From the Freestone Committee, August 2018

All UUCB members and friends—and members of other UU churches in the greater Bay Area—are invited to a picnic at our Freestone Retreat on Saturday, September 15, 11 am–3 pm. There will be a barbecue lunch (potluck contributions welcome but not required), fun activities, conversation, relaxation, and meditative and worshipful moments.  We hope that church members will take this opportunity to become acquainted, or reacquainted, with the Retreat, in view of the big decisions all will be asked to make about its future in the coming weeks or months.  It’s a great place to bring the whole family.  Carpooling will be organized and encouraged.

If you can’t come that Saturday but would like to visit the Retreat, contact Bob Moore (510-913-1009), Terry Stokes (510-725-7850), or Don Klose (510-697-5307).

Some questions we’ve been asked:

How does the Freestone Retreat support the mission of UUCB?

“The mission of this church is to create loving community, inspire spiritual growth, and encourage lives of integrity, joy and service.” Group retreats help create loving community. Spending time out in nature—and many of the activities that take place there—inspire spiritual growth. Deep conversations and reflection there, and maintaining it in the spirit in which UUCB has had a country retreat for almost a century, promote integrity. Staying there can be a joyful experience, and it provides many opportunities for service.

Furthermore, the Freestone Retreat supports various UU principles, especially “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” It could serve our social justice goals by providing a place for urban kids to get out and experience nature in partnership with our Good Neighbor recipient YES Nature to Neighborhoods.

But can we afford to keep it?

Yes. The Freestone Committee is exploring various possibilities for repairs and renovations, enhanced marketing, reaching out to other UU congregations to resume using the Retreat, and other ways to generate revenues that could contribute to the financial well-being of our church—the opposite of being a financial drain. The Committee believes it should not be liquidated to pay for deferred maintenance on the church building, especially before adequately exploring the feasibility of a capital campaign and significant membership growth.

The expenses of operating the Freestone Retreat have never come out of the church’s budget or reserves. Rentals have covered the basic operating expenses. Donations from people who love the place have helped make some improvements possible. Our plan for many years has been to fund additional work by selling two adjacent parcels totaling about 7 acres, but that plan was put on hold by the Board of Trustees to take time for the current discernment process.

Why is it not being rented now?

Because of concern about liability, based on a 2015 consultant report. The Freestone Committee believes any safety issues have been adequately addressed and has plans for further improvements once money is raised to fund them.

Has the property been steadily increasing in value? 

Not during the recession, but in general properties in the area have been increasing by at least ten percent a year. The church’s other investments do not have that kind of return!

What UUCB groups have stayed there?

Youth groups, men’s and women’s groups, family groups, young adults group, the Board, committees/task forces, Write for Your Life, Handicrafters, Mist Tree Moon Circle, and others. All reported having a wonderful time and much appreciation for the Retreat.

Has it been used by other UU congregations?

Yes, groups from the Napa, Santa Rosa, Oakland and Davis churches and Starr King School for the Ministry have used it numerous times. Their current leadership may be less aware of it, but the Committee plans to remind them of its availability in the near future. The Retreat is an asset not only for our own congregation but for the regional UU community.