July 2020 Communicator
Volume 37 Issue 7
Inspired by love, we transform ourselves and serve others.
Sunday, July 12th

Please join us on Zoom this Sunday, July 12th at 10:30 AM. Our reflection this week is titled On Othering & Belonging. We will also feature e xcerpts from a presentation by Rev. Deborah Johnson. The service this week is brought to you by:

Suellen Kipp , Director of Music             
Jenn Blosser , Director of Religious Education
Gary Robbins , Worship Associate
Helen Leddy , Worship Associate 
Peter Golbitz , Musician

Tech Team-
Lesley Peterson
Mark Brandon
Walter Peterson
Holley Rauen
Jenn Blosser
Krista Hopper
Alison Carville
Jill Carville

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 891 5048 2747
Password: chalice

or, follow the link on our webpage for audio only uucfm.org

If you would like to make a pledge or donation to UUCFM at any time,  you may mail a check to UUCFM, 13411 Shire Lane, Fort Myers, FL 33912 or visit our  PayPal  . Search for Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, then type in your donation and in the notes section, please add either  for UUCFM  or  Community Sharing,  or how much to split between both.
July's Community Sharing Partner
The Pachamama Alliance of SW Florida formed in October 2016 after a group of local leaders took the Game Changer Intensive together.
Our Three-fold Mission:

  • Collaborate with and support existing Game Changing movements and the establishment of organizations to inspire, educate, and engage..

  • Originate programs, develop and disseminate communications, and facilitate training designed to enlighten, energize, and empower pro-activists, giving them the Pachamama Alliance tools and resources needed for transformation to a thriving, just, sustainable human presence on this planet.

  • Integrate indegenous wisdom and promote the participation of indigenous peoples. 

Before COVID, we met monthly for Game Changer Gatherings at the church. These gatherings featured well-known and respected community leaders. Our regular newsletter reaches over 350 Pachamama people who have participated in our programs.
This last year, we partnered with many organizations by tabling, offering workshops and inviting Climate Change Ambassadors to speak at many events. 
Coming Soon!
The UUCFM Tech Team is planning a Virtual Coffee Hour on Sundays after the service. Look for this soon! Just stay on the Zoom session and we will open up the mics and have our chat when the service ends. Unfortunately, you'll have to make your own coffee...
UUCFM Classes & Groups
Caloosahatchee Mindfulness
The Caloosahatchee Mindfulness & UUCFM Book Study Group has resumed and is meeting on Zoom every Wednesday at 10:00 AM. We are reading  The Wise Heart  by Jack Kornfield. Please join us.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 849 5260 9369
Password: My1heart
The UUCFM Book Club  
The UUCFM Book Club now meets online. Our current book is the highly recommended White Fragility (Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism) by Robin Diangelo . If you can find a hard copy, great. Amazon is sold out but they have the Kindle book. Read through chapter one. We will next meet on zoom Wednesday at 1:00 PM. For those who will be joining us for the first time, please email Mary Studer at 
mstuder929@gmail.com   and she will send you the link to Zoom.
New Special Book Group
Waking Up White by Debby Irving is "engaging, challenging, and action-oriented” (Moore, Eddie Jr.). The author tells a personal story about racial tensions in her personal and work relationships. In 2009, after wondering why her diversity efforts were unsuccessful, she begins her own discovery adventure that changed her life. 

Join Albie Johnson and Helen Leddy on your own discovery journey with Debby Irving’s book. It may change your life, too.
This new weekly book group will begin on Thursday, July 9, 2020, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. It will take place online using Zoom. For more information and to sign up, please contact either Helen helen.leddy@gmail.com or Albie albiestalk@gmail.com .  
Seeking Congregation Approval for Capital Loan
by Finance Council and Operations Council

In late July, the Board of Trustees will be asking members to authorize taking on a long-term capital improvements loan of $100,000 from the Endowment Fund. This is one of two articles to the congregation from the Finance and Operations Councils explaining our need for the improvements and the nature of the financial commitment.  


Our $2+ million campus needs to be maintained each year from our operating budget and then for large improvements every decade or so from a capital reserves budget. Aside from the reserves afforded us from the erection of the cell tower and the sale of the lease for the tower, we have not been able as a congregation to set aside monies for capital reserves. Although we try to forestall any capital improvements through aggressive maintenance, we eventually must replace big (capital) items.

When such needs present themselves, we are faced with either conducting a Capital Campaign, as we did for the new roofs 6 years ago ($200,000), or borrowing the funds, paying off the improvements from operating revenues over time. Because we have completely paid off our mortgage this past fiscal year and do not have that payment going forward, the Board of Trustees, with a recommendation by the Operations and the Finance Councils, has applied to the Endowment Fund Committee for a $100,000, 20-year loan to cover four important capital improvements.

(Borrowing from our Endowment Fund is a preferred form of indebtedness as we are paying interest to ourselves and future congregations, not a financial institution.)

Application of Funds

The Endowment Fund loan, if approved, would fund these four urgent capital improvement projects:

Repairing our septic system. Over the past few years, we’ve been experiencing several malfunctions of our septic system—it’s the original for the campus. Through aging components and intrusion of tree roots, it is likely to fail at any time. This needs to be repaired before our waste disposal system becomes inoperable. We estimate this project to cost $25,000. Bids are being solicited. Completion is planned for September/October.

Replacing the air conditioning units for Hobart Hall. The 4 units currently in use for the social hall are inefficient and on their last legs; they were the original units installed in 1995. Through his supervision and maintenance, our Building Supervisor, Mickey, has lengthened the life of these units by rotating their use in pairs—two on for a while, then the other two. We plan to replace the four old units with two larger, more efficient units. We estimate this project to cost $25,000. Bids are being solicited. Completion is planned for August/September. (Note this is part of a long-term Operations Council plan for replacing our failing A/C equipment. The Sanctuary A/C was replaced 2 years ago, the Admin Bldg. this past year, and Rooms 6 & 7 this past spring. These were completed without a Capital Campaign.)

Weatherizing, painting campus buildings. Although we have been able to provide some level of paint touch-ups by volunteers and sealing and caulking maintenance by Mickey for our 5 buildings over the years, the exterior weather envelopes of our buildings have been compromised through the wear and tear of the Florida climate. We have incurred some drywall damage in the Sanctuary from flashing leaks, especially from big storm winds and rains. A walk around each building shows large mildew growth and stucco erosion. Waiting any longer will result in major interior damages. Bids received indicate this project will cost about $32,500. Completion is planned for August/September.

Hobart Hall flooring replacement. The original carpeting in Hobart Hall has lasted well beyond its accounting life. Mickey has worked diligently to keep it stain-free and clean. It has become permanently stained and stretched in certain areas and represents a COVID-19 risk for our members going forward. Our new campus sharing partner, Gulf Coast Symphony, plans to use Hobart Hall for their rehearsals. They request a smooth-surfaced flooring. Bids received indicate this project will cost us about $17,500. Completion is planned for August/September.    

The Board of Trustees has made a commitment to remain on our campus for the foreseeable future as nearly all members have asked. Making these capital improvements will help to insure a safe and effective operation for ours and future congregations for years to come.

Next Steps

As provided by our bylaws, committing to this long-term Endowment Loan requires congregational approval. A congregational vote is planned for the end of July, both by email and by postal service. Here are the plans toward seeking your approval, pending agreement by the Endowment Fund Committee.

There will be two articles in the E-News on the justification and the details of the loan agreement with the Endowment Fund Committee. This is the first article. The second article will provide further details about the loan parameters and Zoom links for forums.

Three Congregation Zoom Forums are planned for July 15 @ 2:00p, July 16 @ 6:30p, and July 18 @ 4:00p presented by the Finance and Operations Councils. See schedule below.

E-Mailings to members with electronic access and postal mailings to those without electronic access to take place around July 21 with return ballots no later than July 31.

Please feel free to contact Pati Maier, Treasurer, at maierp184@gmail.com , or Dorothy Van Howe, VP-Operations, at dorothyvanhowe@gmail.com , for any questions or suggestions.  

To adequately inform our members prior to their voting, we are scheduling three Congregation Zoom Forums focusing on the Capital Loan details, related projects, and the voting process. Here are the Forum meeting dates, times, and Zoom links:
Wednesday, July 15 @ 2:00p
Password: 676905
Thursday, July 16 @ 6:30p
Password: 676905
Saturday, July 18 @ 4:00p
Password: 676905

Finance Council
Operations Council
From Our Caring Network
If you or another member of the Congregation needs some extra attention during this time, your Pastoral Care Committee is here to help as much as we can while keeping us all safe and protected.
Our Committee members include Mary Faegre, Joan Hickok, Deborah Lewis, Mary Alice Pierce, Mary Tracy-Sigman, Patricia Vivier-Naidl, Holley Rauen and Suzanne Ziemer. If any members of the Congregation are available to help during this crisis, please contact Mary Golbitz.
We have been holding weekly calls as a check in at the beginning of this crisis. Since the need for these calls seems to have dwindled, we will  not  be holding these calls any longer. If you feel strongly that you would like these calls to continue please contact Mary Golbitz. Thanks to all who participated and supported one another.

We can connect with you individually by phone if you are feeling isolated and offer other assistance. Please contact Mary Golbitz for information or assistance at  marygcline@gmail.com  207 479-4082 (phone or text) or Holley Rauen at  holleyrauen@gmail.com  or 239 464-6556.
Social Justice
South Fort Myers Food Pantry Coalition

The Board and volunteers at the Food Pantry say thank you for the food that some of you have dropped off during these very difficult weeks. Thanks to all of you that have been able to do this. For those of you who might just be getting out now that some restrictions have been lifted, please consider dropping off some food at the pantry.

The best times are 9 AM or 4 PM on Monday at the pantry itself, located at 8260 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers in the back of the Cypress Lake Presbyterian Church. Any size donation will be accepted. Most needed foods are peanut butter & jelly, cereal, breakfast bars, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and tomato sauce, protein rich soups and beans. Please, no glass containers. Here is the latest newsletter from the Pantry:

1st Quarter 2020

We served 1939 individual clients
Totaling 6080 family members fed

We distributed approximately 141,939 pounds of food

2nd Quarter 2020

We served 2053 individual clients
Totaling 7860 family members fed

We distributed approximately 125,959 pounds of food

(This represents the food received from Harry Chapin Food Bank as well as any food that we purchase from local retailers.  
This does not include products from food drives or weekly baked goods donated from Publix at Gladiolus Gateway & the Bagel Factory)

We would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on how the pantry has been functioning during the COVID pandemic:
Since the later part of March instead of having clients shop inside the pantry we have been serving them in their cars. For the foreseeable future, in order to protect our clients and our volunteers, we will continue to serve on a drive-through basis. We believe that our clients are being well cared for. Although clients don’t have the ability to shop for themselves we have tried to be sure that we provide them with a diverse supply of food. Early-on we were unable to get our usual supply from the Harry Chapin Food Bank due to the extreme shortage and greater demand on suppliers across the country. This shortage has eased a bit. We do continue to shop at local suppliers to supplement our food bank order and so that we may provide a wider variety of items.
The financial support that we have received has been overwhelming.
Many of our members and partners have held food drives and we are so appreciative!
We can’t begin to thank each and every one of you for your kindness and generosity to the food pantry. You make our job so easy and it is a pleasure to serve alongside you.
Member to Member
Dear Friends,

I just discovered the Lee Co. Elections Center will not forward your ballot from your Florida address. If you moved or are not in Florida for the August and November elections you will not get your ballot unless you provide them your new or out of state address. Call the office, 239-533-8683, or visit the website,  www.lee.vote  to ensure receiving your Vote-by-Mail ballot. Yours, staying connected here in Wisconsin,

Suzanne Ziemer
Our UU Story
Declaration of Independence
Authors Include Unitarians & Deists
Our Declaration of Independence from July 4, 1776, includes these famous words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . .” But, is it self-evident that it was intended to be a Christian document? Scholars argue that the majority of the Founders were religious rationalists or Unitarians.

Did the founders’ private beliefs differ from the orthodox teachings of their churches? In some cases, yes. Most were baptized, listed on church rolls, married to practicing Christians and attended public worship. But, in 18 th -century America, the Deism school of religious thought complicated the actual beliefs of our founding fathers.

Deists argued that human experience and rationality, rather than religious dogma determine the validity of human beliefs. Deistic thought was very popular in colleges from the middle of the 18 th  into the 19 th  century and influenced many men of the Revolutionary generation. Although orthodox Christianity was an influence, Deism also influenced a majority of the founding fathers. Deists saw nature as the primary means of understanding the world. When they referred to a deity, it was chiefly in terms of “Chief Architect” or “grand designer.”

The founders did not want the government to be an agent of religion. Because of this, they refused to use Christian images. The founding fathers authored the First Amendment, a display of our religious freedoms.  While faith played into the foundation of our nation, Christianity was not at the center. Religious freedom was.

America’s founders, included two Unitarian Universalist ministers: John Adams and Robert Treat Paine. Both were from Massachusetts. Others were influenced by Unitarian thought.

Leading Deists included Benjamin Franklin and Thomas. Franklin identified most closely with the “Deists,” although he worked throughout his life to define his beliefs. He also found much in Unitarians’ rational approach to religion that appealed to him, but he declined to align himself with any denomination. His creed was practical and simple -- he believed in the value of religious teachings that led people to engage in good works.

Jefferson referred to himself at different times as a “theist,” a “deist,” a “rational Christian,” and a “Unitarian.” Jefferson abhorred the rituals and doctrines of most organized religion. He was influenced by the Unitarian theology of Joseph Priestley, which came close to his own theology.

In his old age, Jefferson declared: ”I trust there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.”

Edited by Joy F. Sokeitous
July 4  Helen Leddy 
July 8  Penny Hutchinson is 5!
July 10  Barbara Mannix  
July 14  Bill Petrarca
July 31  Kevin Carr   
Did you know your purchases can help us?  Amazon Smile  donates to UUCFM when you do your online shopping by following this special link to Amazon: 
Want to Become a Member?
If you are interested in becoming a new member, please email   memberservices@uucfm.org.

Director of Religious Education   Jenn Blosser  dre@uucfm.org
Director of Music Suellen Kipp music@uucfm.org
Office Manager  Jill Carville  officemanager@uucfm.org
Building Supervisor   Mickey Kellam  buildingsupervisor@uucfm.org
Nursery Supervisor   Liza Kellam  lhiz_sierra@yahoo.com

Board of Trustees

President  Lesley Peterson
President Elect  Lane Cook
Secretary  Ruth King Fotovat
Treasurer  Pati Maier
VP Ministerial Services  Keith Hamlin
VP Operations  Dorothy Van Howe
VP Programming  Toni Latino
Member at Large  Genelle Grant
Please send all newsletter articles by  Wednesday at noon  for publication in Thursday's newsletter. Send articles to  newsletter@uucfm.org .