As we flip the calendar and ring in another new year, we wanted to take time to lift up some of the highlights of 2022… a year to remember!
We started the year by returning to in-person services! While we continue to make adjustments to keep us safe, it has been wonderful to be together in person yet again.
In February, our Caretaker, Joseph Newman left to work for a large tech company, and we continue to wish him well.
In the spring, we Ushered in the Future to a successful Operating Fund Drive, and then members gave even more to continue to keep the current staffing levels, and we thank you! Our Director of Finance and Operations, Rebecca Chatfield brought in a total of $178,000 from the Employee Retention Credit (government grant).
The ESUC Mighty Choir returned to singing for services in mid spring and has become quite adept at singing while masked.
On Sunday, May 1, East Shore history was made with the calling of Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa as our settled minister. It was a unanimous vote. This was after a wonderful Candidating Week when her energy was felt both online and in person.
We celebrated two extravagant Music Services; one on May 15 and one on December 18 where many talented members and friends of ESUC appeared, including the East Shore All Stars – a house jazz band made up of pianist John Chmaj, saxophonist Noel Barnes, drummer George Gatins, guitarists Craig Nelsen and Arthur Knapp and vocalist Eric Horner. Also featured were violist Barb Clagett and the vocal quartet Princess Guy. We also welcomed musical guests Caitlin Kelley and Kevin Krentz who provided wonderful classical violin and cello pieces.
This year we were able to welcome back the return of the Women’s Perspective Retreat and Seabeck!
Over the summer we sent a full delegation and more to General Assembly in Portland. Members were able to learn about the possible changes to the Article II of the bylaws—including changes to our Principles. It was also an opportunity to celebrate Amanda Alice Uluhan receiving her credentialling for a religious educator!
Director of Music Eric Lane Barnes spent four days in Ann Arbor, Michigan with the Association of Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries’ conference in July. It is always exciting, edifying and rewarding to spend time learning what other directors of music are doing in their congregations, and finding new ways to bring music to life in services.
Meanwhile, we welcomed 45 children for a wonderful week long summer camp. Over Labor Day we hosted an Our Whole Lives training for 60 adults who are helping to bring OWL to East Shore and other UU churches in the area.
The summer also brought us a chance to prepare for our new minister and beautify the campus.
Big thanks to those who participated in the religious education coordinated multigenerational community mural project in the Education Building! We also have been fortunate to be able to display the mural from the Red Road Totem Pole Journey. This mural includes paintings by some of our members and Rev. María Cristina, while she was with her previous congregation, connecting us even before she was called.
We also took time to vote to change a few bylaws, including the fiscal year. In December we voted in the 2023 budget as we transition to the new year.
In the fall, we fully welcomed our new minister and her wonderful mother, Mama Lily. It was a joyful celebration that included the return of the Salmon Bake, an East Shore tradition. Other returning traditions, flower communion, water communion, the Margaret Fuller Tea, the Thanksgiving potluck and the BBQ!
We are excited to welcome back OWL with two junior high sexuality classes taught, with more coming in 2023. More in-person activities returned including the Auction which was multiplatform. It was not just a success financially, but also for community building. Thanks go to all who donated, bid, and participated!
Our social justice actions didn’t stop! We continued to write postcards to voters in areas with low-voter turnout. We also fully welcomed our guests with Congregations for the Homeless, and the tags for the Giving Tree. The Women’s Perspective Team has begun collecting items for aftercare kits for women after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This work will continue into 2023.
The last few months of the year have given us a glimpse of the joy ahead.
Reverend María Cristina sang ‘Todo Cambia Todo’ with the Mighty Choir when our scheduled soloist Lassie Jordan had to stay home due to COVID. Lassie was able to sing the solo a few weeks later (the first solo she’d sung in her life) when our two visiting ministers requested the song for their service. The Mighty Choir along with the East Shore congregation has been learning and singing several new songs in Spanish, including ‘Las Posadas,’ ‘Gracias Por el Amor’ and ‘Gracias a la Vida,’ which Mama Lily sang along with Reverend María Cristina at her celebratory service in September.
In November, we welcomed all the new members (24 in total) who joined since the pandemic with a celebration during worship. Thank you to Rev. María Cristina for a meaningful Día de los Muertos service at the end of October. The alters she created were beautiful and healing. We also enjoyed a new tradition with Las Posadas!
Our need to go virtual has been a blessing. We continue to see a large number of guests logging in each week, and since 2021 our worship attendance numbers are up from an average of 98 last fall to 150 in 2022! And our Zoom circle of attendees has increased; we added a new group of remote East Shore fans at Murano Living, who gather each Sunday thanks to new member Betsy Gelb.
Here’s to a new year with more memories!