Leadership Path Development in Congregations Webinar, Feb 11, 6:30, 23 Edwin Parlor

We’ll be watching this webinar at 23 Edwin tomorrow night.  You’re invited to join us.  Bring snacks if you like that sort of thing.  Here’s the promo from the UUA:
Leadership Development and Recruitment are often difficult in congregations who always seem to have too many jobs and not enough energy. During this webinar, we will explore solutions that include setting goals for your Lifespan Faith Development Program that naturally grow leaders in the congregation, inviting more diverse and inclusive leadership, and cultivating a culture of leadership development that hinges on servant leadership and the celebration of those who have served.
Childcare available!! Just come!

Help Wanted: Test Out Our New Website This Week

Ta-da! This new website has just gone “live.”  We’re sort of doing a soft opening so we can work out kinks before the big grand opening.  However, it IS the only website we have so anyone that looks us up for whatever reason from now on ends up here.

Here are a few things you can do to help out: Pretend you are a person using the internet to scout us out before attending.  Can you find out what you want to know? Tell us all about it!

How hard was it to find answers to these questions?  If it was hard, was it important to find it? Tell me anything that you think we should know about the site.  (This is not a test–I know the answers so no need to report them back.  The point is if you wanted to find the answer, could you?)

  • I am running an event that will be collecting money.  How do I do that?
  • I have a 5-year old.  What’s the Sunday School like?  What do we do when we get to UUCA for the first time?
  • Do you have a choir?  How do I audition?
  • Who can be interred in the Memorial Garden?  How can I make it happen?
  • I need to get on Realm.  
  • I am looking to rent a room for a meeting.  Do you rent rooms?
  • Are there any adult faith development classes coming up?
  • What does the ECC do?
  • What’s this month’s theme?
  • I want to make a donation.
  • I want to nominate a group for our Community Plate.  How do I do that?
  • I need to know who is on the RE Council.  Where do I look?
  • Who’s in the pulpit this week?
  • I missed last week’s sermon.  Can I find it online?
  • I want to re-read the description of the thing I bought at the Auction.  Can I do that?

Well, that’s enough for now.  Send me your results, comments, thoughts, etc.  Be kind, though, because we DID try hard to get things right.

Linda

Need Your Help for Photo Sessions

Sign-ups for our photo sessions that start next week are lagging so we need your help! We have about 400 families at UUCA and only 100 have signed up. This is not good enough!! A photo directory with 1/4 of the congregation in it is not so helpful. Here’s what I need from you:

>>Please sign up for a photo session (it’s free + you get a printed directory and 8×10 photo for free, too). Please sign up for next week if you can. There’s a psychology to this; week 2 will fill if week 1 creates a good buzz.

>>Please remind your UUCA friends to sign up, too! This is only going to be a useful document if we have great representation. I’m wanting to get 250 or more. We’re at 100. Go out and recruit!!!

>>More optionally, if you have the time, please sign up for a couple of hours of greeting. It’s nice to have a church member greeting folks as they arrive for the photo sessions.

Now go, sign up now and recruit your friends!

Leaders Need to Know

Welcome back to a new church year! I am horrified to discover that I never made use of this communications tool all of last year! That is wrong and I hope to do much better this year.

We have information that UUCA leaders need to know about, so it’s time to review it (or introduce it, depending on your tenure). First off, use the website! There is actually a tab on the website called “Leaders Need to Know.” Catchy name, right? It’s under the home page’s tab, “For Members.”

When you get there, you’ll find all manner of helpful info. There’s a listing of all the leaders of the congregation. There’s a “check request form” that you need to get reimbursed for purchases. There are helpful instructions on how to schedule a room, or submit an eNews article, or what to do with money you collect. It’s all there!

There’s also a workshop you can attend to learn more about how things get decided here at UUCA:

Join the Leadership Development Committee on Saturday morning, September 28, 9:30-noon, for a UUCA Leader’s Workshop.

Are you interested in learning more about leadership in churches without leaving the comfort of your own home? There are many, many “classes” you can access through the UUA website. Visit the UUA’s Leader Lab or see the UUA Leadership Institute’s listing of classes, both scheduled and on demand. Remember that you can always apply for a UUCA scholarship to “attend” any UU-related leadership class or workshop.

Picnics, Workshops, Meetings, Wednesdays, Auction–YIKES!

I wrote a post on Tuesday, but things did not go so well. The post was messed up and so were the outgoing email notifications. It was about this past week’s Wednesday thing which is now over.  So don’t worry about.  Here’s what you need to know now.

There is a WHOLE LOT of stuff going on at UUCA right now.  It’s hard for staff to keep up, let alone the “UUCAer-on-the-street.”  Here’s a quick summary.  Everything mentioned here has more information available online or in eNews articles (find past eNews’s on our website).  Please help your friends to be informed.

Picnic, September 17, 4-8pm – We reserved Weaver Park for an activity that’s now happening elsewhere.  But we have the park so we may as well have a picnic.  Just show up!

Workshops – There are 11(!) possible choices for you to join in on the conversation about UUCA’s mission and ends.  We have to FOCUS, people!  Sign up for a LOV Project workshop.  Results of this work will be presented at the Congregational Meeting on October 29 at 4pm.

Meetings – Learn more about providing sanctuary to a person threatened with imminent deportation on September 28 at 6:30 from outside presenters and come to the Congregational Meeting on October 29 at 4pm to vote!

Wednesdays – Ask your friends about the Wednesday Thing.  We had a fabulous night this week with more than 60 people joining in the various activities.  We start with a $5 meal every Wednesday!

Auction – “The Things You Do” is a party, an auction, AND a dance on November 11 at The Asheville Event Centre, 5-8 pm.  What we need right now are DONATIONS!!!  The more things we sell, the more funds we raise.

The Wednesday Thing and REALM

Tomorrow night is the first Wednesday Thing but it’s just the first.  We’re doing it EVERY WEDNESDAY.  Get here at 5:30 to eat ($5 per person, $20 maximum per family), stay for the vespers service at 6:00, and then dabble in whatever activities are offered, beginning at 6:30.  There will always be something for everyone, often multigenerational, occasionally, um, unigenerational(?).  (You know, kids and adults apart.)  Leave when you need to.  Child care for little ones (6 and under) starts at 6:00.

Anyway, I need help from you leaders.  MANY of our congregants are not on REALM yet. REALM replaces MY INFO so unless you’re on REALM you will have no way to find your friends’ contact information  or your own giving information.  We have all the data from MY INFO, but it’s important that everyone signs on to REALM because frankly we just don’t have time to answer everyone’s calls and emails for contact or giving information.

PLEASE, please tell your friends (I’m not saying YOU are not on REALM–it’s just your friends) to sign in to the system.  Everyone who has not signed in yet received an email from me today, and will get one with a link tomorrow (from onrealm.org) that they can use to sign in.  ANYONE needing help can come to the REALM-Help Room during the Wednesday Things.

Wake Now Our Vision Legacy Challenge; An Amazing Opportunity

By now I hope it’s registered in your brain that we have a literally once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get “free money!” as Rev. Lisa put it on Sunday morning.

UUCA is a pilot congregation for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s new Wake Now Our Vision Legacy Challenge, which will award up to $5 million in challenge grants to congregations who receive planned gift commitments in 2017 or 2018.  Matching money will be given to planned gift commitments to UUCA and/or other major UU institutions, including the UUA, the UU Service Committee, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Starr King School for the Ministry or the UU Ministers Association.

Legacy gift intentions made between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018 will qualify for a 10% match, up to $10,000.  And the very best part is that the matching money will be distributed to congregations in 2019 as unrestricted money!  Woo hoo – it doesn’t get any better than THAT, does it?  We get money TWICE!!!  The matching money will come to us in 2019 and we will get your planned gift–uh, upon your demise (how to put that more graciously?–hmmmm).

How Can You Learn More?  A special UUA informational event on the Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, April 8.  The session begins with lunch at 12:00 followed by a 1:00-3:00  presentation.  Rev. Laura Randall, UUA’s Legacy Challenge Director, will be here at UUCA for a regional workshop.  We’d like to have you join us for an opportunity to learn about the Wake Now Our Vision  Legacy Challenge and ideas on how to give to UUCA and reduce your taxes.  Many more details will be made available on April 8 so your attendance is encouraged.  And did you see that?  It’s a free lunch, too!  (Gotta love this program!)

To reserve your space, please let Laura Randall (617-948-6511, lrandall@uua.org) know you would like to attend by March 27.

If you can’t join us on April 8, then members of the Legacy Circle Committee plan to host information sessions after the 9:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. services, too.  We really, really want you to have all the information you need!

We hope you are as excited as we are about this opportunity and help us take full advantage of the $5 million challenge grant.  Feel free to contact members of the UUCA Legacy Circle Committee with questions, and register as soon as you can for the April 8th presentation.

UUCA Legacy Circle Committee:

Beverly Cutter, 296-1047, beverlycutter123@gmail.com
Jill Preyer, 505-2633, jillpreyer@gmail.com
Mara Sprain, 654-0551, mara_sprain@yahoo.com
Stan Nachman, 299-0425, stanzibar444114@charter.net
Mike Horak, 687-9514, mikeandlisahorak@gmail.com

Please Bring a Friend Who Needs Us Now

Please Bring a Friend Who Needs Us Now

We have welcomed dozens of visitors in the last two weeks. People are looking for community and solidarity now, and are grateful for the chance to be together in a congregational setting. Our songs and worship, our prayerful moments and meditations, our rituals and our shared covenant are fortifying and sustaining to many–some who may not even know a church like this exists. Who in your life might be held and strengthened by our faith and fellowship now? Share your faith. Speak up about the ways this congregation and your involvement in it adds value to your life. Invite them to join us.

Remember that we were made for these times. This is what we as a community of faith are called to do and can do better than any other institution in the post-modern age.

If you attend regularly, you likely already know how that supports you in your daily life and work. But know too that you are a dependable blessing to others and you help create the familiar faces and fellowship this community offers.

Attend occasionally? How could adding another Sunday or two of church and all it provides sustain your whole family now? Consider joining us to find out. 

Considering coming back? There is no time like the present to make your presence felt. If you feel called to show up, we are ready to welcome you, every Sunday. We are still here; it’s what we do.

This piece was written by Joy Berry, our Lifespan Religious Education Director for last week’s Religious Education Weekly eNews.  I didn’t want you to miss it!

Naming Our Core Values

Experiences of “the Holy”

The Board of Trustees needs your help.  Those good folks need for you to attend any one-hour session of workshops they are holding from now through November, and they need you to bring along your UUCA friends.

We need as many of our members and friends as possible to participate in a process to name the values of this faith community.  Sure, we are Unitarian Universalists and our CHURCH has agreed that as a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association the church affirms and promotes the principles and sources that we know so well.  But these principles are not exactly “values.” (You’ll learn more about that at the workshop.)

We want to distill the values we hold individually into a set of 4 or 5 that are common to most of the congregation.  Those values will then be used to re-write a mission statement that will be more of a call to action than our current one (but that’s for a later time).

For now, please pick one of the workshops and attend.  I’ve done it and it’s not only painless, but gosh darn, it was even interesting and fun.  And I know one more UUCAer better now than I did before I attended.

Choose ONE and attend! (NOTE: no registration needed except for childcare.)

Sunday, October 23, 11:15am-12:30pm: 23 Edwin Boardroom
Sunday, November 6, 9:15-10:15am: 23 Edwin Parlor. Childcare-RE for all ages
Thursday, November 10, 1:30-2:30pm: Sandburg Hall. Childcare-RSVP Kim by Oct 27
Sunday, November 13, 11:15am-12:30pm: Jefferson House (21 Edwin Place)
Sunday, November 13, 12:45-1:45pm: Sanctuary. Childcare-RSVP Kim by October 30
Tuesday, November 15, 6:30-7:30pm: RE Commons. Childcare-RSVP Kim by Nov 1

Experience the Holy

exp-the-holyThere is no power equal to a community discovering what it cares about . . .

  • Margaret Wheatley

EXPERIENCE OF THE HOLY

During November the Board of Trustees will be holding a series of workshops asking –

What timeless, transcendent qualities of our religious community will we embody in all we do?

Our goal is to identify our congregation’s core values – what Mark often refers to as the burning ember at our center. Having that conversation is a process we are calling Experience of the Holy – holy as what we value most.

Values are the foundation of our covenant, of the promises we make to each other. Our shared values are what we endeavor to make real in our congregation and in the world.

We have a strong mission and Ends, a strong sense of what difference we’re in the world to make and for which people, but we’ve never had an explicit conversation together about the values that inform our sense of purpose, the values that provide the underpinning to everything we do in the congregation.

The Board felt it was time to explore and articulate the values that provide the touchstone for everything we do together as a congregation.

The workshop process will tap into people’s real, lived experiences and uncover the values embedded in those experiences and how they connect us as a community. From the information shared in the workshops, the board will discern and articulate no more than five words or very short phrases that capture what timeless, transcendent qualities embody all we do. And, of course, share the results with the congregation.

Attend any of the one-hour workshops and shape our future.

by Kay Aler-Maida, UUCA Board President

Getting Better at Planning and Measuring, One Step at a Time

OK, I have to talk about “policy governance” here for a bit, but KEEP READING! 

A brief refresher for our newest leaders:  the Board works to discern the will of the congregation and writes Ends Statements that give direction for our ministries and programming.  The Executive (Rev. Mark Ward) takes those Ends Statements, writes a few paragraphs about what he thinks they mean “in action” and then works with staff who work with volunteers to move the congregation toward the Ends Statements.  The Executive is then evaluated on the achievement of the Ends.

This year, the Board suggested that the Executive choose a small subset of the Ends to work on and then propose measurable goals for them.  That way, by next June, we ought to be able to see if we’ve met those goals.   It’s a very sensible way to organize an institution, but it’s not easy.

Here is the Executive’s 2016-17 WORK PLAN FOR ACHIEVING ENDS:

ENDS:

“We will embrace principles, values and practices which explore the sacred in the world and the mystery of existence.”

“We will gather together in worship which guides and sustains our individual and communal response to the sacred through multifaceted creative, artistic, and musical experiences.”

Our chief goal in this area is to more deeply integrate families in the worship & spiritual life of the congregation.

What we will measure and plan (hope?) to report to the Board next summer:

  1. 30% of registered families will be present in Sunday worship at least twice a month.
  2. The lead minister will report that at least 50 children or youth had roles in Sunday worship at some time during the regular worship year.
  3. The director of lifespan religious education will report that at least 10 UUCA families have developed family spiritual practices at home.
  4. At least 4 parents of children in religious education will have given statements in worship about why this congregation is important to them.
  5. We will hold 6 planned multigenerational activities during the year at which at least 8 children and 4 adults participate.

END:

“Congregants will feel welcome and connected with each other”

Our chief goal in this area is to improve retention of UUCA members.

What we will measure and plan (hope?) to report to the Board next summer:

  1. 75% of congregants interviewed at each stage of the Connection process – visitors entering new member classes, those contacted after their first year & those contacted after three years at UUCA, will report that they feel welcomed and connected to the congregation.
  2. 66% of new members will report being involved in some activity of the congregation within six months of joining.
  3. 50% of members contacted after their first year will report being currently involved in some activity of the congregation.
  4. 33% of members contacted after three years at UUCA will report being currently involved in some activity of the congregation.

END:

We will act meaningfully and visibly in community service, advocacy, and education.”

Our chief goal in this area is to broaden meaningful participation in the Social Justice ministry of the congregation.

What we will measure and plan (hope?) to report to the Board next summer:

  1. At least 150 congregants will participate in the Just Change workshop.
  2. At least 150 congregants will take part in programs arising from the Just Change workshop.
  3. At least 25% of congregants will have reported some activity during this church year to broaden their understanding or awareness of racism.
  4. At least 25% of congregants will participate in service, advocacy and education outside of the congregation.

Black Lives Matter Educational Materials for Your Group

UUCA’s ARGA Team (Anti-Racism Group Action) is leading the congregation in following through on our recent Congregational Resolution that clearly and firmly states that we are committed, all of us, to educating ourselves about and deepening our understanding of white privilege and oppressive systems.  To this end, they have developed a packet of materials that all of us can use to do this work, inch by inch, meeting by meeting, conversation by conversation.  This packet is posted on our website.  (Use the search term “Black Lives Matter” in our website’s search box if you don’t have the link handy.)

Are you in a covenant, theme, or other kind of connections group at UUCA? As you share of yourselves and your experiences, how can you bring themes and messages of the Black Lives Matter movement into your conversations? Are you on a committee focused on an Earth or Social Justice area other than anti-racism? We are learning more and more about the intersectionality of justice work. How can you bring the work you are doing into conversation with the Black Lives Matter movement?

We hope you will take seriously our congregation’s commitment.  Now is the time–for ourselves, our congregation, our city, and our nation.

UUCA-Based Leadership Training

“How Is Being A UU Leader Different From Being A Leader in the Business or Non-Profit World?” UUCA’s own Leadership Development Committee is presenting this workshop on Sunday, February 28th from 4 to 6 PM in the RE Commons.

We want you to come!  Whether you are interested in leadership positions at UUCA now or just want to plan ahead for that time when you ARE ready, we would love to have you attend.  One of the best ways we can plan for a bright and happy future for UUCA is to continually find new leaders.  The Leadership Development Committee is assigned the role of keeping developing leaders “in the pipeline” so that we are not in the position of looking for “warm bodies” at the last minute as we fill extraordinarily important positions at UUCA such as board members, finance advisory members, lifespan religious education leaders and others.

We shall bribe you with food!  Pizza and salad will be served. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to uuca.ldc@gmail.com by February 21.

The Greenville, SC Workshop Has Been Rescheduled

From Mark:  Please note that Connie Goodbread’s workshop, which got cancelled because of the snow storm, has been rescheduled for March 19, a day that, thankfully, works much better for us. I see no events on the UUCA calendar that conflict with it. We haven’t had many opportunities to interact with other UUs in our area for a while and this event has the advantage of being within easy driving distance and led by a first-class facilitator. I recommend promoting it among UUCA leaders or up-and-coming candidates for leadership.

CONFLICT, CHANGE, COVENANT & COMMUNITY: A Workshop for Congregational Leaders

Where: Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1135 State Park Road, Greenville, SC 29609

When: Saturday, March 19, 2016,  10AM-4PM

 Registration: $15 per participant, includes light morning snacks and lunch.  Registration Closes on March 13

Fees are payable online at Eventbrite Payment Linkby check (made to GUUF), or at the door.  Contact Kathleen Anderson, dre@greenvilleuu.org to register. Please include your name, congregation, and food preferences (omnivore-vegetarian-vegan). Kathleen will reply with confirmation.

A Daylong Workshop for Congregational Leaders

We have received notice that the Greenville, SC Fellowship is hosting a workshop by Connie Goodbread of the UUA Southern Region on Saturday, January 23, 9am to 3pm.

At our senior staff meeting this morning, Mark, Lisa, Joy and I agreed that we’d love to see many of our leaders attend this event.  We think Connie Goodbread is a terrific workshop leader and we think the topic, “Conflict, Change and Community” hits all the buttons that we (and nearly every other congregation in the country) are dealing with.

Click here to see a description of the workshop and a short bio of Connie Goodbread on EventBrite.  This is also the gateway to paying your registration fee.

Although the price is low, if you can’t afford it, UUCA will cover the cost with a scholarship (apply through the scholarship application form on our website).

Please consider attending!

WHAT:  Conflict, Change & Community: A Daylong Workshop for     Congregational Leaders

WHERE:  Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1135 State Park Road, Greenville, SC  29609

WHEN:  Saturday, January 23, 2016, 9am-3pm

Contact Kathleen Anderson at dre@greenvilleuu.org to register, use the EventBrite link to pay. (Fees are payable online at Eventbrite, by check (made to GUUF), or at the door.)

Registration BEFORE January 10 is $15 per participant; late registration will be $25.

 

 

Introducing the New Fundraising Policy

When UUCA began giving away every Sunday collection to Share-the-Plate recipients last year, we essentially began a year-round “ask” for money from our congregants.  Nearly everyone is in favor of this community support program, but it drastically changes the “giving pressures” on congregants. Consequently, UUCA’s senior staff believes that we need to be much more thoughtful about how and when additional fundraisers occur, especially since we also regularly not only ask for a commitment to the annual operating budget (essential for planning!), but we also supplement the money people pay to their commitments with an auction, a used-book sale, Mountain Spirit Coffeehouse, the holiday craft fair and a few other contributors to the annual operating budget.

As a result, a new fundraising policy has been created to reflect the changing needs of the congregation. The old policy basically said, “Check with the Board of Trustees” if you want to initiate a fundraiser.  The new policy is a bit more nuanced, explanatory and, we hope, helpful.

What Should I Do?

Now that the new policy is in effect, each group within the congregation that does fundraising for outside organizations needs to take some time to assess your existing and potential fundraisers. We suggest that you read the new policy, ask questions, and think about what you want to do moving forward. Is your recipient a candidate for Share-the-Plate? The bottom line is that we will not be able to do every single one of the fundraisers we’ve done in the past, but we have an opportunity to be more intentional about the choices we make. Your staff liaison is available to help facilitate this conversation if it would be helpful.  (Remember that each committee and group in the church is “attached” to a senior staff member; Rev. Mark Ward, Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Joy Berry or Linda Topp.)

Ultimately, the goal is to effectively use any funds we collect to support outside organizations (although we’d prefer supporting organizations with our time and talent rather than our money) while at the same time focusing our efforts so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by unrelenting requests for donations at UUCA.

General Information about UUCA Policies

Here’s a little review about UUCA policies in general:  There are two levels of policies that affect the workings of the congregation.  The first set is the “policies of the Board,” and they take the form of the Governance Document.  The Board has no other policies.  All the rest of the policies of the congregation come from the Executive.  The Governance Document states that the Executive needs to “Insure that a complete and current set of Congregational policies is readily accessible to all members of the Congregation.”  Despite all best efforts, that “complete and current set of Congregational policies” does not yet exist.  Ever since we switched to policy governance, the policies that existed before then became out of kilter with the new way of doing things.  However, though it’s been three years since we switched, the “policy project” has not been completed.  Last year I put together a Policy Team to address this situation, but just as we were getting started, the Welcome Project started and ALL of my time has been consumed by my regular work duties PLUS Welcome Project duties.  However, when the need has arisen, we have updated a few of the “old” policies.   They include the Facilities Rental policy, the Inclement Weather policy, the Gift Acceptance Policy, the Naming Policy and now the Fundraising policy.  All can be found linked off of the Board of Trustees page on our website.

Spirit Play Needs You—Truly

As you may recall, last spring the RE Committee announced a new way to offer Spirit Play to our kindergarten-5th graders.  The Spirit Play curriculum is already an outstandingly interactive, age-appropriate, fun way to encourage faith development in our youngest UUs and the new plan seemed to make it even better by being able to allocate resources differently while giving kids the opportunity to interact in mixed-age groups.  However……

As an experimental year, almost everything is good. The stories are always interesting and the times for activities, be they art, drama, dance, contemplation or science, are a wonder to behold.  Early on, we noticed that the second service 4th and 5th graders were not engaging properly.  We had a most amazing offer from Anna Olsen who offered to lead a separate class for these young ‘uns who are now prospering in their self-named class, District 45.

Here’s the part where we need YOU!  At its inception, using “activity rooms” as way to do Spirit Play was new so it was not obvious how to recruit teachers/helpers for the various adult roles needed each Sunday.  Everyone hoped that with a shorter-term commitment, it would be easy to fill the slots.  Turns out that our hopes did not become our reality.  So, for the rest of this year, WE NEED SPIRIT PLAY ADULTS!!!

If each person reading this gave up three Sunday worship services from now through mid-May to instead give their time to UU children, all the teaching and helping slots would be filled, and then some.  Joy, Jen and Kim (our lifespan religious education staff) absolutely cannot do it all.  In fact, they shouldn’t be doing it at all.  These are our children, this is our congregation, and we proclaim that “children are important.”  If you believe that, then you must also believe that these children are important to you, and that you need to be part of a solution to a problem that we think we can mend next year.  But for the remainder of this year, please contact Joy right now to tell her you are willing to lead (they have advice and resources available) or at least be the second person in the room for three Sundays (or two, or one if that’s all you’ve got).

Your congregation has a very specific, immediate need for your time and talent.  Please take this opportunity to live your values.

Visioning for the Future:  Lifespan Religious Education at UUCA

An extremely important UUCA workshop for Congregational Leaders

Friday, February 27 5:00-8:00 pm and Saturday, February 28  9:00 am–3:00 pm

Generally speaking, it’s always good to set a destination before you set off on your journey.  Now that our new Director of Lifespan Religious Education has gotten the lay of the land here at UUCA, it’s time to help Joy Berry set the future direction of all the educational programs we provide for adults, youth and children.  We urge you to join in on this important opportunity to talk about the ministry of religious education and faith development at UUCA.

The UUA has consultants to help out with these types of workshops and sure enough, our Visioning weekend will be led by Kathy McGowan, a Congregational Life Staff member of the Southern Region.  Because lifespan religious education is such a vital piece of a UU congregation—what Rev. William Sinkford, former UUA President and current minister of one of our largest congregations, called the engine of new growth in our churches and what many of us understand to be the place where faith formation most concretely occurs—we need YOU to be in on the conversation.  This work is covenantal in nature, and so we are inviting all who have an interest in religious education and faith formation to attend—lay leaders, board members, parents, elders, teachers, and youth are especially invited.

As you know, our Board is working this year to discern again the future of UUCA, so too, this lifespan religious education visioning process needs your voice to help shape the future of UUCA.  During this time, we will share our knowledge of the history of RE at UUCA and look to the future as we envision the program of faith formation that we will work together to create. We will consider expectations of the congregation and outline mutual hopes for the future of the program.  A Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education invites us to place lifespan religious education and faith development at the center and heart of congregational life.

Here is a rough schedule of what’s planned:

Friday night, 5pm-8pm: It’s a Potluck History Party!!

All are invited to a church-wide potluck in RE Commons. We will start a conversation about “where do we come from;” a bit of the history of lifespan religious education at UUCA.  It would be very nice if people who actually had some historical knowledge of our congregation showed up!

Childcare will be provided – RSVP to cyc@uuasheville.org with ages of kids.

Saturday, 9am-3pm: On to the Future!!

Everyone in attendance—congregational leaders (that’s you) and board, RE committee members, RE staff, ministers, youth, members, friends—everyone who is passionate about the ministry of religious education and faith development will gather to set the course for the best, most meaningful faith formation/religious education program UUCA has ever known!

Lunch will be catered, childcare will be provided.  RSVP to dlre@uuasheville.org for lunch, cyc@uuasheville.org for childcare (specify ages please).

Y’all come!

Staffing for Growth

There is an excellent presentation on YouTube by Rev. Scott Tayler, UUA Director of Congregational Life, and Mark Bernstein, Growth Consultant, CERG (Central East Regional Group of the UUA covering most of OH and WV, all of NY and parts of PA and NJ) addressing  four organizing models for multi-site ministries.  The video is embedded at the bottom of this posting.

Aside from the clarity Scott and Mark bring to the idea of multi-site churches (four variations of how some functions can be centralized to provide support to geographically separate congregations), they describe the reasons why multi-site ministries are starting to spring up.

They first make a case for “staffing for growth.”  Here is their premise (these are well-known figures):

  • Staffing for decline = one program staff person per 200 congregants
  • Staffing for maintenance = one program staff person per 150 congregants
  • Staffing for growth = one program staff person per 100 congregants

I would contend that in our case, “congregants” are our members, friends, children and youth—all people who benefit from programs at UUCA.  So, the numbers for UUCA:

  • Number of members and friends and children and youth: 800
  • Number of program staff (full-time equivalent): 4.75   [Mark (1), Lisa (1), Milt (0.5), Joy (1), Nick (1), Jen (0.25)]

UUCA has one program staff person for every 168 members, meaning that we are staffed for something between maintenance and decline.

They then go on to explain the budget pressures that congregations are experiencing that make it impossible to staff for growth:

  • Rising health care costs
  • Building maintenance requirements
  • Financial responsibility resulting from our covenantal relationship with the UUA (the Southern Region’s GIFT (Generously Investing for Tomorrow) program)
  • Moral responsibility to fairly compensate staff
  • Rising energy costs (currently not a factor)

So, if it is impossible to staff for growth, how do we currently handle the growth we experience every year, the 30-40 newcomers who become members and friends of UUCA each year?  Right now, we simply lose the equivalent number each year, maintaining our membership number but literally not growing.  We are staffed for maintaining, and maintaining is what we do.

Whether we choose to use a multi-site ministry to help address this remains to be seen.  I just thought it was fascinating.  Here are some “wonder questions” we might ask.

  1. How might staffing for decline look at UUCA?  What might you see happening as a result of not having enough staff to oversee programs?  (This is different from administrative staff needed to keep the organization going.)
  2. How might staffing for maintenance look?  What might you see happening as a result of having just enough program staff hours to keep up with the existing programs?
  3. How might staffing for growth look?  What might you see happening as a result of having staff members with plenty of time to create and oversee programs?
  4. What could we accomplish if we were able to grow beyond 700 members/friends to, let’s say 800?
  5. What are some reasons we might want to stay just the size we are?

Here’s that YouTube video about multi-site congregations:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygJ99CZByqY&w=420&h=315]

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):

WEDDINGS!

  • 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.

Carol & Betty   Congregants

  • 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.

MORE WEDDINGS

  • 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?

What Training Do You Need?

It’s the start of a new worship year.  That means we have some committees with new leaders and some committees with new members.  Many of you know exactly what to do because you’ve been doing it for years–others of you, not so much.  The administrative staff has much useful information posted on our website, at For Members/Leaders Need to Know.  There you can find out how and when to submit newsletter and enews articles, how to handle money, both outgoing and incoming, and how to schedule meeting space.  Our objective is to make sure you have everything you need to do your job.  Do you?  What other information or training would you like to have?

How Do You Know That Stuff?

As in any organization, there are concentric rings of committed members. At UUCA (and at most religious institutions), we have 60-80 highly committed members in the center of our circle. These folks donate large amounts of time and money to Unitarian Universalism. They are our frequent volunteers. They are the folks who go to cluster, district and national UU events, and UU summer camps. They are many of our highest donors and they often also give to Chalice Lighter calls, separately to the UUA and often to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and maybe even the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), too.

 That’s a lot of UU involvement and it explains why these folks seem to know an awful lot about Unitarian Universalism, about the workings of the UUA, and have UU friends around the country if not around the world; generally they seem to know “what’s going on.” Well, what about the rest of us? How do I learn stuff without committing that much time?

Best answer: READ

Second best answer: PARTICIPATE

 Actually participating is better than reading, but if you don’t read stuff, you’re not going to know what opportunities are available for your participation; hence the number one ranking for READ.

 So, “What’s the minimum I need to read?” I hear you ask.

  • The UUCA Weekly Enews – ALL OF IT!! Every week! (You can cheat by just reading the Sunday order of service insert which is an extract (but not all) of the enews or you can cheat even more by reading the entire set of slides that run every Sunday in Sandburg Hall after the services.)
  • At least the Lead Minister’s column in the monthly newsletter
  • At least the “News” section of the quarterly magazine, UU World
  • Uh, well, you could read “News4Leaders” but if you made it this far I guess you already do. You get points for that!

Extra credit reading:

  • The other 3 columns in the monthly newsletter: Associate Minister, Lifespan Religious Education Director, Board President
  • Other articles in UU World, paying special attention to the authors’ names since they are often “players” in the UUA.
  • Subscribe and read the lead article of the Southern Region (UUA) e-newsletter. Scan the rest.
  • Join a UUA e-mailing list. These are posts written by UU members with special interests. Go here to see the list of choices.

OK, so what kind of participation are we talking about?

  • How about coming to worship most of the time? It’s amazing how much that helps keep you connected to what’s going on in the congregation.
  • Attend a non-UUCA UU event. (One very easy one would be the Cluster Gathering on October 18 here at UUCA. You might also check out the nearby Mountain Retreat Center for camps, retreats and even clean-up weekends.)

Extra credit participation:

  • Attend a UUA General Assembly, the big kahuna of UU events.

The rest of you UUCA leaders know stuff, too. What recommendations might you make to help turn new UU leaders into “old hands?”

Next Year’s Cool New Concept in Children’s RE

Have been having trouble making this blog work through Chrome.  Finally decided to try Firefox and here I am.  Expect a few more postings rather more quickly than my norm as I have a backlog of ideas!

A month or two ago, the RE Committee responded to survey results they had received from parents and made the rather courageous decision to change the way they conduct the RE classes for K-5 children. This past year (and many years prior), children were grouped by class level, with classrooms for K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. All three of these classes were following a similar curriculum called “Spirit Play.”

Here’s a description of Spirit Play:

We see the purpose of religious education as helping children in living into their own answers to the existential questions: Where did we come from? What are we doing here?  How do we choose to live our lives?  What happens when we die?

The classes follow a Montessori approach, the key elements being the prepared classroom environment and the teachers. These elements free the children to work at their own pace on their own issues after an initial lesson or story within a safe and sacred structure shepherded by two adults.

Montessori Philosophy:
Based in a proven educational method whose values support Unitarian Universalism:

  • Encourages independent thinking through wondering questions
  • Gives children real choices within the structure of the morning
  • Creates community of children in classroom of mixed ages
  • Develops an underlying sense of the spiritual and the mystery of life
  • Supports congregational polity through choice of lessons
  • Volunteers were found to value the program as part of their own spiritual process
  • Volunteers have commented on the low preparation time for weekly stories

Basically, the classroom experience starts with a story, using a story and props that have already been prepared for you. Following the story, children are invited to answer “wondering questions” and work on some activity that applies to the morning’s story.

At UUCA, the Religious Education Committee has decided to combine all children in grades K-5 to hear a single storyteller. In the model we’re trying, the storyteller would tell the same story two weeks in a row. Following the story, the children will then be asked to choose among 3 activities for the day. These activities come out of the interests and passions of our adult members (definitely not just parents with children in RE!). As Benette wrote, “We want you to lead a group of kids from the root of your passions, be it knitting, cooking, calculating, star-gazing, hiking, dancing, drawing, acting, singing, measuring or anything else.”

As a teacher or storyteller, you would get the story way ahead of time, you might ask for suggestions from Joy Berry, but you and a partner would be responsible for an activity. It sounds pretty cool to me. Please volunteer and coerce your UUCA friends to do the same. Volunteer RIGHT NOW by contacting the chair of the RE Committee, Suzanne Klonis.

Wide-Open Welcome

As you may have noticed, we have two complementary programs going on at the moment at UUCA.  We have the construction/fundraising program called “The Welcome Project” and a membership/connection program called “Wide-Open Welcome.”

Wide-Open Welcome describes the way we want to be as a community of people who are very happy that others have found their way to our doors.  We want to share our good news and reassure our guests that they have found a group of people who have chosen to covenant together to nurture our individual searches for meaning and work in community for freedom, justice and love.

Each and every person who is a part of this community has a role to play in the way we throw our doors wide – welcoming is an ongoing project that requires broad-based participation and constant engagement.  Last weekend, we had a very exciting and idea-filled Wide-Open Welcome workshop which helped to clarify the goals of our Sunday morning greeting process. We came up with lots of great ideas for how to be more consistent across the board, and most importantly, we introduced a new role: The Connector.  You will see Connectors roving in the Sanctuary and in Sandburg Hall in the weeks to come – they will be wearing large blue “Ask Me” buttons. They will be available to help Newcomers by answering questions and helping to (you guessed it) connect people with each other as well as resources & activities.

But whether you are an official Connector or not, you have a job!  No matter where you are in this building, no matter when you are here, it is everyone’s job to make a guest feel welcome. It’s not just staff job, it’s not just the job of your chairperson, it’s not the job of “someone else,” it’s your job.

This is true on Sunday mornings, too.  Because not everyone is a natural at small talk, here is some help provided by the Wide-Open Welcome Team.

Conversation Starters (to break the ice):

If you see someone with a Guest (handwritten) nametag OR anyone you do not know:

  •          “Hi! I don’t think I’ve met you before. I’m_______”
  •          “What brings you here today?”
  •          “Where are you from originally?”
  •          “Why did you select a Unitarian Universalist congregation to visit?”

If you see someone with a Newcomer (lavender) nametag:

  •          “Hi! I’m _____. I don’t think I’ve met you before. Have you recently started attending?”
  •          “How did you find out about UUCA originally?”
  •          “What do you think so far? Is there anything you are wondering about?”

Welcoming Questions (to better introduce newcomers to others)

Who are we welcoming? Listening is the most important way we can show our welcome:

  •           “Have you lived here long?” (where do you hail from?)
  •          “What do you do the rest of the week?”
  •          “Are there any questions I can answer for you?”
  •          “Tell me about yourself.”
  •          Don’t forget to share something of yourself & your UUCA experience.

How to End the Conversation without Ending the Welcome

Finishing up greeting a newcomer can be almost as hard as beginning. Suggestions:

  •          Lead them to the Welcome Table if they have not yet been there
  •          Introduce them to someone else, perhaps with something in common
  •          If they ask you a question you can’t answer, say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but perhaps _____ does. Let me introduce you.”
  •          Walk them to the coffee table
  • End your conversation with “I hope to see you again.”

Benefits of Signing In at the Welcome Table

  •          Weekly e-newsletter
  •          Guest Nametag, request a Newcomer Nametag
  •          Enrollment for Beginning Points
  •          UU and UUCA Questions Answered
  •          Connect with members during coffee & conversation (Connectors)
  •          Request more information from staff about programs

Hesitant Newcomers

The hesitant newcomer is someone who does not want to sign in at the Welcome Table or even get acquainted. They’re still trying to decide whether this community is one they want to get involved with. Instead they:

  •          Run out at the end of the service (but a quick hello-and-welcome may be tolerated)
  •          Don’t want to put on a Guest nametag (it’s an option, not a requirement)
  •          Don’t want to sign in at the Welcome Table (it’s okay to wait until they are ready to get more involved)

What We All Can Do to Welcome Newcomers

  •          Wear your nametag. It makes it easier to get to know people. Encourage others to wear theirs, or to sign up for a new one.
  •          Look for hand-written and lavender nametags. These are the people who want to meet YOU!

 

A Tale of Two Construction Projects

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times……  oh, sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Here’s information all well-informed members should have.  Pass it along, let your friends know, mention it in your meetings, whatever.  And be sure to tell them that all the information about the project, including the drawings we debuted last night, is on our website (For Members, Campus Development).

We have two construction projects in the works right now, one more or less immediate, the other in the early planning stages:

IMMEDIATE:  Cover the Drainage Ditch Project –> This project will be completed by June 2014.  The Metropolitan Sewer District of Buncombe County is replacing sewers around our campus and we expect to piggyback onto that project with one of our own.  We will be piping and covering the open drainage ditch that runs parallel to Bond Street behind Jefferson House.  The $85,000 or so that this will cost has already been set aside; no fundraising is necessary.  For more information, head to our website and click on the For Members tab and select Campus Development.

EARLY PLANNING STAGES:  The Welcome Project –>  We need a sign that uses our actual name and that people can read from the road.  We need new window well retaining walls.  We need to make our space welcoming to all, perhaps especially to those who have mobility issues.  We need better lighting and lighting controls in the Sanctuary.  These issues and a few others are addressed in the proposed Welcome Project.  We are showing 3-D drawings of the basic ideas and soliciting feedback right now.  The very preliminary cost for this project is $750,000 and will be funded by a capital campaign if the congregation wishes to pursue it.  For more information, visit our website and click on the For Members tab and select Campus Development.

Send your thoughts, comments, suggestions to me or any member of the Campus Development Committee:  Bill Agrella, Shel Altschul, Sonya Friedrich, Larry Holt, John Martin, Jerry McLellan, Bob Roepnack, Jim Samsel and Elizabeth Schell.  Contact information for all members and friends is available through MY INFO.

How Committees Work in Policy Governance

As I wrote in the entry about the Board and policy governance, this organizational structure definitely helps the Board and staff by providing greater clarity on roles and responsibilities.  The same can be said for the work of committees.  Every committee and group in the congregation is “attached” to a staff member.  That means that there is a direct line of communication from the Board (setting vision) to the Executive (setting strategy) to staff members (guiding programs) and their committees and groups and back again.  This structure keeps the organization lined up, so to speak, with everyone aiming in the same direction.

As one example, although “Activity Groups” are one of the small group ministries of the congregation, I am the attached staff member (all the other small groups are attached to Rev. Lisa).  Therefore, if someone wants to start an Activity Group, or conduct an activity “out of the norm” for their group, I am the contact person with whom to consult.

Another example: Ushers & Greeters are a key component of the care and connections ministry of UUCA, and they are attached to Rev. Lisa.  That means that Rev. Lisa and the committee work together to organize and perform that necessary function.  From this example it ought to be obvious that Lisa can’t do all the work herself (counter to the weird rumor around here that we don’t need volunteers anymore because staff does it all—dark humor indeed for a staff with more ideas than bodies) but having her attached to this group means that she can help guide them as they brainstorm and design their group’s role so that goals of the overall care and connections ministries of the congregation are in sync with the vision of the Board.

Again, the clarity gained from using a governance structure that defines the flow of accountability and responsibility among the congregation, board, staff and committees is enormous.  Yet I know we have members of the congregation, both long-time and new, who feel they don’t quite have a handle on this system.

In this case, I don’t have any questions for you, but perhaps you have questions for me.  As always, feel free to comment or question as you feel moved, either through this post or privately if you wish.  We on staff are really enjoying your interactivity here.  Keep up the good work!

 

Annual Budget Drive Information

We’re gearing up to officially begin the Annual Budget Drive on February 16.  Gene Lambirth is the chair this year.  Here are a few things we really want every UUCA Member to know.  If you can help distribute this information informally, that would be a big help.

The How’s

  • This campaign will be more low-key than normal.  No kick-off sermon, no weekly appeals, although you may hear stories about changing lives.
  • The campaign’s theme is “We Change Lives.”  We hope that hearing how this congregation and/or denomination has a role in directly changing the lives of people you know will inspire all of us to increase our giving.
  • Beginning this year, we are establishing the Sustained Commitment.  We will assume that if we do not receive a commitment form from a member/friend, the commitment they made for 2013-14 will continue as their commitment during 2014-15.  This stops the madness of tracking down people for a completed form(!), allows us to redeploy volunteers and acknowledges that we estimate our next year’s income and budget on good guesses by a few key volunteers.

Why We Ask People to Increase Their Commitments Each Year

This short video by the Eau Clare, WI UU congregation explains the basics of an annual budget drive in a great way.  Although we have no big wish list this year, we are asking people to increase their giving to UUCA. Below are a few reasons why:

  • First, though the US inflation rate is a manageable 2 or less percent per year, it still means that every year we need to raise at least 2 percent more to keep “even.”
  • Second, and far more significantly, we have been purposefully spending more money than we “earn” (from commitment payments) as part of a 5-year plan adopted by the Board 3 years ago. This plan enabled us to take on a full-time second minister and an experienced DLRE.  Every year, the subsidy we allocated ourselves gets smaller and smaller meaning we need more money than last year just to keep “even.”
  • Unfortunately, “even” isn’t good enough.  Some of our expenses are going up.  They go up annually because:
    1. Cost-of-living increases (at the Social Security rate) are granted each year for all staff to keep up with inflation.
    2. Health insurance increases at least 6 percent a year for all eligible staff
    3. The Asheville Living Wage (http://justeconomicswnc.org/what-we-do/) went up substantially last year.
    4. Technology costs go up as we add, repair and replace computers and other electronic equipment for staff and congregation uses (ever use a UUCA-owned computer or projector or TV for a meeting?)
    5. Buildings and grounds costs have historically been held too low, thereby deferring necessary maintenance.  We use and maintain 3 buildings with the newest building more than 40 years old.

If you have any questions about this information, please ask.  If your friends are asking questions, please supply correct answers or ask for more information if you need it.  This is important to the life of the congregation.  As our congregation’s covenant says, “Our life together declares that the future of each depends on the good of all and the future of all depends on the good of each.”  We need the contributions of each of us, at whatever level we can manage, to support the very reason we exist: to nurture our individual searches for meaning through worship, education and interaction while we work together for freedom, justice and love among ourselves and out in the world.

How Policy Governance Helps the Board

It may be true that I am a church governance geek, but I don’t think it affects my perception that the use of policy governance at UUCA has done just as it was hoped—it has provided vision, clarity and accountability in the work of the congregation.  Here are a few key advantages.

I’ve been on the Board and I can say with absolute certainty that the boards that have been in place since we began using policy governance (just about a year and a half) are getting substantially more useful information from staff about what is going on in the life of the congregation than they have ever had before.  And since this information comes to them in the form of written reports from the Executive, they have more meeting time to devote to matters other than program and staff management.

For each board meeting, the Executive (Mark) submits a “What’s Happening Now” report that briefly describes what’s going on in the organization that the board members ought to know about.  It requires no action but gives board members information they might need when speaking with congregants, everything from changes in staff responsibilities (e.g., Benette’s illness-induced change to part-time status and Nick’s subsequent increase to full-time status) to the status of the Annual Budget Drive.

By way of the Board’s Governance Document, the Executive is required to report on various aspects of the congregation’s management each month.  Therefore unlike any previous Board, the board members not only receive monthly financial data as they did prior to policy governance, but they also get a written document from the Executive describing the compliance of every “The Executive shall not” sentence in the Executive Limitations section of the Governance Document.  Over the course of a year, the Board receives a report about every part of the Governance Document that affects the Executive.

For example, for the Board’s February 4 meeting, Mark will provide a report on Executive Limitation H which has to do with communications to the board and the congregation along with a few other miscellaneous items that can loosely be in this category.  For each item, we provide evidence of our compliance or an explanation of why we are not in compliance.  I assure you that no previous boards ever got a yearly report on whether we maintain an accurate membership record or whether there has been a statement of the assets and liabilities presented to the Congregation each year.  It may have always been done, but if it were missed, there was no systematic way to “remember” it.

The Executive reports on every single Limitation and Ends Statement at least once a year.  I’m quite certain no previous Board has ever been so well informed and then freed to do visioning and planning work rather than management.  Upon receiving the report, the Board determines if what we are reporting is the direction they want the congregation to be moving.  If not, they are free to change the Governance Document to get what they want.

DLRE Search Committee Up and Running

This is the time of year when Unitarian Universalist job searches and changes happen.  In order to be included in this cycle, Mark has worked quickly to assemble a very able DLRE Search Committee.  Because this information should have been in yesterday’s e-news (not Jules’ fault, she would want me to say), we thought getting it out to you now would at least be helpful.  Please feel free to tell anyone who asks.  The information is public and will be published next week.

Committee Members:  Louise Anderson, Ben Fleming, Lisa Horak, Susan Kitson and Pat Morell