[T]o join with others to shape a future is the holiest act. This is hard work, and it never stops being hard, but this collective dreaming / designing is the only way we get to keep surviving, and this practice defines us as a community.

- Charlie Jane Anders

This year we have seen changes, experienced challenges, celebrated and mourned.

Just this month, we bade farewell to our Rev. Carmen Emerson, who is retiring from congregational ministry and joining Jim and Grace in Florida. Our ministerial transitions have proven to be powerful times of renewal, when people have had an opportunity to step up and and try out new roles. As a congregation, we've found our voice, and have become more outward focused, more committed to making a difference in our community and in our world. I believe this period, whether it is with an interim minister in the near term, or in the new year, is another such opportunity.

What have we done so far this year? We have created safe place for our children to learn, and grow. In the next few weeks, we'll have Coming of Age of youth, the culmination of many months work and reflection on the principles and values that shape their lives. In the fall, we'll begin a new series on Our Whole Lives for our middle schoolers, the only program I'm aware of that approaches topics of sexuality in an absolutely cleared-eyed, healthy manner.

We've created a place where we ourselves can learn and grow, throughout OUR whole lives.

We've made a difference in our community. From share the plate, to providing a safe, warm place for our most vulnerable neighbors, to simply showing solidarity by flying our Pride, Siding with Love flags, by showing up and speaking out, and taking action on social action.

And we can do more. And with each of us contributing, much more.

How? Commit to participating. Join in. Or lead. Think about our mission, and what more we could do. Commit to making a difference.

Commit to supporting the church financially. Each of us, doing what we can, sacrificing to make a difference in the world.

Like every congregation, each year we we see change in our financial support. People move, loved ones die, folks leave the church. New friends join, and people increase their support. In most years, this balances, and the church grows. This year, we've had some our most generous members move and pass on. We've also had people leave. For us to continue to grow, we'll want to increase our pledges by 10%, on average. If you can increase more, please do. If you cannot, know that we appreciate the sacrifices you make to continue your support.

I ask you to think about what the church has meant to you, to your family, to our children, to our community. And I ask you to consider how much you can increase your pledge.

Together we shape the future. The work IS hard, and it never stops being hard, and this defines us. I am grateful to be with you as we work, together, to build a better world.

Jesse Spencer-Smith, Pledge Coordinator