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President's Column by Jerry Wagnon

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Even though our church year runs from June through May, the turning of the calendar year is a more common time to take stock of the past year. And what a year it has been at UUCBV! Here are a few of the highlights.

Property Purchase. In April, we saw the culmination of a long search for the perfect location with the congregational vote to purchase a wooded property on 29th Street in Bryan adjacent to the Blinn College Bryan Campus. This represents more than just a generic property purchase but a commitment to a diverse neighborhood and the Bryan/College Station community beyond Texas A&M University.

Religious Education. A time for big changes in the way we do R.E. Many UU’s in recent years have grown up without any exposure to regular Sunday morning services. We moved the R.E. lesson to 10:00 a.m. and abbreviated it to 30 minutes. The youth and children now remain in the Sanctuary for the worship service or go to the adjacent Board Room. One of the most encouraging developments is the vibrant and growing cohort of junior and senior high school aged youth.

Music. While we have had a tough time finding a regular keyboard accompanist to replace Ron Bryan whom we lost this year, we have had able leadership and perhaps a more consistently contemporary musical experience thanks to our Artist in Residence, Joe Daigle. A musical ensemble, Collage, formed to meet worship needs.

Membership, Worship, and Committee on Ministry. We saw reorganization and development in these committees. The Worship Committee has reformed after an absence of several years with the goal of assisting the Minister in making our Sunday mornings a meaningful experience. The Committee on Ministry has sought feedback in the coffee hour, while the Membership Committee has new goals to serve and grow our congregation. I would be remiss in not mentioning the Caring, Radical Hospitality, Stewardship and Property Committees in their ongoing service.

Social and Environmental Justice Work. After an experiment in expanding the Split-the-Plate program to every Sunday instead of once a month, we were able to substantially increase giving to local and state organizations consistent with our UU Principles. We provided the venue in the Multi-Purpose Room for two events that helped the Pride Community Center reorganize as a viable force in BCS. MSJE embarked on a study of reproductive justice issues in conjunction with the UUWF, with the possibility of UUCBV becoming a Reproductive Justice Congregation.

Fundraising. St. Patrick’s Day provided a theme for our annual service auction which not only brought in needed funds, but also helped cement ties among members. Many UU’s as well as community members have learned to strum a few chords on the ukulele with our workshops. Football parking this year was a big success story with record proceeds thanks to the hard work of various members. Thanks to everyone who made all of these a success.

Ministerial Leadership. Over the last year, Rev. Donna Renfro has brought a new creativity and emotional power to our services and contributed especially to the design of our new facility. She has also been our strong voice in the community and local media for social action and UU values. We will be going into a period of interim ministry next fall, with plans to call a settled minister in the fall of 2022.

Facility Planning. For me, the most exciting development this year was the selection of PACT Design Studios to work with us on the design of our new building. As the year draws to a close, we have a floor plan in the final stages and graphics showing the proposed design. We also had a generous matching capital fund challenge from Ken and Kathi Appelt to increase the funds for construction.

I know that I have left out many notable developments and contributions of many members this year, my apologies, but please know you are appreciated. Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful 2020!

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