The Communicator
April 2017  Volume 34  Issue 4  
Sundays in April
Staff & Board News
From the Board!
The Board would like to congratulate this year's winner of the Gauch Award- Helen Dixon!  The Gauch award is given each year to a member who has given outstanding volunteer service to UUCFM over the years.

At the March meeting of the Board, Helen Dixon (yes, Helen again!) was named Volunteer of the Month with thanks for all her efforts toward making the service auction a great success.  In addition, the Board thanks the following people for their extra efforts:  Mary Douglass and Allie Carville for helping in the office; Bruce Leddy, Bill Petrarca, Melinda Machones,  Gary Robbins, and Jen Smith for serving on the Finance Council; Jim Morgan for refurbishing the bobcat cart and the gift of a trailer; and  Bob and Mary Nies for hosting the new member luncheon.  All their efforts are greatly appreciated.
Congregational Gathering at the 2017 Nehemiah Action held at  Saint Columbkille Catholic Church                             on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.  Photo credit: Walter Peterson

I want to thank all of you who came out for justice this past  Tuesday night at St. Columbkille.  I have not received a final count of our UUCFM attendance, but the overall attendance was near 800, which was our modest goal this year.  This year has been particularly challenging without a Lead Organizer for our LIFE program.  Pastor Glover of Mt. Hermon, Pastor May, and myself, with the help of many others, pitched in so that we could see another successful year of justice making in Lee County.

We received commitments from the City Manager Saleed Kazemi, State Attorney Stephen Russell, and FM Police Chief Derrick Diggs to work on specific "asks" that will address the issue of unsolved murders in our community.  It was a tremendous success, and the officials were met with thunderous applause and standing/sitting ovations.

Part of the LIFE vision is that for 52 weeks a year, you come on a  Sunday, so why not come out once a year for justice?  If you missed out, know that we will have plenty of opportunities for engagement next year.  I would like to thank this year's UUCFM Team Leaders: Theresa Bahre, Bob Nies, Lesley Peterson, and Gary Robbins.  If you are interested in being part of team leadership and building the LIFE justice work in our church and in our community, please talk to me!  Email me at or make an appointment with the church office to come in and chat. 

Rev. Allison
Treasurer's Report - Annual Meeting 2017

We have come a long way in the last few years:

By February of 2015, we had been running deficits for so many years that we had maxed out our $50,000 Line of Credit and had borrowed $279,500 since 2002 from our Endowment fund in order to survive.  In addition, in 2014, we had to get a new roof and fire protection system.  But we not only survived, we have thrived!

What have we accomplished this year?

  • Balanced the 2016-2017 budget!

  • Collected 99% of outstanding pledges on the Roof Capital Campaign

  • We have a 13% growth over last year in our Community Sharing collections, over a 400% increase since we started giving away 100%

  • Paid $34,000 down on our debt and refinanced the remaining mortgage for the Sanctuary Construction with our Endowment Fund which keeps interest payments in-house

  • Made the first payment of $18,000 payment on our outstanding $50,000 member loan. (Due in full in 2018)

  • Reserved the entire $18,000 income from the Cell Tower Rental.

  • Completed the second phase of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Project.

  • Replaced the wooden walkway to the Amphitheater with stone

  • Purchased a carpet cleaner and extractor to save on maintenance costs

We used Reserves for:

  1. Purchasing a heavy-duty utility cart

  2. Completing the first two phases of Support Beam Replacement for the walkways around Hobart

  3. Next year we will be depleting our reserves to replace the 20-year old AC Units in the Sanctuary.

We received Grants from our Endowment Fund for:

  1. Renovations of Rooms 6 & 7 and the Sanctuary AV Upgrades $14,405

  2. Corner Gardens for the Bill Brewer Family Gardens $5,000

  3. Shared cost for BUUFest, Music Director and RE Coordinator Annual Conferences $2,224

  4. Beloved Conversations on Race Materials and Retreat $2,200

  5. Forgiveness of $5,700 of $20,700 Family Garden Loan

  6. And we submitted receipts and received payments for open grants from 2011 to 2015.

We have currently have 2 Open Grants from Endowment:

  1. 2016 Grant of $900 towards Beloved Conversations workshops and

  2. 2015 Grant of $2,000 for the 2017 and 2018 Wildlife Rehabilitation Project Phases

Total Outstanding Debt at the end of this Fiscal Year ($34,000 paid in 16-17)

  1. $54,500 owed to Endowment Fund for Sanctuary Construction

  2. $15,000 Interest Free Note to Endowment for Family Gardens

  3. $32,000 Interest Free Member Note for Roof Installation

What can we improve?

  1. Membership with Engagement: ensuring that every Member has a stake in sustaining our generous congregation

  2. Reserve fund shortfall of $50,000-$80,000

  3. 2017-2018 Budget shortfall of $40,000 which required some cuts

  4. Pledge payment percentage decreased to 93% this year after averaging 98% for the last several years.

  5. Become a UUA Full Share participant again.  We paid at Full Share from 1961 through 2010 and have been unable to do so since.  

We presented a balanced budget to the congregation for approval. Although we had to cut our desired budget in several areas, we were able to include modest increases for salaries, RE, Programming and Music.   

Save the Date!
Ordination of Suzanne Fast
On April 2, 2017 at 4:00p Suzanne Fast will be ordained as a minister by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers. Suzanne is a beloved member of our congregation and we are delighted to be celebrating this joyous occasion!

Please go to  to help show your support for Suzanne.  Your donation will help provide food, flowers, music, and more as this is not in our church budget. We will receive donations of any amount with great rejoicing!

We sponsored Suzanne as she completed the work and study that led to her Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association. Now, in her role as a community minister, the relationship will continue as Suzanne devotes herself to applying Unitarian Universalist values to justice in our congregations and in the larger community. 
Classes & Groups
Book Study with Rev. Allison 

Join in the Book Study Wednesdays from 1-2:30p in the Library. The group will be discussing the book  Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right  by Arie Russell Hoschchild.    Robert Reich writes” Anyone who wants to understand modern America should read this captivating book." In its review, Publisher’s Weekly notes: “After evaluating her conclusions and meeting her informants in these pages, it’s hard to disagree that empathy is the best solution to stymied political and social discourse.” The hopes of this facilitated book discussion is to find open-hearted and loving ways to facilitate  healing and compassion that move beyond national politics into matters of our faith... located  in places of the heart.  

Four more sessions continue from April 5th through April 26th.  Each session covers 2 chapters, with the last session covering last chapter and selection for next book study.
Weekly Activities
Community Wednesday 
Community Wednesday is held in Hobart Hall.  Bring friends and neighbors, too. Join us each Wednesday for a delicious meal prepared by Chef Joy for a small donation. After the fellowship and fine fare from 6:00- 6:45p, join your favorite programming event, committee meeting, or social activity. Child care is provided until 8:30p.
Regular Activitie s for April:

4:00-5:30              Optimal Living Group (1st & 3rd Wed)

6:00-6:45              Community Meal

6:00-6:45              Band Rehearsal in Sanctuary

6:45-8:00              Choir Rehearsal in Sanctuary
Social Justice
South Fort Myers Food Pantry  

The Community Sharing Month for the pantry proved to be very successful.  The donation from UUCFM is greatly appreciated and will be put to good use to help feed our neighbors in need who can not afford to buy food for their families every week.  In addition I have estimated the cash value of the food that we donate every week and am happy to say that it is around three thousand dollars for the year.  This is remarkable and is truly a group effort.  Kudos to those of you who remember to drop something off in the donation baskets as often as possible.  Baskets can be found in the Narthex and Hobart Hall by the water coolers.  Want to know more about the pantry?  Stop by the Social Justice table in Hobart Hall after church and pick up a flyer or email Fran Rose at  Be sure to put Food Pantry in the memo line of your email.

Caring News
Barbara Gerber
Member Emeritus Barbara Gerber died peacefully early Sunday morning March 19th in New York. Her daughter will be sending her ashes to Reverend Allison at the church, and Reverend Allison will keep you notified of when we might ceremonially spread Barb's ashes and recognize her place next to her beloved wife Nancy in the Memorial Garden. The family has requested, in lieu of flowers, that you please send Memorial donations in Barb's name to our congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers. Sympathy cards can be sent to the Gerber - Osborne family at 104 Whittemore Road, Oswego, NY  13126.
Service Auction Report 
Thank you to all who participated and created the successful 2017 Service Auction.  After all expenses have been paid UUCFM cleared $14,058.00.
Laptop Needed
The aging laptop we use for A/V in Hobart is dying.  Would anybody have a spare laptop they could donate to the church?

Please call the church at 239-561-2700 or email if you can help.
My UU Story

Dinner-Go- Round Discussion: Sermon Themes Suggested

Each winter, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers can sign up to participate in monthly Dinner-Go- Rounds.  And, dinner companions engage lots of conversation about our church. Here are some comments about desired sermon themes or topics a recent dinner group discussed.

"What gifts do you bring to the church, and are you offering them?"  suggests Mary Alice Pierce.  She notices that the same few people are doing so much.

"Let's learn about UU leaders past and present," says Alice Forsyth. "Perhaps a pair of ministers could be compared from the past and present."

"I would love to hear a sermon about how UU changed during the late 1800s to now," notes Susan Forsyth.  " I would also like a service on the way Biblical History impacts even UUs."

"Christ for UUs -- help us align our perspectives with traditional Christian beliefs," requests Melinda Machones.   "Another suggestion: Misquoting Jesus -- open our eyes to versions of how gospels and other New Testament books changed over time."

The pagan roots of Christian Holidays is an interest of Joy F. Sokeitous. "Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, etc., were originally part of Sun worship.   This would be good topic for a Christmas Eve service."

"What makes a philosophy a religion and how does UU fit in?" is what Jim Stout wants to know. "Perhaps one Sunday each month aspects of our history and beliefs could be presented."

About My UU Story
Each month, the Membership Committee would like to publish your UU story- either converted or born UUs.  How did you become a UU or how did our religion affect your life?  Alternatively, do you have a one-paragraph remembrance of your first reaction to being in a UU church and/or learning about the religion?  To share your story, please contact Joy Sokeitous at   Joy will help you edit and she will provide questions to help you develop your story.   
New UUCFM Campus Brochure
The Membership Committee has produced a new color brochure for taking a 21 station guided walk on our UUCFM campus. It was created and
produced by Bill Petrarca and Suzanne Ziemer with new friends and visitors in mind.  It is hoped members will take interested visitors and friends on this tour of our treasured place.  We all need to
encourage added membership to continue our growth and support of UUCFM.  Limited copies are at the Welcome table.
Photo Directory Update
Mel Cooper, Denis Jensen and John Swank have completed taking photos for the forthcoming directory.  Thank you to all who participated and we look forward to its publication later this Spring. A free copy will be given to each pledging unit and other copies can be obtained at cost.
Our Greater Community 
If you are a UUCFM Community Sharing Partner, a regular Facility User, or have UU related news to share, you are welcome to submit announcements for publication in our Greater Community section of the newsletter.  Please send announcements in by each Wednesday for publication in the Thursday E-news.  
Resist and Rejoice!
UUA General Assembly 2017
General Assembly Update:  Greetings Southern Region UU Congregations. Check out the website for everything you need to know for GA 2017.

April 2     Evan Carville is 13! 

April 4     Janine Johns

April 4      Pam Miller

April 11    Cindy Gustafson 

April 13     Brad Howe

April 27     Jeff Letts   

April 28     Mickey Kellam 

April 30     Audrey Brown 

 Please send all news articles for the Weekly E-news to
Jill Carville 
(239) 561-2700 
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