • First UU will share services with sister congregation, Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, beginning in the end of October to share with a similar sized congregation with whom we have a close connection.
  • The RE program will restart as FLAME, Family Learning and Multi-Cultural Enrichment, to share learning between children and adults to replace the older ‘Sunday School’ model. Outdoor events will be planned with the expectation that vaccines will soon be approved for children.

Capital Campaign:

Anne-Marie McCartan and Kevin Thrasher provided an update on early canvassing to early donors, staff, and board members.  Recorded gifts and commitments are contributing to a great start towards our goal of 100% participation for our $2MM campaign through December 2023 (2.3 years).  Many members have acknowledged that the great work and report-out by the Roof Task Force has provided high confidence in the Capital Campaign.

The campaign will kickoff in a sermon on October 17, 2021 with planned festivities in the courtyard from 3 to 5PM and to provide information on the campaign.  A family focused event is scheduled for October 24 at PARK365 and will be shared in First News Weekly.

Additional Highlights:

  • The COM (Committee on Mission) is taking a step back to assess its function within the organization. The monthly leadership meetings have grown in their ability to serve as a communication channel, as almost everyone in the congregation is within contact of someone engaged with leadership.  As a result, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) will suspend recruitment for COM for the next few months.  One or two people will be recruited to join the committee when recruiting re-commences.
  • Jim Armstrong and Jeff Clark have proposed a review of the congregational covenant, perhaps with involvement with the COM and will follow-up to the board with a plan.
  • Tyler Coles has expressed interest in becoming an Affiliate Minister to First UU while he is part of the Southern Region Staff as an affiliated minister and in Preliminary Fellowship. This will require Board approval.

Detailed meeting minutes and documents from this Board Meeting held last week will be posted in the Member Portal after they have been approved by the Board in the next Board meeting on the last Tuesday of this month.

August 2021

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Steve Saltzberg and the RISC Team Leaders for growing the First UU RISC participation from 5 to over 200 people
  • Linda Ericson for 6 years of devoted service as co-leader for Lay Pastoral Care
  • Harvey Iwata and Melissa Ferrell for their dedication in tackling the church closets cleanout
  • The Capital Campaign Roof Taskforce for great work and a remarkable presentation
  • Charlene Sinclair, Susanna Calvert, Lauren Levwood, and Anita Lee for the new approach to commission on institutional change with Widening the Circle, including training people to lead groups in difficult conversations
  • The Capital Campaign Steering Committee for staying focused to the task through this challenging time


Although revenue is down 23% ($13,832) compared to last year at this time, we are not worried as summer is typically a slower time for donations and we anticipate revenue will increase during the fall and through the end of year.  Additionally, we were communicating our "aspirational" budget last year at this time to avoid staff cuts, and the congregation answered the call with driving revenue higher than typical for July.

Minister’s Report

  • The Delta variant has changed everything, and many churches that had set dates for a return to in-person services are regretting their decision. Our tentative return date has been pushed out until such time as the Delta variant transmission rates show decline.
  • We will continue to welcome in-person small groups that are vaccinated, masked, distanced, commit to sanitizing the space after they meet, and refrain from serving drinks or food.
  • Equipment has been received for streaming services and staff is developing the appropriate protocols to minimize risk for in-person participants.
  • Staff changes include hiring Leigh Ann Luscan to lead OWL and youth programming, which will include completing the Spring 2020 session and starting a new session; Lauren Levwood has been increased to full-time internship for K-5 and to lead integrated services and gatherings with that age group; and Dr. Charlene Sinclair is stepping back from ministerial internship but will stay involved as a member and leader in First UU.
  • Plans for the last half of 2021 will be shared in services and E-mail communications. Staff has been working on many exciting opportunities to stay engaged and connected with our beloved community.

Capital Campaign:

Anne-Marie McCartan shared that there will be (2) report-outs to the congregation on 8/26/21 and 9/2/21 to review the findings and recommendations of the Roof Task Force and to answer questions. A recording of the session and a list of the questions and answers will be available to those who are not able to attend one of the two meetings.

Denise Rimes will connect with Anne-Marie on developing a joint communication to the congregation regarding the kickoff of the Capital Campaign, and staff will review a list of ideas that were submitted for increasing community during our extended virtual connection to see what is possible to do fairly, safely, and justly with our current level of staffing and in addition to current church year planning.

July 2021

Due to vacations and work schedules, the Board cancelled its July meeting.  We did meet on July 27 to review feedback from a task force that has been looking at the need for roof repairs long with other actions that could help make our building more energy efficient.  For those of you who are fairly new to the church, we have a flat roof, which has outlasted its life expectancy.  Every time we have a heavy rain, a bucket line has to be set up to catch the many leaks.  As part of our upcoming capital campaign, we will raise funds to pay for the repairs, among a number of other items that the congregation approved over a year and a half ago.  Be on the lookout for an invitation to town hall meetings that will offer highlights of the roof report and plans for the capital campaign.

We closed out our books in June, as our fiscal year ended June 30.  Our end-of the-year finish was very positive!

Our Treasurer, Tom Grahek, provided some key comments:

  • Our PPP loan was forgiven!!!!! Our income statement now reflects miscellaneous income of $105,485 as a result.
  • Revenue of $977,573 was $43,847 above our budget.
  • Expenses of $852,377 was $26, 862 under our budget.
  • June expenses were higher than budgeted for the month, due to payments for our technology project, which is enhancing our cameras, software, hardware, installation, and training to prepare the church for streaming live services.

In both the revenue and expense categories, we were unsure how our finances would play out, but sound expense management and our committed congregation led us to a fantastic year-end.  We continue to be blessed with generous members and friends, who continue to offer their time, talent and treasures for the good of the whole church.

June 2021

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Bari Ramsey for his continuing to pull together multi-part Sunday services
  • Organizers of the farewell celebration for retirees Diane Woodruff and Rev. Sue Sinnamon and Board members present that day
  • Paul Daniels for his work with the Jewish spirituality group
  • Liz Coit, consultant on the capital campaign--"an astute observer and good collaborator"
  • Fran Brune and Charlene Sinclair for work with Neighbor 2 Neighbor groups
  • Outgoing Board members Jim Armstrong and Janine Daniels, who will each receive a chalice

Minister’s Report

  • Children’s Chapel and Vespers are on hiatus until mid-August. There are many families taking time off during the summer, so attendance is typically very small.
  • Lauren Levwood, one of our fabulous interns, will be our summer minister.
  • Charlene Sinclair will continue some of Rev Sue’s programs.
  • Jamie Kilpatrick will be acting as music coordinator.
  • Gallery leaders have decided that collaborating with the Cary St market is not viable, so there will be no Gallery this year.
  • In regard to returning to the building in person, a detailed report on how events and access will unfold will be published in Weekly. Briefly, all services will be live-streamed and additional on-site access provided. New technology staff will be hired, equipment bought, and volunteers trained. Gradual progress from single service to two services plus coffee hour. Service times may change, but plans have not been finalized


The Board returned to the discussion of bylaws changes, since that topic was not on the agenda at the annual meeting.  We are taking the opportunity to get as much feedback as we can, particularly as it relates to the Finance Committee.  If the Finance Committee remains in the bylaws, the job description should include the responsibility of assisting in strategic financial planning.  The Committee could also serve as a pipeline for possible nominees for the Treasurer position.

Beloved Community Dialogues for Transformation

Dr. Charlene Sinclair provided a brief update on the restructuring of Widening the Circle.  Our approach will be called “Beloved Community Dialogues for Transformation.”  Our folks expressed a desire to be anchored in our theology, particularly around social justice.   There will be more information in the next few weeks.


We continue to experience financial stability with a positive variance.  Our July report will recap how we did for the year, but we continue to be optimistic, given the generosity of our members and friends!


May 2021

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Dianna MacPherson for her excellent quick thinking to make voting at the annual meeting simple and efficient.
  • Ralph Graner for his devoted service as Parliamentarian each year at the annual meeting of the congregation
  • Charlene Sinclair for her re-thinking and re-creating our approach to Widening the Circle, a new version of which will be available soon.
  • Jerry Dixon, staff member, for his diligent and honorable maintenance of the Memorial Garden.
  • Janet Goin and Bob Rogers for their dedicated pastoral support of members and their families in times of need.

Minister’s Report

There has been a significant need for pastoral support in the past few months.  COVID has opened eyes and ears to many things, so the ministerial staff has been busy meeting the needs of those who are grieving, and who have encountered difficulties in the past year.

The fall preaching series is in the planning stages.  Topics will include capitalism, our UU Principles, and our theology in today’s world.  Later this summer, live streaming of services will begin, since once we return to in-person services, we will continue to stream to meet the needs of those who are not able to join us in person.

A new job description is being written for the Music Director position.  A committee will be formed to review that description and assist in the selection process.

At the end of June, the Family Ministry program will be reviewed with the goal of determining how the program will look in the fall.

The Board approved the Committee on Mission slate of candidates.  Although it is a committee of the Board, the bylaws do not require the congregation to vote on nominees.  Susanna Calvert will join COM as a new member, and Dr. Faith Harris has been elected to a second term.  Returning members include Drew Fridley, Anne Joseph, Linda Schlichting, and Louise Werner.

The Board returned to the discussion of bylaws changes, since that topic was not on the agenda at the annual meeting.  We are taking the opportunity to get as much feedback as we can, particularly as it relates to the Finance Committee.  If the Finance Committee remains in the bylaws, the job description should include the responsibility of assisting in strategic financial planning.  The Committee could also serve as a pipeline for possible nominees for the Treasurer position.

The General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association will be totally virtual again this year, and is scheduled for June 23-27.  Registration is $200, and funds are available to support those who would like to attend and could use financial support.  Please contact Denise.Rimes@yahoo.com if you are interested in being a delegate, representing First UU Church of Richmond.  More information about GA can be found at https://www.uua.org/ga.

Dr. Charlene Sinclair provided a brief update on the restructuring of Widening the Circle.  Our approach will be called “Beloved Community Dialogues for Transformation.”  Our folks expressed a desire to be anchored in our theology, particularly around social justice.   There will be more information in the next few weeks, and facilitators will be recruited and trained to lead small group gatherings.  Stay tuned for more information.


Giving continues to be very strong.  There was a slight dip in revenue and a slight increase in expenses, which is due to timing of payments.  We anticipate ending the year in excellent shape!


April, 2021

Recognition went out this month to the following:

  • Cardinal Elementary School teachers for their herculean efforts in working with their students this year in a virtual environment.
  • Tom Grahek for working so well with the staff and organizing and presenting financial information in a timely and understandable way.
  • Deborah Coleman for her long-time devotion and commitment to Living the Richmond Pledge, keeping her ears and heart open to community conversations, and serving most recently as co-chair. Deborah is stepping down from that role and we are grateful for her many contributions.
  • Amanda Burton, our bookkeeper, who has enabled us to better understand church finances and shared her creativity to help us better visualize our financial position.

Capital Campaign

Anne Marie McCartan and Kevin Thrasher provided an update on the campaign’s launch of our financial feasibility study that will assess our giving capacity.  Liz Coit, our consultant, will be conducting interviews with a variety of congregational members during the first three weeks of May.  The Roof Committee is close to producing a report on needs, options and costs as part of the campaign effort.    Look for more information about the campaign on the First UU website, coming soon!


Revenues are approximately $7,000 higher than budgeted, and expenses are up as well, due to budget timing (when bills come in and are paid) and the installation of security cameras.  As we currently stand, we have a surplus of nearly $95,000 thanks to the generosity of this congregation, conservative budgeting, and our PPP proceeds.  The fiscal year ends on June 30, so we still have May and June reports to come.

Minister’s Report

Rev. Pupke reported on the success of the Widening the Circle of Concern initiative successfully concluded after 5 weeks (10 sessions) and about 60 unique participants.  The learning and discussions are an integral part of our commitment to the 8th principle, and the participation and feedback have encouraged us to continue offering deep conversation around the topic.  In the late spring, we will continue to invite people in to small group discussions with Widening the Circle at the core, adding opportunities for action and accountability.  Our goal will be to return to in-person gathering (at some point in the future) with the goal of eliminating microaggressions, decentralizing whiteness, and challenging ourselves to grow into beloved community.  More information to come soon.

Intern committees have been formed for our two current folks.  Mary Weiser is chairing the committee for Lauren Levwood, and Deborah Coleman will lead Dr. Charlene Sinclair’s committee.  We welcome both Lauren and Charlene!

Finally, Board meetings are open to any member or friend who would like to know more about how decisions are made and where we are putting our energy.  The next meeting will be May 25 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Keep an eye out in First News for ZOOM information.  Mark your calendars for our Annual Meeting, scheduled for May 16 after the Sunday service.

Board Briefs from Denise Rimes

March, 2021

Apologies for anyone who tried to join the March Board meeting.  We had ZOOM issues that required a new number, and we couldn’t get the information out prior to the meeting.  We will do better in April!

Recognition went out this month to the following folks:

  • Living the Pledge team for the great work they have done to make the course virtual. The most recent offering attracted 40+ participants from around the country!
  • First UU of Richmond Singers for the great work they’ve done, including their recent rendition of “Welcome In.”
  • Our amazing staff for keeping things running so smoothly for the past year.
  • Lynne Pappas on the Sanctuary team, for whom no job was too big or too small!

Capital Campaign

Anne Marie McCarten and Kevin Thrasher reported that a comprehensive case statement has been written for the campaign, and a video has been produced to serve as an introduction for the campaign.  There are now job descriptions for campaign roles, including one for a Campaign Manager (which will be filled by Anne Marie) and a Campaign Assistant, which will be a paid, part-time role (7-10 hrs./wk.) through December.  Look for more information on the role in First News Weekly.

Returning to Church

While it’s still too soon to project a return date, the staff has begun to work on a phased re-entry plan.  Even after we return to the building, we will continue to be a multi-platform church, with both live and live-streamed offerings.  Returning in person means some things may be different, but we are committed to returning to build beloved community in new and inspiring ways.

Widening the Circle of Concern

We are working on scheduling another round of discussions to provide opportunities to those who were unable to attend the first round (or those who would like to discuss again.)  We have many ideas and feedback from the first round that we are pulling together for review and action.


Continued optimism!  The generosity of our congregation has been evident in so many contributions of time, talent and treasures.  A quick overview of our financial position reveals good news; revenues are up ($73, 787), expenses are down ($64,185), and we have a positive balance ($9,601) as of February 28.

The Board is currently reviewing the 2021-2022 budget, and there will be a town hall to review later this month.  Stay tuned for updates.

Finally, Board meetings are open to any member or friend who would like to know more about how decisions are made and where we are putting our energy.  The next meeting will be April 27 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Keep an eye out in First News Weekly for ZOOM information.  Mark your calendars for our Annual Meeting, scheduled for May 16 after the Sunday service.

Board Briefs from Denise Rimes

February, 2021

I recently received some great feedback.  It was suggested that the Board of Directors should do a better job of communicating what we are doing and inviting people in if they are curious about Board work.  As a result, we will endeavor to follow up after each Board meeting to let you know what is going on.

Recognition went out this month to the following folks:

  • Capital Campaign Committee for their work so far in preparation for a campaign and a focus on our leaky roof!
  • Widening the Circle facilitators for the great work over five weeks of meetings.
  • Joan Lewis for organizing weekly walk-abouts to bring people together in a safe way.

Anti-Racism work

We have 50-100 members who are regularly involved in anti-racism work.  We are continuing to ask how we might continue our search for Beloved Community, making sure that the equality we seek is actually how we live.  How can we drive greater accountability among ourselves to work towards the vision we hold?  We will continue to offer opportunities to learn more about what is needed on our journey and how we might engage more deeply.  Another series of Widening the Circle meetings will be offered mid-Spring, so be on the lookout for information.

Capital Campaign

The steering committee for our upcoming Capital Campaign, under the direction of Anne Marie McCarten and Kevin Thrasher, is focusing on a roof replacement, the possibility of installing solar panels, and retiring our debt.  They have engaged a campaign consultant, Liz Coit, from Stewardship For Us.  With Liz’s help, the committee is working on determining the total need and our capacity to meet that need.  Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.

Church Finances

Your generosity, along with careful spending, continues to provide a budget surplus in this church year.  Our monthly financial report will be available soon so that you can see the details.  It’s always a good time to give until you feel good!

First UU Bylaws

It’s been a while since our bylaws were updated to reflect our every-changing environment.  Jay Clarke has received great input on changes, and has done a fine job integrating those comments and making changes that include recognizing the value of virtual gatherings (including annual meetings) and including a Youth Director on the Board.  We hope to bring the changes to the annual meeting in May.

Finally, Board meetings are open to any member or friend who would like to know more about how decisions are made and where we are putting our energy.  The next meeting will be March 30 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Keep an eye out in First News Weekly for ZOOM information.

Late Summer 2020 Update

Family Ministry

UU family ministry comes in many shapes and sizes, at its core, UU family faith development is a journey of relationships. Family members connect with one another, the faith community, and the universe to discover and rediscover a dynamic, sustaining faith.

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond is launching its Family Ministry Program in September.  It will replace the traditional Sunday school model in an effort to bring families, households and our church community together in new and exciting ways.

There will be three major topics for the church year, and each topic will run for four months:

  • Black Lives Matter (September-December) – understanding and celebrating the lives of black, indigenous, and people of color through the lenses of sacredness, allyship, courage and celebration.
  • Nurturing the Earth (January-April)
  • Sanctuary (May-August)

There will be many resources for these topics on the church’s website, including chalice lightings, prayers, readings, books, movies and activities that every household can choose from each month.

On the 1st and 4th Wednesday of each month, there will be a ZOOM call to bring us together around these topics.

  • 1st Wednesday: review of the topic and building understanding
  • 2nd Wednesday: Vespers
  • 3rd Wednesday: Vespers
  • 4th Wednesday: Discussion of activities and learnings

Our ministry team will be building the curriculum and working with various age groups.  Rev. Jeanne will be working with young adults, Rev. Sherman will be working with middle schoolers, and Rev. Sue will be working with the youth.

To learn more about Family Ministry, please visit the First UU website under “Grow in Wisdom.”

Social Justice

We continue to experience strong, impactful efforts in so many areas of our community:  Cardinal Elementary School, RISC, Earth Ministry, Sanctuary, Living the Pledge and so many others.

As a result of the resolution passed at our annual meeting in June, there are a number of new efforts under way:

  • A small team of people who have taken Living the Pledge have gathered to provide action and support during the current election cycle, including gathering information and monitoring legislative activity
  • Another small team of members and non-members are producing informational resources for voter registration, absentee, mail-in, and early voting
  • UUthevote.org is a bounty of resources designed by the UUA to help congregations and individuals get involved in the election cycle
  • The Board of Directors at First UU are contacting local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) organizations to offer support during the upcoming election and legislative cycle
  • A group of young adults and Rev. Jeanne are taking community organizing training through UUtheVote with a goal of learning how to mobilize resources and become involved in the upcoming legislative cycles in Virginia. They are also working on voter registration for the upcoming November elections.

There will be more information available in early October if you are interested in getting involved with these efforts to support our business resolution. You can find more information and the August update to the resolution on the First UU website under “Act for Justice/Social Justice.”