Our minister is Rev. Carol Bodeau. Learn more about Rev. Bodeau here.
(Link goes to a different page on this site.)
Westside is governed by a Board of Trustees. Board members are elected by the Congregation in an annual Congregational Meeting. Our current President is Linda Fippin. Read a welcome letter from Linda below.
Our Programs & Membership Coordinator is Elizabeth Corbett. Learn more about Elizabeth here.
Westside had its beginnings in a storefront in Farragut in 1987. We've been growing ever since!
A Welcome Letter from Our President
Linda Fippin, Board President
As most of you who are members or friends of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church know, our dear friend and President of the Board of Trustees, Carol Coffey, passed away unexpectedly in August of 2022. As I was President-Elect of the Board at the time of Carol’s death, I have assumed the office of President. I was honored when Carol recommended me for the office of President-Elect and was looking forward to his mentorship during this church year. Now that I have assumed the presidency, I will do my very best to continue Carol’s leadership, vision and high standards as Westside moves through the coming church year with a sense of rebirth and rejuvenation after the trying 2-plus years of Covid-19.
I am relatively new to Unitarian Universalism having joined the congregation at Westside about 5-1/2 years ago. I was born and lived my whole life in Northern California until I moved to Knoxville in 2007. I had been raised in the Episcopal Church until my teenage years when I left Christianity and chose to base the way I live my life on secular principles. Being a secular person living in a highly religious area, I yearned for a sense of community, and with a mostly “let’s see what this is about” attitude, I attended a service at Westside in March of 2017 and have been here ever since. I certainly found community at Westside where every individual is valued and welcome regardless of their identity or the specifics of their beliefs. The size of the congregation makes it possible to get to know almost everyone in a fairly short time and yet is large enough to support not only our members, staff and facilities, but to engage in activities to support the larger community of which we are a part.
The pandemic years have been a chaIlenge for Westside, as they were for most churches and other institutions, limiting the ways in which we could interact and be with each other. Not surprisingly, the isolation imposed by Covid-19 encouraged us to be inward-focused. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as it gave some of us a welcome break from too-busy lives and time for reflection. But as we are emerging from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we can begin to shift some of our focus outward and look forward not only to resuming many of our traditions, but also to engage in our larger community in new and meaningful ways.
Westside has always been a source of support for others in our community. We have been a long-time participant in the Family Promise program that supports homeless families. We have been a Welcoming Congregation for the LGBTQ+ community, and many members participate in Pride activities. In the early part of each year, Westside volunteers participate in the VITA program which offers free tax preparation for low-income, disabled and limited-English-speaking individuals. Now we are also resuming the Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education program for pre-teens and teens that has been on hiatus during the pandemic, and we hope to have more religious exploration activities for young people in the future. Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, several members have formed a group actively engaged in working on reproductive care issues. Interest in a Green Sanctuary program and other environmental causes is bubbling up, too. These are welcome signs of renewed energy and purpose.
Westside describes itself as a community based on warm hearts, open minds, and caring hands. We look forward to ever greater opportunities to live these values and welcome you to join us.
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees Philosophy of Governance
The authority of the Board is derived from the trust placed in them through a vote of the congregation, or the appointment by the board as in keeping with our bylaws, to the roles they now hold. It is understood that the Board of Trustees has an identity which transcends the identities of the individuals who now serve and it is understood that the board “speaks with one voice” in its decisions and policies. The sacred obligation of the Minister and Board is to serve the Mission and Vision of the congregation.
Mindful of our respective roles as spiritual leader and fiduciary guardians, we, the Minister and Board of Trustees do hereby covenant with one another to:
• talk to each other
• be kind and authentic
• listen deeply
• give all members present time to process information before responding
• assume the best of each other
• be knowledgeable of foundational documents of the church
• learn together
• build relationships with one another
• serve the community inside and outside the church together
Mindful of our respective roles as leader of the congregation and fiduciary guardians, we, the Board of Trustees do hereby covenant with the congregation to:
• communicate decisions and policies to the congregation
• listen deeply to the congregations concerns
• provide advice and counsel to the committees of the board
• live up to the Covenant of Respectful Relations
• manage the finances of the church in a conservative and responsible way
• encourage growth and change
• work to expand the membership of the congregation
• maintain, clarify and communicate the mission and vision of the congregation
Meet our Programs & Membership Coordinator, Elizabeth Corbett
Giving Up is a Prerogative of the Privileged
Hello to everyone! Many of you know me as I’ve been a member at Westside for over twenty years, but for those who don’t, I’ll tell you a bit about myself as a way of introduction.
I’m a good Connecticut Yankee, and I moved to Knoxville in 1992 after three years in Guatemala teaching English. I’ve taught at many places in and around Knoxville, with the last fifteen or so at Lenoir City High, teaching English as a Second Language. I left in August 2020 because I was not happy with the school’s COVID policies. So for the last two years I’ve spent a lot of time trying to create purpose and meaning to my days. In some respects leaving teaching at that time and not being able to do much (because many organizations were still closed to volunteers) was a maddening experience (I like to be busy), but it was also a surprise gift because I couldn’t immediately jump into a thousand different things without much thought. So here I am two years later and my days are full and meaningful: I tutor some Italian men at a tile plant in Loudon (and I’m learning Italian on Duolingo), I work with a few Hispanic families and students in Lenoir City with my former colleague, and I volunteer with a fledgling nonprofit that’s trying to link immigrants, mental health clinicians, and lawyers. Plus I get tons of joy from swimming, biking, and running , doing my daily word puzzles, and being with my three special grandkids (children of a former student).
And, of course, I’m now Westside’s Membership Chair. Reverend Carol and the Office Administrator have helped me adjust to all the new tasks. Naturally, my main task is to increase membership! So, I’m reaching out to guests who sign our visitor cards and to Westsiders we haven’t seen in a while. As I keep learning, I’ll let you know in coming months what I’m doing and how you can help.
Finally, my title about privilege and giving up comes from (I think) Doug Muder who writes a blog called The Weekly Sift. He sometimes appears in UU World as a guest writer. But the quotation reminds me of both my privileges and of my responsibility to work for those without the very same privileges.
Elizabeth Corbett, Programs & Membership Coordinator