Elections for four new members of our Board of Trustees will take place at our Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 1 following the 11:00 am service.

Here are the four nominees selected by our Nominating Committee, along with their bios.

Heather Diddel

I don’t know exactly when Sam and I started coming to Unity Church in Albany other than that the first time we came, our kids were teenagers and they are now 30 and 33. We came intermittently and then we became “regulars” a few years into Rev. Jim’s tenure around 2004 or 2005. I became a member in 2006 or 2007 and I’ve been attending for the last 15 or 16 years. I’m committed to this congregation. Unity changed my life and became my home in a way I had never imagined possible. I had no idea that this kind of community existed or that members of a church community could so deeply awaken, feed and support one another.

This community feeds my heart, mind and soul and is one of the most important parts of my life. I am an avid student and love the Unity courses I’ve taken. Most recently, these have been prosperity courses with Diane Albano and John Frederick. Unity principles resonate as Truth for me. Unity writers changed how I understand the Universe, and Reverend Jim, in particular, taught by example what it means to be a spiritual seeker walking a path of spiritual integrity, curiosity, humor and constant learning.

My volunteer service during the last year included platform assisting, serving as Chair of the Nominations Committee for Board Elections, and serving as Unity representative on the FOCUS board. I also ushered sporadically and played a minor role in hospitality, the social action committee, and the Church’s clean up days. Among other contributions, as an attorney at a local law firm, I expect to provide the Church with the workplace harassment training required by NYS these days, as well as an anti-harassment /anti-discrimination policy that reflects state law changes in the last two years.

I want to serve on the board because Unity Church in Albany has changed my life and I feel strongly called to give back in a bigger way than I have done for the last 4-5 years. I view the board not as a hierarchical structure, but as a circle of people coming together to give their best in service to the church. Being a church Trustee means being entrusted with holding and growing Unity consciousness of the church and myself, being a guardian and steward along with the minister, other Trustees and members of the Church, and becoming, in effect, a walking-talking-listening expression of the Mission of Unity Church in Albany. This is a time of significant transition and growth for our church and our congregation and I would like to be of service now in any way I can.

Dottie Frament

I have been attending Unity Church in Albany since 2004 and I became a member in 2007. I was a longtime student of A Course in Miracles and became a Unity Class junkie thanks to Rev. Jim & Rev. Crystal’s classes. I have also taken the 4-T classes and Rob Geyer’s “Little Buddha” and “Conversations with God” classes. For the past 2 ½ years, I have served as a facilitator of our Unity group that is committed to the lifelong task of healing racism by increasing our awareness of our own unconscious bias and internalized racism through educating ourselves using books, documentaries, workshops, and by inviting dialogues with mixed races in safe small groups. We aim to come from a pro-human agenda rather than an anti-racism one. We have only begun to scratch the surface, but I believe Spirit is guiding the pace.

I was a Trustee of Unity Board from 2011-2015, serving as President the last 2 years, and liaison to Sunday Service ( Hospitality, Ushers, A-V team) and Special Events. I enjoyed organizing pot luck lunches, Christmas parties, gardening activities, doing Unity Church Cares, and serving on the Search Committee that brought Rev. Crystal to us. I am also a prayer chaplain, and I am a “Keeper of the Flame (a group of people who pray for the board during their meetings). I began tithing with my first 4T class and I haven’t stopped.

My experience of being a church Trustee is that it is a calling of Spirit to be a container for the highest consciousness that the congregation has or is growing into, and to have a spiritual practice that one can rely on to stay the course when there are conflicting needs and desires of the community that have to be addressed. I wish to serve because although I was absolutely dead set on not getting involved at this intense level of service, I got a very clear call from Spirit that I can be of service to this church during this time of transition, but only if I surrender to Spirit’s guidance. And so, I let go and let God, and I am willing to “be with” and trust what shows up.

Carol Morris

I have been attending Unity Church in Albany since I moved to upstate NY in August, 2017. I became a member on June 30, 2019. To date, my primary service to the Unity community and the highlight of my activities has been through singing – I sing regularly with “the band” and the choir. This involves a time commitment of approximately 3-4 hours per week. I have also participated in several Clean Up days and assisted with a few social events. I love to sing and am grateful for the opportunity to sing with “the band” during services most weeks, and with the choir when it sings.

Some other skills and talents of mine include high levels of conscientiousness and responsibility and well-developed organizational skills. In addition to being a member of Unity, I am also a Quaker – this means that I have experience in listening more deeply to the leadings of Spirit. I attended my first Unity service in Tulsa, OK, in 2011. I fell in love with Unity at that first service. I continued to attend when my late husband and I moved to North Carolina; I was active in the Unity Church of the Triangle in Raleigh and sang with the choir there. Over time, attending Unity has become more and more important in my life; it has truly become my spiritual home. On a more personal level, my primary goal is to become ever more aware of my true nature as a manifestation of God and to be a positive influence in the world; in Quaker terms, to “let my life speak.”

I see being a Trustee as a way to be of service to the community, to be involved at a deeper level, and to deepen my commitment to the Unity Church in Albany community. Highest on the list right now is providing a smooth transition to a new Minister, since Reverend Crystal has announced that she will not be renewing her contract. This means listening carefully and prayerfully to the community, as well as providing support and reassurance as the community moves through this process. It also means providing support to Reverend Crystal throughout this transition.

Patricia Wood

I have been attending Unity Church in Albany for approximately three years and I became a member in 2019. In the fall of 2019, I was appointed co-chair of Unity’s Fundraising Committee and I also currently serve on the Finance Committee. I attend services as much as possible, as well as special events like the Burning Bowl ceremony. I also signed up as a monthly donor and I contribute at each service or event I attend. Among the highlights of the past year for me were to meet more Unity members and leaders and offer my skills and experiences to help our church develop “best practices” that allow for more continuity among committees.

I offer myself as a nominee because I believe that Church Trustees should work in partnership with the ministry to ensure effective management of the church’s operations. Trustees should show leadership in terms of overseeing business and financial operations, spiritual programming, and also help with relations with other local church networks and organizations. Trustees should ensure a successful future for Unity in Albany. I also want to help develop “best practices” for Unity’s volunteer committees, including (as appropriate) clearly understood committee purposes, standard operating procedures, evaluations, etc. For any voluntary organization, it is important to regularly evaluate committee purposes and operations (“tune-ups”) and, at times, consolidate or sunset groups that are no longer needed. With finite people and finances, it is essential that Unity Church in Albany understand its resources and limitations and stay focused on its core spiritual mission and purpose.

With the recent news of Reverend Crystal’s departure, there is likely to be a lot of sadness, pain and disruption among Unity members in the year ahead. While I am not privy to the factors behind her departure, I think I can help the Board and the interim ministry understand the dynamics between staff and volunteer leaders, and perhaps develop more realistic expectations of staff vs. volunteer contributions. The Board should also place a high priority on developing consistent and professional finance management, as well as systems that allow for an ongoing understanding of financial practices and standard procedures, and continuity between staff and volunteer finance officers year to year.