As we move towards the end of my time with the congregation, it’s the perfect moment to review the goals that were set for developmental ministry before I arrived. No doubt, some of you remember being part of the goal-setting process, meeting together in small groups, while others have come since the goals were set. Either way, it’s time for a review and reassessment.
The first goal was to “turn our vision of being a strong, visible, and socially active presence in the community into strategic action.” This goal aligns well with the mission statement adopted last fall: A diverse, evolving spiritual community acting for a better world; as well as the vision statement that the congregation approved last year: A vibrant, inclusive congregation, UUFM is widely known as a safe haven and a force for social justice. A desire to be a force for justice and act for a better world is not enough, but we are doing it. As a congregation, you voted to support elimination of the high school’s mascot, and to support Black Lives Matter. We made T-shirts and showed up together at many tabling events in the community. More importantly, we showed up at many social action events, from Pride to Kansas Poor People’s Campaign, and more. Together, we formed a Racial Justice Team, after a few members completed Beloved Conversations. Now, that Racial Justice Team has studied the UUA Commission on Institutional Change’s report and made recommendations to the Board, as we work toward becoming a truly anti-oppressive, multicultural institution (look for more about that elsewhere in the newsletter). We’ve forged connections with non-profits throughout the community, instituted a Blessing Box in cooperation with Wonder Workshop, and continued our sizable volunteer support for Happy Kitchen, while contributing to many of the justice efforts in our community. Working in partnerships allows us to do far more than we could alone.
The second developmental goal was to “move to a full-time ministerial leadership model for the fellowship.” Though we have had to drop back to 3/4 time for the time being, substantial progress happened on this front. The minister is now the supervisor of staff, who receive annual evaluations, and a key contact point in the congregation and the community. Collaborative work between the minister and lay people characterizes the Sunday Services Committee, the Social Action Committee, and the Caring Team. The congregation is more solid financially, and well-positioned to move back to full-time ministry soon.
The third goal was to “grow in ways needed to support both 1 and 2.” I’ve seen a great deal of spiritual growth and deepening during my time here. Numerical growth has been more modest yet real. One of the realizations during our time together is that growing by 10% a year–that is, adding 10-12 members–is not enough to grow, because of the transience of the community. Moving takes a handful or two of members every year, so it’s hard to maintain slow, steady growth, especially in times when the University and community struggle.
Moving forward, there are a few matters the congregation needs to be considering.
- How will UUFM rebuild from the pandemic, particularly in terms of outreach to families with children?
- How will UUFM effectively organize its volunteers and decision-making to best serve the mission and vision?
- How does the building and its location serve–or not serve–the mission and vision? How might it?
These questions remain for you to explore with your next minister. All my best hopes and dreams for the fellowship!
On another note, I would love to be able to say good-bye to you – yes, each one of you. We have about six weeks left to do that. As you will see elsewhere in the newsletter, we are reopening the office, so feel free to drop by during office hours, or pop in on my somewhat limited Zoom hours. Plus, I am re-starting drop in coffeehouse hours – I’ll be on out back at Public Hall. If those times, don’t work for you, call, text or email me to set up a time to touch base, in whatever place and circumstance you feel comfortable. And, of course, there will be a time of celebration of the work we have done together later in July. Watch for more information about that.
Contact Rev Jonalu Johnstone at email@example.com.