News 4 Leaders
These posts are “news memos” for the lay leaders of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, NC.
They provide a forum for staff and lay leaders to consider a variety of issues affecting the life of the congregation. Most memos are written by the congregation’s Director of Administration with input from various staff members.
Comments are moderated by the Director of Administration. All members are invited to comment – to comment click on post title, comment area will be at the bottom of the post.
Posts are irregularly timed.
News 4 Leaders Blog
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!
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.)
There 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
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:
“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:
- 30% of registered families will be present in Sunday worship at least twice a month.
- 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.
- The director of lifespan religious education will report that at least 10 UUCA families have developed family spiritual practices at home.
- At least 4 parents of children in religious education will have given statements in worship about why this congregation is important to them.
- We will hold 6 planned multigenerational activities during the year at which at least 8 children and 4 adults participate.
“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:
- 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.
- 66% of new members will report being involved in some activity of the congregation within six months of joining.
- 50% of members contacted after their first year will report being currently involved in some activity of the congregation.
- 33% of members contacted after three years at UUCA will report being currently involved in some activity of the congregation.
“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:
- At least 150 congregants will participate in the Just Change workshop.
- At least 150 congregants will take part in programs arising from the Just Change workshop.
- At least 25% of congregants will have reported some activity during this church year to broaden their understanding or awareness of racism.
- At least 25% of congregants will participate in service, advocacy and education outside of the congregation.
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.
“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 email@example.com by February 21.
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 Link, by check (made to GUUF), or at the door. Contact Kathleen Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Please include your name, congregation, and food preferences (omnivore-vegetarian-vegan). Kathleen will reply with confirmation.
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
Registration BEFORE January 10 is $15 per participant; late registration will be $25.
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.
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.