Bringing it Home – A Post for Parents and Kids

You can also find this page for parents in kids in every FUS Newsletter, from our wonderful Minister of Congregational Affairs, Kelly Crocker.

Grace Defined

The unmerited, undeserved and limitless gift of love, mercy, and goodwill shown to humankind by a divine spirit, by humanity when we give gifts toward one another; good fortune which directs or aids in a person using his or her unique talents to help the world; a prayer at mealtimes. 

The Breeze of Divine Grace

There have been many times in my life when I have had bearers of grace come to the rescue.  There was the college advisor who believed in me and my dreams even when I didn’t and encouraged me and sat with me while I filled out all those seminary applications.  There were all the warm and loving friends who visited after each child was born, bringing meals and hugs, listening ears and open hearts. My mother’s favorite story is when she arrived home from the hospital with my sister to find out that her aunt had stopped by while she was in the hospital to fill the refrigerator and clean the bathroom.

Grace is all those gifts of love that we can’t earn and often don’t deserve.  When we are actively compassionate with one another, and with ourselves, we are bearers of grace.  We don’t know when we will be grace’s tool in the life of another. A call to a grieving friend, a hot meal to new parents and an offer to hold the baby while they nap or shower, any act that we can do to make the way a little easier, a litter gentler for another, this is grace.  We can never know what effect we will have on the life of another, never know when we will utter the words they need to hear, never know when our hug our smile will be a soothing salve for a hurting soul.

Parenting is an exercise in grace.  We provide guidance, comfort and love to a soul who has been entrusted to us for a little while. The next time you are wiping a sick brow, waking up in the middle of the night for the 5th time, teaching that shoe tying lesson again, know that you are the bearer of a beautiful force…you are a teacher, a guide, a loving presence acting with grace.

Be a Force for Grace

Experiment being a bearer of grace with acts of kindness:

*feed the birds or wildlife

*leave treats for a neighbor or a friend to find

*pay for the next person in line at a coffee shop

*give a compliment to everyone in your family

*plan a kind gesture for your teachers

*visit an animal sanctuary and learn about the lives of animals

*donate your old towels or blankets to an animal shelter

Dinner Table Discussion

Say Grace Before Meals. The acknowledgement of our numerous blessings is a timeless tradition.  Make a habit of noting your good fortune and the grace in your life.  Take some time to think of all the gifts that came your way throughout that day and share what you are grateful for with one another.

Share a Story. Talk with your loved ones about a time in your life when you had a difficult choice to make: choosing a vocation, deciding how to develop your skills in some area, maybe moving or deciding whether to do the hard work of rebuilding a friendship.  Did something unexpected happen that helped you decide? Was there a person who came into your life who made a difference?

Celebrate the Coming of Spring. Some cultures around the world celebrate the Spring Equinox as the beginning of the New Year.  If this was the beginning of a new year, what goal would you make? What would you want to accomplish?  Who could help you?  What could you do to be a force for grace – random acts of kindness, a family service project, share your gifts and talents with others.

Family Spiritual Practice

Loving Kindness Meditation is a 2,500 year old practice which intentionally cultivates Grace by expressing unconditional love for oneself and for a larger community.  The practice gradually shifts the mind from judging others to mentally bestowing thoughts of Grace. It is done in five rounds: first, for yourself, the second, for someone easy for you to love, third for someone who is neutral to you (cashier, stranger walking the dog, someone you saw on the bus), fourth is for someone you have difficulty with and finally you bestow your loving wishes on all beings and all life on this planet.  Here is one set of phrases you could try:

May I (he/she/they) be safe and protected from all harm.

May I (he/she/they) be happy and contented.

May I (he/she/they) be healthy and whole.

May I (he/she/they) live with ease and wellbeing.

Repeat each round as long as you would like and allow the good intentions to sink deeply into your body, mind, and heart.

Movies for Grace

Pay It Forward: A boy creates a pyramid scheme to solicit grace for others.

Secret Life of Bees: Set in the rural south during the Civil Rights Era, three African-American sisters provide shelter, wisdom, and love to a young white girl when she needs it most.

The Whale Rider: A girl must overcome prejudices and find the gifts and wisdom within herself to achieve her destiny.



Join us for Easter Services at 9 am and 11 am

Sunday, April 20 • 9 a.m. Atrium Auditorium

“Easter Family Service”

with Rev. Kelly J. Crocker & Sara Goodman

Join us as we come together in story and song to celebrate spring, life and this beautiful planet Earth. This Easter and Earth Day celebration will be rejoicing in rebirth – of spring, of new life, and of the rebirth of hope and joy in each and every one of us.

Music will be provided by

the Cherub and Choristers Choirs, directed by Heather Thorpe.

Sunday, April 20 • 9 & 11 a.m. Landmark Auditorium

“Heaven or Earth?” by Michael Schuler, Senior Minister

This weekend marks a rare conjunction of Easter and Earth Day, and with it an opportunity to reflect upon Jesus as an earth-centered teacher and prophet. Many conservative Christians regard environmentalism as a species of idolatry. Did Jesus?

The Quinthorne Brass Quintet

will play the musical offerings.

UU Wine Country Holiday in Napa

The UU’s of Napa, California proudly announce the ninth season of our Wine Country Excursions. Again, we offer several options for an inside look at one of America’s most beautiful areas, internationally known for fine wines, gourmet dining and spectacular vistas.

There is much to see and do in the Napa and Sonoma valleys, e.g. wine tasting at renowned and boutique wineries; visits to art galleries and museums; exploring the natural beauty of our hills and valleys on miles of hiking and bike trails or by car on our highways and back country roads. Napa is an hour from San Francisco by car or ferry.

We offer two choices:  Both start with comfortable lodging in members’ homes with full breakfast (up to 3 nights).  You can choose a 2-day “Wine Country Excursion,” (a guided, personalized tour conducted by one of our members–some with wine industry experience) or lodging and self-guided touring. If desired, we provide guidance, maps, etc.   UU ministers will be personally guided by our minister, Rev. Bonnie Dlott.

The program runs from April through October.  Our fees are well below market rate for comparable services and all proceeds go to our small fellowship.  For complete details contact:  Iris Barrie at 707.363.7552 or

We look forward to sharing our lovely “home” with you!

“You generously share your beautiful community, your welcoming homes, your expertise and, especially, your warmth.  We will remember this trip always.”

                                    Ann McCracken, Cincinnati, OH.



News from the Red Floors April 18 to 25


Rev. Schuler Greetings on this Easter weekend!  Although our regular  Saturday services are cancelled (Friday Vespers took precedence), we will again offer three opportunities for worship on Sunday morning.

If you are planning to attend with younger children, the Atrium Auditorium is where you’ll want to be at 9:00.  Kelly Crocker,  Sara Goodman and our children’s choirs have planned a delightful family service for your pleasure and edification.   Then, at both 9 and 11:00 services for a more mature audience will be held in the historic Landmark Auditorium.   Stirring music by a brass ensemble will complement a message that marries Easter to Earth Day and pays homage not only to Jesus, but to one of Wisconsin’s most prescient modern prophets.  Curious?   I guarantee we’ll give you something to talk about over Easter brunch.

Oh…and remember to order tickets for next Friday’s gala “Spring Fling” fun and fund raiser in the Atrium Addition


Spring Fling is coming up in a week – Friday, April 25th, 6:30-10 PM!
Tickets are $25 per person if purchased before Wednesday April 23rd and will be $30 at the door.  Do not miss this magical night at FUS!   Great food, good music, silent and live auctions and more!
Auction items must be submitted by Sunday, April 20th to be included in the catalogue.

Interested in helping?  Lots of volunteers opportunities are still open. Stop by the Spring Fling table for more information or go to/Spring-Fling!

NO CRE Classes this Sunday  Parents, please note that there are no Children’s Religious Education classes this Sunday because of the Easter holiday.

Easter Egg Hunt  Don’t miss this year’s Easter Egg Hunt for children pre-K – 5th grade. The egg hunt will start right after the Family Easter Service, which should end around 10 a.m. Kids start out in Courtyard Classrooms A and B, hunt our grounds for Easter eggs, and then trade in their eggs for a goodie bag. Children can bring their own basket or borrow one of ours. Please be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. We’ll be HOP-py to see you there!

Together/Apart: Talking Across the Social Divide

One of the most difficult things to talk about in America is race.  All manner of things get in our way, yet to become the community we aspire to be – to take on education, housing, crime and our larger economic challenges – we have to talk about what keeps us divided. For more than 20 years, award-winning journalist Keith Woods, National Public Radio’s vice president for diversity, has helped community leaders, journalists, college professors and students to meet this tough conversation straight on and to find a better way to talk across difference. He’ll be joined by a distinguished eight-person panel to talk about the social divide in the Madison area at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, at First Unitarian Society.  Woods’ Madison visit will include working with local journalists and is sponsored by The Capital Times and Wisconsin Public Radio.

Our next Noon Musicale is on Friday,  April 25, at 12:15 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium. The Musicale will feature Kassia & Friends.

Kassia is the soprano duo of Susan Savage Day and Rebekah Demaree.Joining them will be pianist Sharon Jensen, violinist Carol Carlson,trumpeter David Cooper and bassoonist Thomas Taylor Dickey.

Register for 2014-15 Children’s Religious Education

Registration for next Fall’s Children’s Religious Education classes is now open. You can register at /cre-registration or pick up a form at the R.E. Table in the Commons. Register soon! It will save you money and is very helpful in planning next year.  As always, we need plenty of teachers. Please consider volunteering to teach. Questions? Leslie Ross, at /DRE.

Shawl Ministry Drop-in  Evening drop-ins resume this month. Evening drop-ins are the third Monday of the months of April-October.  Join us in the Atrium Library on Monday, April 21.  Our gatherings are relaxed and informal, and newcomers are always welcome.  Questions? contact us at /shawl.

Spiritual Topics Book Group  The next meeting of the Spiritual Topics Book Group will be on Tuesday, April 22, at 7 p.m. in the Gaebler Living Room. The group will discuss John Allen Jr.’s book: Opus Dei. For more information contact Ken Gage at 230-5068.

Annual Campaign  We base both our future budget and current spending on pledge coming in, and payments on those pledges.  As of Mid-April, about 22% of pledged contributions still need to come in for our current fiscal year.  We are also waiting for about 40% of pledges to be made by members for the 2014-15 year.  To learn more about our system, visit

Connecting with Youth in a Meaningful Way  The Children’s Religious Education program is currently recruiting teachers for next Fall’s school year. Two of our classes-Mind, Body and Soul for 8th graders and Coming of Age for 9th graders-provide opportunities to connect with our youth in ways that are meaningful to their spiritual, physical, and emotional development. Teaching these classes is a privilege that has enriched many lives among us. Would you be interested in signing on to teach one of these classes? If so, please contact Leslie Ross, /DRE, to learn more details.

Spring Clean Up Day!  FUS Spring Clean-up day is on Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to noon. Come with gloves and a willing spirit. Meet on the grounds between the Atrium and the Landmark.

Advance Care Planning Session  The End-of-Life Ministry Team is hosting an advance care planning presentation for members of our congregation coordinated by ‘Honoring Choices Wisconsin.’ Rev. Ralph Tyksinski and Jim Jaeger will speak on “Advance Care Planning: What It is, Why It’s Important and Completing an Advance Care Directive.”The presentation will be Sunday, April 27, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Gaebler Living Room. More information? Nancy at or Jim at To register, sign up in the Commons or contact Kelly at or 233-9774 ext 112.

Honor Earth Day at FUS on Sunday, April 27  Meet the representatives from the FUS Water Sentinels and other environmental groups in the Commons after both services. Outside, meet the FUS Gardening Group and get a free bike check-up from Budget Bicycle.

Interested in Becoming an FUS Member? Our April Membership Book Signing will be held on Sunday, April 27th at 12:30p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium. If you have UU background or have taken the New UU series, we invite you to join us. Please RSVP before April 23rd to our Coord. of Member Programs, Jeanne Sears ( or 233-9774 Ext. 116).  You will be mailed information to complete before the book signing. If you have any questions about membership, let’s talk!

20s & 30s Group Sunday Brunch April 27  Meet immediately after the 9 a.m. service, upstairs by the name tags, or at The Great Dane, downtown at 10:45 a.m. RSVP to Elizabeth Bohuski,

Peace & Justice Book Club  Next book club meeting: April 28 at 7 p.m. Courtyard B. Book: Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin.  There will be no May meeting as the 4th Monday is Memorial Day.  June 23 book:  The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, by Jean Theoharis.

FUS Gardeners  Join the FUS Gardeners and enjoy the fun of meeting new people, making new friends and keeping the FUS grounds beautiful. We work every Thursday beginning May 1 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. There is always something to do, from pulling weeds to pruning shrubs. Someone is always there to help you to determine if it is a weed or an orchid. We need experts too. Please e-mail your name to Nancy R.

Seeking housing possibilities for our 2014-15 ministerial intern  We will have a new intern joining us in August. We will more formally introduce Sasha Ostrum in the summer, but for now we are helping her find leads to an apartment and job possibilities for her partner.  They are looking for a 1-2 bedroom cat-friendly apartment for under $900/month, beginning in June or July. Sasha’s partner will be looking for clerical work. Contact Lorna Aaronson with any leads:

Addressing Income Inequality  How did this happen? How bad is it? What are the options to fix it?  Join us for a forum on Thursday, May 8th from 7 pm to 9:15 pm in the Gaebler Living Room.  Join Dr. Robert Haveman, Progressive Representative Chris Taylor and Conservative Economist Larry Kaufmann for three diverse viewpoints. Email Merrilee Pickett at to save a spot.

Annual Peace Pole Planting event May 10 and 11th is Mother’s Day weekend and before Hallmark came along it was originally conceived of as a peace holiday after the civil war. They will be planted along University Bay Drive prior to the Saturday afternoon service. Children and their families are invited to sign up and adopt one to be decorated between and after the services. Please sign up in the Commons area by the Social Justice table, call Roz Woodward at 251-1074 or email at so she knows how many to have available.

Calling all High School Seniors! Our Youth Service on Sunday, May 11, at 11 a.m. will include a Bridging Ceremony. Bridging is a Unitarian Universalist Rite of Passage in which we honor our high school seniors, thank them for their contributions to our community in their time here, and give them our blessing for their continued journey, wherever it may lead them.  If you would like to participate please RSVP to Rev. Kelly by May 1 at /ministerRE or 233-9774, ext. 112.
Contemplative Practices Around Death and Dying On Tuesday evenings, May 13, 20, 27 and June 3, Steven Spiro, an ordained Buddhist Chaplain, and Karen Reppen, a hospice volunteer and teacher about death and dying, are returning to present another session of their experiential program, Contemplative Practices around Death and Dying. This programs offers a safe, gentle, and supportive opportunity to explore and discover aspects of death and dying. The class will meet in the Hearthroom and explore the letting go process through guided meditations, Qigong, breath practices, experiential exercises, writing, discussion, and readings.  The fee is $30 pledged/$40 non-pledged. Register at /ae-classes or send a check to FUS c/o RE Program Coordinator.


Adult Education is Accepting Course Proposals

Do you have an idea for a course you would like to offer fellow FUS members? Do you have a passion that you want to share with others? Adult Education is currently accepting course proposals for our fall semester (September – December 2014). If you have an idea, please contact Janet Swanson at or 233-9774, ext. 131. Proposals are due by May 15.

Baseball Game! FUS has three visions of ministry, which includes building deeper connections within our community and between our members. In this spirit, please join over 100 FUS members at a Mallards baseball game on Thursday, June 5. Your $10 game ticket includes food and a Mallards hat. Tailgate starts a 4 p.m., with first pitch at 7 p.m. RSVP to


Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser-That’s Amore!

We interrupt our regular FUS potluck to bring you…  Standing on the side of love, Italian style! The Saturday Compass Points class invites you to a fabulous Italian dinner to raise funds for homeless youth in Dane County.  Join us on May 10th at 6pm for a delicious meal of RP’s famous pasta, meat-full and meat-less meatballs, salad, bread, and punch all served by the conscientious and capable Compass Points waitstaff.  All proceeds will be given to Make Room for Youth (MRFY).Join us as we eat, drink and raise funds to show the kids of Dane County that we stand on the side of love.

Happy Easter!


Easter Weekend Services at FUS

“A Meditative Hour” Good Friday Vespers

April 18 • 5 p.m. Landmark Auditorium with Sara Goodman, Ministerial Intern

During this meditative hour we’ll mull over the mystery of the Christian story.

Linda Warren and Dan Broner will play music for organ and piano.

No service on Saturday, April 19

Sunday, April 20 • 9 a.m. Atrium Auditorium

“Easter Family Service”

with Rev. Kelly J. Crocker & Sara Goodman

Join us as we come together in story and song to celebrate spring, life and this beautiful planet Earth. This Easter and Earth Day celebration will be rejoicing in rebirth – of spring, of new life, and of the rebirth of hope and joy in each and every one of us.

Music will be provided by

the Cherub and Choristers Choirs, directed by Heather Thorpe.


Sunday, April 20 • 9 & 11 a.m. Landmark Auditorium

“Heaven or Earth?” by Michael Schuler, Senior Minister

This weekend marks a rare conjunction of Easter and Earth Day, and with it an opportunity to reflect upon Jesus as an earth-centered teacher and prophet. Many conservative Christians regard environmentalism as a species of idolatry. Did Jesus?

The Quinthorne Brass Quintet

will play the musical offerings.

The FUS Commitment Ceremony: A Service of Union

It is our hope that one day all true love partnerships will be fully affirmed in Wisconsin, and we are working and fighting to make that a reality. Unfortunately, our state does not yet grant legal recognition to gay and lesbian couples.

At FUS, we currently offer a Service of Spiritual Union – a commitment ceremony similar to a wedding, but without legal sanction.  This can look just like a conventional celebration, with formal wedding apparel, flowers, attendants and hundreds of guests gathering in one of our two beautiful sanctuaries.  Or, it can be the most avant-garde event imaginable – perhaps a private ritual to bless your relationship, an intimate exchange of vows, or a big outdoor party to celebrate your love.

Until such time as all couples in Wisconsin have equal access to the rights and benefits provided by legal marriage, it is our joy to help you acknowledge and celebrate your commitment to one another with a Service of Spiritual Union.

We have simple ceremonies already available, but our specialty is working with couples to develop a celebration tailored to their needs. You and your partner will be able to choose ceremony material about love and commitment that fit you best, and select or compose words that best reflect of your feelings about each other.

A Commitment Ceremony is for Anyone

You may be a couple who would like to honor your relationship, but would lose pension benefits or health insurance if you did enter into a legal marriage.  You may want to celebrate an anniversary, or renew wedding vows.  Perhaps you entered into a marriage or civil union overseas or in another state, and want a local and public ceremony in Madison.

Whatever the reason, a Service of Spiritual Union can meet your specific needs. We are here to help you express your love and commitment to one another in a place that has a long history of support.

Your own spiritual sensibilities and cultural background will be honored. Your ceremony can express interfaith religious values, or be more humanistic and secular in nature.  We will help you design a ceremony that reflects your deepest convictions. As soon you are ready to take your relationship to a deeper level and make a solemn commitment to each other, call us and we will help you make your dreams come true.

It’s no wonder why so many people –- including heterosexual and same-sex couples — have chosen the FUS Meeting House as the place to celebrate beginning their lives together. To learn more, check out our Wedding FAQs page. 

Call or email Mark Renner today to find out about availability and special pricing options. 608/233-9774 x 118



Madison Bach Musicians 10th anniversary Event – Saturday @ 7:30 in FUS

A rare opportunity — and life celebration — for Bach fans—-and-life-celebration-/article_24d539e6-59cc-5137-9631-5d7624c3b9fc.html

Musicians are flying to Madison from around the country this week, all in the name of performing one of the great works of Western art.

It’s J.S. Bach’s monumental Mass in B minor, to be performed…on Saturday in the Atrium Auditorium at First Unitarian Society. (7:30 pm)

The exquisite mass, performed by four soloists, a chorus of 17 and 24 musicians on period instruments, is presented by Madison Bach Musicians as part as the group’s 10th anniversary season.

“It’s a lot of people’s desert island piece,” said Madison Bach Musicians director Trevor Stephenson, who will play organ for the piece and give a pre-concert lecture.

“You could easily win the argument that it’s the greatest thing every written in the West. It is just an amazing piece of music. It’s a celebration and summation of life — I guess that’s one reason we wanted to do it in our 10th year.”

Preparations for the performance have taken a year, he said.

“To hear a period instrument performance of this is a very rare thing,” Stephenson said. “The parts are exceedingly difficult, (and some) can only be played by specialists of which there are few in the United States — like the baroque oboes. They take just super-virtuosos and people who have trained in that instrument for years.”

Unlike the modern oboe, its baroque counterpart is all wood, with no key system. Skilled period musicians also must take on parts for the ensemble’s baroque flute, bassoon, natural horn, valveless 18th-century trumpets and 18th-century stringed instruments featuring gut rather than modern metal strings.

About half the string players for the mass are from the Madison area. Other musicians are coming from as far away as San Francisco, with their flights and professional salaries paid by donors, grants and ticket sales, Stephenson said.

“And then there’s the thing of finding the singers — because for this type of music you have to have voices that can fill a large space, but are not necessarily operatic voices,” he said.

Soloists Chelsea Morris, Sarah Leuwerke, Geoffrey Agpalo and Timothy Takach were selected over a nine-month period. The year-old Madison Choral Project, led by artistic director Albert Pinsonneault, will serve as the chorus, which must stand and sing throughout the nearly two-hour performance.

Bach spent 18 years crafting and re-working the Mass in B minor, which he completed in 1749, the year before his death.

“This is a piece which challenges the singers in mind, body and spirit,” Pinsonneault wrote in notes for the performance.

“The sheer mathematics of negotiating the music is very difficult to learn and put together, especially with just a few singers on a part,” he said. “Yet, the obvious genius of the composition makes it worth a hundredfold.”

The Madison Bach Musicians performed Bach’s Mass in B minor in 2008. The masterwork will be performed by the group again April 18 and 19.

If you go:

  • What: Mass in B minor, by J.S. Bach, conducted by Marc Vallon. Presented by Madison Bach Musicians in collaboration with Madison Choral Project.
  • Where: Saturday, April 19: At First Unitarian Society, Atrium Auditorium, 900 University Bay Drive.
  • When: 6:45 p.m. lecture by MBM director Trevor Stephenson. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.
  • Tickets at the door: $25; $20 for students/seniors over 65. Cash or checks only.
  • Advance tickets: $20; $15 students/seniors. Available at Orange Tree Imports, 1721 Monroe St.; Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road; A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham St.; Ward Brodt Music Hall, 2200 W. Beltline Highway (Todd Drive exit); and Willy Street Co-op, 1221 Williamson St. and 6825 University Ave.


Annual FUS Passover Seder 4/18 @ 6:30

Our annual FUS Passover Seder will be held on Friday, April 18
at 6:30 p.m.

This UU adaptation of a traditional Jewish Seder is family-friendly
and provides an opportunity to experience a key aspect of Jewish faith and

The main dish, soup and beverages are provided for a reasonable fee
and participants bring side-dishes using kosher recipes we provide.  You may
sign-up in the Commons before or after services, or make reservations with
Michael Schuler at:  

Making Vegan Sausage

The process for voting in our FUS Budget

By Andy Gussert, your friendly FUS COO

Otto von Bismarck first said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” After working in two state legislatures and the US Senate, budgets are even worse.

Luckily, here at FUS, budgeting is a pretty simple process.  We check finances in December, hold a mid-year January forum, adjust spending in February, assemble pledge materials, and ask you to invest in the Society.  If our average pledge and revenue projections trend up, we build in a little extra. If there are reasons to be concerned, we cut back.  During this process, we keep an informal list of hard cuts and aspirational items, in case we have dramatic changes in revenue.

Taking cues from the ministers, Kelly Crocker and Michael Schuler, we ask our staff to draft up individual budgets. These include key areas including music, social justice, children’s education, member connections, teen programming, adult RE, and Quest.  We also draw up mini-budgets for internal and external communications, facilities, fundraising and administration. These plans reflect our FUS vision of ministry, such as fostering member connections, bringing values to the greater community, and building intergenerational connections. (Case in point: Bring your kids to the upcoming Mallards Game with 100 other members on Thursday, June 5th.)

In March, we look at revenue and spending two-thirds the way through the fiscal year, and make adjustments. In especially volatile spending areas like plowing and utilities, we use rolling three year averages. Most allocations are based on what we spent last year — and if we want to add something new, we cut from another area.

These many ‘micro-budgets’ are compiled on a spreadsheet, and each major cell is given an account number to track during the upcoming fiscal year.  The COO then sends the budget to the senior minister and finance committee in early April. They ask tough questions, and troubleshoot potential problems.  They give feedback to the board, who tweak numbers and discusses potential changes in an April meeting. The draft budget is shared with members, who weigh in at our May finance forum.  The board listens to feedback, works with the COO to make changes, and a final proposed budget goes before the Society.  We vote to approve it or amend it at the June Parish meeting.

This coming year is a little different: We are finally moving our entire mortgage payment – formerly $1000 each day – out of our capital budget and into our operating budget.  Where we didn’t even have an operations line item in 2008, this debt repayment will consume almost one-fifth of our operating budget. That amount eats up a lot of potential program budget, and in the future, we may want to think of ways to free ourselves from this debt.

Compared with controversy, commotion and conflict coming from cuts across corporate America and the capitol dome, our budgeting is pretty bland, a lot like vegan sausage.  The ingrediants are basic, the recipe is simple, there’s no pork, and the end result is a healthy product.

At this point, with only 240 pledges on March 24th, our only missing ingredient is revenue projections for the upcoming year.

Andy Gussert worked on state budgets with five different legislative leaders, and is perpetually humbled by the generosity of our FUS affiliates, friends and members during our annual campaign. Please make your pledge at if you haven’t already.