the OUUC spark

April 20, 2023

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Building Trust - Rev. Mary Gear

Last Sunday, I spoke about how we build and re-build trust at OUUC. I shared some recent experiences in our community where past hurts were apparent and mistrust was a result. You can watch the service here.

On Sunday, I said that it’s probably impossible for a group of people to get anything done and not bump up against each other’s expectations and step on each other’s toes. I said, given that this will happen, what is most important is what we do with our disappointment and hurt. My hope is that we create a community together where we can name the disappointments and hurts, and work through them in a place of safety and trust.

Safety is a big part of building trust. As a congregation, we have policies and practices in place to protect everyone, especially those most vulnerable. You can find OUUC’s Safer Congregations Policy here. You can find more information about safer congregations here.

In our OUUC Safer Congregations policy, we require practices like having two adults present with children, so no adult is alone with a child. We require background checks for anyone interacting with children. We explicitly name harassment and abuse as unacceptable behavior against anyone of any age. And we require that anything of concern be reported to and acted on by the staff, minister, and Board when needed.

OUUC has a Safer Congregations Response Team in place to respond to any concerns about safety in our community. Thank you to Barry Zickuhr, Wendy Tanner, and Rick Brandt-Kreutz for serving with me and Rev. Sara Lewis when needed.

We have also recently revised the OUUC Employee Handbook such that it clearly lays out the expectations for all staff regarding professional ethics and behavior, including expectations about relationships with congregants. Abuse of power and position is never OK toward anyone of any age.

I am also convening a Healthy Congregations Team to help us build a healthy community in all the ways we can be healthy, including building trust. You can learn more about Healthy Congregations Teams here. More about that at OUUC in the months ahead.

As a people of faith, we know that part of creating Beloved Community is creating communities that are as safe as possible. The infrastructure of policies and practices helps with that. And it is our day-to-day interactions that support a community of safety and trust. It’s the small things that build trust and break trust. It takes each of us to be clear, direct, and courageous in our interactions so that we can all feel safe. That’s how we create a community of trust.

If you’d like to talk further about past or present disappointments or hurts, or if you feel unsafe at OUUC, please reach out to me, Rev. Sara, or a board member, for a discussion.

Blessings on your week,

Rev. Mary

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Don’t miss our live auction and gathering on Saturday, May 6, from 5 to 8 pm. Buy your ticket by April 22!

Tickets are $10 to $100 per person—pay what you can, everyone is welcome. This is an all ages event and childcare will be provided (register via the link above). Small plates and drinks will be served.

Additional auction highlights and news:

- Get your ticket to the pre-auction Cameroonian dinner on April 22. Hosted by Beatrice Owana-Kellogg, this dinner features six tasty dishes.

- Interested in volunteering at the auction? Let us know. Help serve food and drink, take-down, clean-up, etc. If interested, contact Maggie Post at

- Raffle tickets are on sale for the Sewing Ministry’s quilt, $5 each or 5 for $20. Get your ticket after the service, at the Thursday night dinner, or at the live auction event. The winner will be chosen on May 6.

- Donations of social events, outings, get-togethers, handmade items, or unique opportunities are welcome. Tell us what you’d like to donate and complete the online procurement form by April 28.

The Tiny Little News Show

tiny little news april 17 2023

Work on OUUC’s HVAC system has begun.

Sunday services will be held in the classrooms on April 16 and 23, and maybe on April 30. The classrooms have limited seating, so if your spiritual needs can be met by participating on Zoom or YouTube we invite you to do so.

The Thursday dinners will be held as usual. The Commons ceiling near the doorway may look like a construction zone, but we expect the rest of the room to be fit for use.

There will be no Thursday evening spiritual practice after April 6. We will offer after-dinner activities in the Commons for those onsite on Thursday evenings.


Looking for upcoming events? Go to the OUUC Calendar.