Exciting things have happened recently at ERUUF. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2016 with a year of activities, including several guest preachers from UU leadership. Starting with Rev. Arvid Straube, ERUUF's Minister Emeritus, we also had visits from Jim Key, moderator of the UUA, and Rev. Kathleen McTigue, Executive Director of the UUA College of Justice. Rev. Leslie Takahashi, a previous member of ERUUF, delivered the Celebration Weekend sermon on April 17, which was preceeded by a Music Gala the night before.
During our anniversary year, the Multicultural Team moved forward with our racial equity and inclusion initiatives by sponsoring two Dismantling Racism workshops. This work continues under the Team's leadership and includes many ways that ERUUFians can meet in small groups to discuss issues, share experiences and lend support including film series, People of Color (POC), White Awareness Group (WAG), First Sunday conversations, and a Beloved Community group. We continue our outreach to NC Central as a Historically Black Univerisity and in 2017, sponsored the first Dismantling Racism workshop that invited people from the larger community.
Our anniversary year also marked the beginning of discussions about a covenant for ERUUF. After two years of pondering, discussing and taking in ideas, we have adopted a covenant for the congregation. The covenant is a skillful summation by Paul Baerman of all the discussion and is an aspirational document that will guide how we live and be together at ERUUF.
Membership is growing by leaps and bounds from 607 in 2016 to 693 in 2018. We have expanded the number of our Journey to Membership classes and continue to strive to make new visitors feel welcome.
In 2017, we celebrated the ordination of Jacqueline Brett, who had been our student minister for two years. Rev. Brett is now our Associate Minister of Congregational Engagement.
Other staff changes continue. We said goodbyes to long-time Youth Program Coordinator Melissa Gjestvang-Lucky and office assistant, Michelle Sager and welcomed John Bush and Scott Oates, respectively, in those positions. Staff portfolios have been redesigned to meet current needs and programs.
The Justice Vision Quest Transition Team officially ended its work as our Justice Ministry continues to grow into the recommendations from the Vistion Quest Task Force. Funding for the Justice Ministry was shifted back into the budget as a line item and so Justice Sundays were discontinued.
After considerable review and discussion, a new Strategic Plan was created by the senior staff and approved by the Board in 2016-2017. The plan articulates specific ways members will engage in shared ministry to make the fellowship's vision reality and will guide us for the next 3-5 years.
Our religious education program for children and youth (RE) continues to draw families into ERUUF. We now have children that have grown up at ERUUF and the Coming of Age program has graduated 21 youth in the past two years. An Our Whole Lives (OWL) program for fifth graders was added to the already running programs for first and eigth grades.
Celebrating our 50 years brought to light that the newest building on our campus was 20 years of age. It had become time to do a complete audit of necessary maintenance and repair projects, which was conducted by Peter Romeyn under the direction of Daniel Trollinger, Director of Administration. This audit revealed that there was an estimated need for $320,000 of scheduled maintenance over the next ten years. In addition, ERUUF still owed $108,000 on its mortgage.
To address this need, a Special Campaign was conducted over a six week period in the winter of 2017-2018. Aided by the very generous challenge donation of $250,000 from an anonymous donor, the campaign was hugely successful, raising over $550,000. The most pressing maintenance projects are well under way as a result, as are planful discussions for how to best manage and plan for future maintenance funds.