Communications, Again—Specifically the Monthly Newsletter
An early post laid out the communications issues that we deal with on staff. This post continues the conversation.
We have now converted our monthly newsletter to an electronic format and created a one-page UUCA Communique that we mail to our non-electronic members and friends (about 20). Unfortunately, I think this was one of those things that “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
The electronic version of the monthly newsletter does in fact accomplish what we set out to do. It’s much more reader-friendly on a computer or smaller device, it takes much less time to lay out than the print version did, and it does not require strict word limits for articles. However, it has one fatal flaw: it reads exactly like a weekly enews edition WITH a month’s-worth of sermon titles and 4 columns. And that causes its own set of problems.
First of all (because it’s all about me, right?), it is a completely aggravating experience to proofread both the monthly newsletter and the weekly enews because 1) they are extremely redundant and yet 2) are created by two different staff members so that edits I have made in one do not carry to the other. Let’s just say it’s not fun to make the exact same changes to the same announcement twice. (I edit them because I am here and because I have a good overview of what’s going on and can therefore add to or shorten an article intelligently.) Second, we have hopelessly confused all the folks who submit articles to us. Now no one knows who creates the monthly newsletter (Jules), who creates the enews (Tish) and what differences they should make to their announcements for each outlet (none of us seems to be clear on that).
But, most important of all, there is no reason to have two of the same set of announcements available electronically if they both are accessible on the website (and then printed for the order of service besides). So, here’s a proposal for your comment:
- Maintain the weekly enews and the insert to the order of service. (Remember that this also gets posted to the website so the current and past editions are always available for reference.)
- Discontinue the monthly newsletter.
- Add a “calendar” page to the lifespan religious education website area that reproduces what has been available in the monthly newsletter.
- Create a new “post” page on the website that will feature a new column each week by one of our four column writers (Mark, Lisa, Joy and Board Chair Jane Bramham). Each enews will link to the newest column. And as a bonus, these columns will allow for reader comments.
- Recruit a volunteer* to create the monthly UUCA Communique printed piece for mailing and foyer rack placement (no luck finding this person yet).
What do YOU think about this latest proposal?
* Remember that Jules has reduced her work hours to 30 per week, so replacing her with this one volunteer job and having Tish create the enews should help her fit her other work into the allotted hours. Jules’ reduction in work hours also has the happy side effect of reducing our personnel costs a bit.
Ten Weddings and a Funeral
Yesterday was an awesome, awesome day at UUCA! (And technically it was a memorial service, not a funeral, but “Ten Weddings and a Memorial Service” doesn’t sound nearly as good, right?) Here are just some of the amazing things that I witnessed (more or less in chronological order):
- A boatload of volunteers at UUCA by 9:15am (many were much earlier) scurrying around hither and yon to get the place ready for weddings. We had members posted outside to greet and lead visitors into the building while watching for possible protesters (we had none). We had a welcome table set up and staffed to sign up couples for weddings with 6 ministers available to conduct services (Revs. Mark Ward, Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Sarah York, Sally Beth Shore, Diana Ritola and Pete Tolleson). We had a large and skilled hospitality team to set up tables, flowers, punch, sparkly grape juice, coffee and an amazing number of donated sugar-infested treats (“What’s a wedding without cake?” is clearly a UU motto). We had an event photographer (look for photos online as soon as Jules gets back to the office later this week). We had escorts for our couples so they could meet with their officiant and make it to the wedding on time.
- Large and extended applause all around when Carol Taylor and Betty Mack walked in for their wedding. More than 50 people in attendance at the first wedding of the day. Congrats Betty and Carol! Mark’s emphatic delivery of the line, “By virtue of the authority vested in my by the STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA!” accompanied by the verbal notation that he had waited a long time to say that.
- And then, the weddings of strangers. Well, not strangers anymore because we were allowed the privilege of witnessing incredibly touching moments in each and every ceremony. Our crew of ministers did a truly lovely job of personalizing the “standard” service they each had for their use. Although they often had no more than 20 minutes to speak with the couple, they were able to weave in personal references so that the ceremonies were not only more meaningful to the couples but those witnessing the event might know something about these brides and grooms as well.
- Clouds of witnesses. Now this phrase may not have been used in this context in its original appearance, but it does a great job of describing how I felt as part of a group that would move from one wedding to the next, so that each wedding not only had an officiant and the required 2 witnesses, but a group of people who could be touched, applaud and celebrate each ceremony.
A MEMORIAL SERVICE Then, right in the middle of these festivities, we sent the wedding celebrations to the RE Commons and made space to celebrate the life of Marylee Davis. This was a small service, but I think we did a nice job of making space for this more somber occasion and for the family members and friends who attended. Mark officiated at this service.
- While the Sanctuary was unavailable for weddings, we offered outdoor weddings to couples. The somewhat gloomy morning had become a lovely, breezy sunny afternoon! Turns out we have two or three spaces on campus that are wedding-ceremony-friendly.
- Over the day, the number of volunteers at hand waxed and waned as people had other commitments, but as the afternoon progressed, more and more people were arriving as some folks were able to leave work early, some folks picked up their kids from school and brought them along, and the energy on the campus ramped up again. I can only say you shoulda been there!
- The last wedding of the day was sort of a mirror image of the first one. Although it was completely unplanned, our first and last weddings of the day were UUCA members.
- Large and extended applause accompanied the arrival of Pete Tolleson and Ronnie Marable when they walked in for their 5:00pm wedding. Ronnie’s (or Pete’s–mixed information on that) granddaughters were there to act as flower girl and ringbearer, and this too was a lovely service, very different from Carol and Betty’s, but no less touching. This wedding was also conducted by Mark.
- A cake cutting. As previously mentioned, our supply of cake items overfloweth. So, near the end of the day we realized we had one more cake that hadn’t been put out yet. Well, what better use of that than to have Pete & Ronnie cut the cake? It was one more natural-yet-surprising moment in a day that was full of them.
AND THE FINISH
- As clean-up started, UUCA members and their families were relaxing at tables, David Ray was playing guitar, little kids were doing what little kids do, and everyone seemed just a little reluctant to leave. It was a great day, for our couples, for North Carolina for heaven’s sake, and for UUCA.
- Oh, and what about that over abundance of cakes and cupcakes? We know that one cupcake supply was taken to Room in the Inn and we made a significantly larger donation to the VA hospital. Doesn’t everyone need cake?
Five Happy Things (audio)
Todd & Meg Hoke, Guest Speakers
Each of us struggles with difficult passages in our lives. In more than 25 years working in end-of-life care, Todd and Meg Hoke have worked through a process to help us find the positive even amidst sadness and pian. Meg is Clinical Service Manager for Hospice of the Carolina Foothills and Todd is a nurse at Elizabeth House, a hospice in Hendersonville.