Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St Croix

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Annual Membership Meeting Reports

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The UU Fellowship of St. Croix held its 2012 annual meeting Sunday, May 26. Elected as the new board of directors are:

President: Jim Nealon

Vice President: Susan Kraeger

Treasurer: Paul Chakroff

Secretary: Emy Thomas

Director at Large: Dick LaRhette


 We are taking a summer break now and will resume services in September (not October as in the past).


Here are the reports presented at the annual meeting.   

Minister’s Annual Report – UU Fellowship of St. Croix

Submitted by Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman – May 26, 2013

Congratulations! We made it through our first year as a team with much to be proud about. My report to you will include naming some of the best qualities I saw in you this successful year and some hints to build on our success in the year to come.


Open to Experiment – Worship is the time we set aside each week to celebrate and honor the things that we hold most sacred in our lives. It is the time when we uphold our values according to Donald Krehbiel, Music Director at First Unitarian Church in Dallas, TX.

You adapted to changes in worship that included a different order of worship elements and the inclusion of our young people as chalice lighters. In addition we featured several intergenerational services where the youth and young adults (teachers) remained in service and in other instances actively participated.  Probably not everyone loves all the changes, I know, but you have been gracious in allowing them.

Open to Learning

Many of you invested in deepening your understanding about Unitarian Universalism with the What It Means to Be a Unitarian Universalist. Ten of you enjoyed it so much that you chose to become members.

Celebratory Events

It was a year of celebration with my Installation and having the presence of the Lead Executive for the District and the Unitarian Universalist Association. We utilized Kenn’s presence and organized two team building opportunities early in our new partnership – one for the Board and the other with members and supporters.

We bask in the delightful knowledge that ten new members were excited enough about us to formalize their membership. In turn we inducted them into the life of the Fellowship with a New Member Ceremony and they signed the Membership Book. Two typically UU rituals were included in our worship this year:  the Water Ceremony and Flower Ceremony. Others will be added as a way to broaden our exposure to Unitarian Universalism, using worship elements.


You have demonstrated your resilience by sticking around through the changes and continuing to volunteer in everything from Religious Education to refreshments, flowers, choir, pastoral care, Committee on Ministry, Covenant Groups, and other vital roles in the Fellowship. But by far the biggest adjustment for any congregation is adjusting to a new minister. A colleague, Rev. Barbara Gadon, contends that, “adapting to a new leader and getting used to a different style, strengths and weaknesses …is never easy.”  I can only say that I have felt warmly welcomed and embraced by the Fellowship.


You are thriving in many ways: The church has grown by 10 members this year; Pledging has increased slowly; worship attendance has climbed and has maintained a healthy overall increase. Less quantifiable but no less real are your individual comments from the Congregational Evaluation that we are still reviewing. Some of them include the following:

  • Closeness of caring members (3)
  • Atmosphere
  • Loving friendliness (2)
  • Community activism
  • Informality
  • Minister (3)
  • Children’s story
  • Music (4)
  • Diversity
  • Supportive
  • Relevant services
  • spirituality

Visual Displays – In looking for new approaches to communicating and learning I have utilized the space provided by the Jewish Community Center. Starting with the Women’s History Month display during the month of March and the highlight of our children and Sunday School.  Hence, the Children’s Sunday School is Cool Display will become an annual event that we will plan. Also, inviting our artist members to set up an Art Display for a future fundraiser and to educate ourselves about the gifts and talents of our members and local talent might be another use of the space.

Collaboration with Our Neighbors

Helen Englehardt, author of Pan Am Flight 103; Holocaust Memorial April 7 and 14; (observed jointly and choir)

Interfaith Coalition – Clergy Meet and Greet; Summer Program; Film Series; Coffee House and other fundraising efforts that I participated in that reflected the collaboration that we emphasize.


To prepare for next year I encourage you to consider the following:

Religious Education– Quality family ministry is key to attracting families. I think we have a good program that we can make great! We need to promote our Sunday School more. Creating an ad and brochure for the newsletter might inspire greater interest when folks with families come to the website. Also, I encourage the development of a Children’s Worship Packets to be given to each child with a particular emphasis on new children. Not only does this send the message that young people matter but parents and the children could discuss the contents at home. Also, the packets are designed for intergenerational services when the children get restless and need some distraction.  The packets would include: UU coloring pages; crayons and/or colored pencils; children’s version of 7 Principles and Six Sources; treats (box of raisins); construction paper (doesn’t rattle like regular paper); pencil; UU Facts; Story of Chalice; History of Congregation; and Name Tag.

I would like to see us be more intentional about tokens of appreciation and rituals for our children.

Leadership – We are finding it difficult to identify individuals who are not overextended to participate in leadership roles. Determine what aspects of the Fellowship are important to you and get involved. Make a commitment to step into a leadership role if you have not already done so. Establish greater ties to the Fellowship and inspire an even stronger community in turn.  Cast a vision for the future to help pave the way to a happier, healthier community.  I would like to see us develop a Membership Handbook. I also would like to teach a UUism 101 Class. We will be repeating the What It Means to Be a Unitarian Universalist each year. Let’s plan to invite Kenn Hurto once a year. Also, let’s send an invitation to Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association to come and visit us the next time he is in the neighborhood! We could plan this during our Stewardship Campaign.

Stewardship Campaign – Create a stewardship team to work closely with the minister to have “mixers” where people gather in their homes and share their visions for the church over food. Have yours truly begin the Stewardship Campaign with a sermon on giving and generosity.

Liturgical Calendar – There are a number of universal holidays/holy days and other events that we as UUs recognize. As part of our deepening faith development it might be helpful if we incorporate some of these into a liturgical calendar. For example, the Musical Tribute that we did December 23 that honored Christmas for Christians, Pagans, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa through music and readings might become an annual event, along with a thanksgiving service, Easter etc. Working with the Program Committee to in turn coordinate with guest speakers so that we support specific themes in our liturgical calendar.

Music – Music is a gift to the congregation and we have been gifted with talented individuals. With the loss of our pianist we might take this opportunity to be more inclusive and to offer a wider range of music to appeal to the diversity that we wish to attract including young adult families and racial and cultural diversity.

Pastoral Care – The pastoral needs of the Fellowship are growing. And while the minister is usually an important resource, my part time status does not allow me to do much pastoral counseling. The solution is to work with a Pastoral Care Committee that makes visits, runs errands and steps into the person’s life while they are in need of some extra help.  Gail Nealon and I will be doing some training and supervision of volunteers, along with a Handbook.

Summer Sundays – Beginning summer, June – August 2014 I recommend having one Sunday a month trial worship. We would use recorded music to keep the cost down.

Dislikes or Need Improvement

  • lack of fundraising
  • more involvement in local community affairs & social issues
  • keep service under 1 1/4 hrs.
  • not enough volunteer involvement
  • need a pianist (3)
  • need leadership participation
  • need own meeting space
  • offer conferences to minister and leaders
  • encourage more people to join and be active
  • need more children
  • explore community forums, social justice, book discussion, adult RE & new member classes
  • shorter or no meditation

I look forward to continuing to partner with you on this sacred journey doing this very special work.



 This has been an exciting year for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St Croix. Having the Reverend Qiyamah Rahman, as the first minster on our staff,  has made a huge difference to how we feel and operate as Fellowship. We have adjusted to the changes and challenges presented to us, and have risen to the tasks asked of us and we have continued to move forward with energy and enthusiasm.

 As a result of our Visioning and Growth Workshop with Reverend Kenn Hurto last fall, these are the goals we set for ourselves this year: Increasing our membership, growing our Religious Education program, increasing our diversity and inspiring leadership of our UU Community. Although we will always be working on these goals, and never be satisfied that we have done enough, we are happy to say that we have had some success in each of these areas.

 Gail’s thank yous: I would like to thank the Jewish Community Center and their members for making us feel welcome and for all the work they have been doing on the building.

 Our Board of Directors whose leadership has kept things going so smoothly again this year: Nina York,  Emy Thomas, Jim Nealon, and myself and recently Dick LaRhette, our at large board member have worked many hours and have shared their vision and leadership with us. They deserve thanks from all of us. They along with our committees and other members and friends of the Fellowship have worked hard to bring you some wonderful services. But, it is not only the Board that makes things happen on these Sunday mornings, .. it takes the whole community working together.

 Minister: First, Reverend Rahman who officiates at all of our services, and pulls together the details, and players and makes it all run smoothly. She has added a valuable and important element to our services and our community. And we are thankful for her presence among us.

 Program Committee, with Nina York, as the Chairman, brought us interesting guest speakers for half of our services, some of who were our own members and friends.

Music: Then the music gets planned.  Marsha Shuman has accompanied most of our services and Shirley Ziegler has played for the choir members and the choir members have filled in when Marsha was unable to be present for a service.. Other members and friends have also shared their talents at services. Thank you all! This coming year we will have the challenge of finding and hiring a suitable Music Director, to replace Marsha, who retired this month. We have already talked to an excellent highly qualified candidate, who is a new member of the UU Fellowship of Stx.. Unfortunately, he will not be available to us until January 2014. Until then the choir will have the additional challenge of putting together the music for our services by themselves, with the assistance of Rev. Qiyamah. Guest artists may be hired.

Our Workshops have been interesting, thought provoking and fun. Having Rev. Kenn Hurto,  the Southern District leader of the UUA, of which we are apart, working with us was very helpful and got us focused on important issues. He also led the installation service to make Reverend Qiyamah our minister. We plan to have him come once a year to assist us.

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Our Covenant Group: has pulled some of us together in casual settings for discussions of important topics, and has helped us to get to know each other better and to feel more a part of a our UU Community. New people continue to join the group and add to its richness. I will continue to act as the leader/advisor to the group, but, we will be looking for new people to assist me in leading some of these groups and/or discussions this year.

 Growing the Fellowship: It is wonderful that we have attracted new people to our services who are excited to have found us and whose energy, ideas, and friendships enrich our community and bring help we can certainly use. We have more diversity now than we have had before, and that is a definite plus and the group seems to be getting slightly younger too, so we hope it will bring with it some leadership ability and ideas for the future. Ten new members have joined so far this year and two more are waiting to join at this time.

 Children’s Programs: One of our dearest hopes for this year was that we would be able to grow our Sunday School program. This dream has come true, thanks in great part to Robin Freeman, who just keeps talking to young Moms and telling them about us .. thank you Robin! To our Sunday School  teacher, Anika Rabsatt and her assistant and sister, Reena Tarver take good care of our children on Sunday mornings, and teach them valuable lessons and  we wish to thank them for all their work with the children. And to Elizabeth Peacock who acts as our Sunday School’s advisor.  The Children’s Story’s by Cat Austin Franks are always a treat, for children of all ages, and deliver on target messages that tie into the services.

 Extension of the Fellowship’s year and  Minister’s contract: Last, but not least, at the request and encouragement of some of our members, and Rev. Rahman, the board has discussed the issue of starting our year in September. We voted and the decision was unanimous. We plan to renew Rev. Qiyamah’s contract for the year 2013-4, with the addition of the 2 Sept. services.

 President’s Summary: For me personally, the most exciting thing about working for, and with, this group is the positive energy I feel when I am with you all. Your willingness to pitch in and do anything that is needed is a wonderful gift to all of us. You prepare and deliver services and sermons, you sing or play instruments, so that the music will continue to uplift us, you prepare delicious food and drinks for our Pot Lucks and for our social hours, arrange flowers for our services, do our Publicity, send our Birthday Cards, host workshops and meetings, run Covenant group meetings, or to do general setting up and taking down for the services, and giving generously to the many Not-for-Profit Organizations, which have done presentations at our services, you’ve also served as Greeters and helped put in many ways to make this year a success.

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Many of you have taken on roles in this and other worthy organizations and make important things happen in the community. And many of you have done all of the above in past years, lest we forget that we would not be here today, if you had not kept this Fellowship going for the last 26 years, without the benefit of staff! Your willingness to help each other and to serve this community and the world is what Unitarian Universalism is all about. I feel honored to have had the privilege to serve as your President again this year, and to be a part of this special community and I have relied on you heavily as it takes a Community to run this lay-led UU Fellowship of St Croix.

 Thank you all for such a good year. Your enthusiasm and generosity will spread the word to others and those who find us will be enriched by the experience and will want to come back again and again….

Sincerely, Gail Nealon, President 2012-13 of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St Croix



Treasurer’s report for Fiscal Year 2012-2013


We are healthy financially. We have about $33,000 in our 1st Bank checking account with only $100 accounts receivable. That is an increase of approximately $5,000 from last year ( however we have accrued about $3100 in obligations for next FY).

Financially the fiscal year was characterized by generosity of the members and participants of the Fellowship, a matching pledge earmarked for the new minister contract, a significant grant from the UU South East region  and rational spending our budget. We budgeted aggressively planning on an increased membership and visitor participation. This came to pass.  The year resulted being over budget by a mere $600 (projected) .

Maintaining this financial cushion will allow us to extend next year’s program with little risk. Total budget for FY 2013-2014 will be $21,665 (if approved at the annual meeting) – a marked increase from this year’s $17,300. We are planning on having an extended season, starting in September.  The budget is balanced by expecting an increase in collections, donations, pledges  and some special fund raising next year. So expect to see a friendly pledge commitment letter from your treasurer next September with a match from an anonymous donor for extra funding of the consulting minister.


Jim Nealon




During the past UU season, from October 2012 till today, May 26, 2013, we have enjoyed the highly rewarding leadership of our new Minister Rev. Dr. Qiyamah Rahman.  This has changed and lightened the burden of the Vice President/Program Chair  in that  now only one additional speaker per month during our calendar year is expected to deliver the sermon. Her presence has also increased the membership and attendance, a totally enjoyable outcome.

During the past UU season, we have invited and enjoyed inspiring presentations, starting with one by Carolyn Keys – on the subject of peace and non-violence;  by Frandelle Gerard on the CHANT organization that takes visitors through meaningful tours of our island treasured sites; a moving installation service  of Rev. Qiyamah by our District Leading minister Rev. Kenn Hurto; by Tracy Sanders on compassionate care by Continuum Care Hospice for individuals at the end of their life, a sermon by visiting UU minister Rev. Edmund Robinson with his dance group on the subject To Be of Use, and an Earth Day sermon by Nate Olive of the Ridge to Reef  Farm in gratitude of our precious environment.  The sermon for May 12, Flower Communion taking place on Mother’s Day, was assigned to Marsha Shuman, who started the entire UU presence in St. Croix many years ago. A planned sermon by Peter Stewart , an Acupuncture medic as well as a certified Qi Gong instructor, unfortunately had to be cancelled due to his illness. Finally, the sermon presenter for the annual meeting is our outgoing President Gail Nealon; her topic is: The Sacred Call: Personal Answers to Ultimate Questions.

All other sermons have been delivered by Rev. Qiyamah Rahman in a totally professional manner, greatly appreciated by a growing congregation.  The topics have varied – from the traditional UU Water Ceremony, an appropriate Thanksgiving service, to an impressive nearly impromptu sermon on Qi Gong and other spiritually meaningful exercises.  A musical ecumenical service shared with Rabbi Marna of the Jewish Community Center was just one example of the inter-faith outreach demonstrated by Rev. Qiyamah. Her other sermon topics included The Role of Hope in Our Lives, Black History Reflections, Women in UU, Renewal and Hope, and Let’s Talk About Evil.  Several services brought musical joy from Joshua Daniel and Jazzy Blue, “Doc” Petersen, to name a few. But Rev. Qiyamah participated and officiated in every service, and shared with President Gail Nealon  an excellent workshop that  resulted in an increase of 10 members  in our fellowship.  A very satisfactory year!

Respectfully submitted  by                                                                                                  Nina York





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