Congregational growth — and how we can harness it for good internally and beyond our walls — was a recurring theme at the UUCWC Annual Meeting, June 4. Ninety-nine members attended the meeting, exceeding the count for a quorum.
Three of the board’s goals this year related to our growth either directly or indirectly. At the meeting, Acting Board of Trustees President Pam Shadzik reviewed those goals and, with the help of other church leaders, detailed our progress toward them:
Goal 1: Development of a vision for a capital campaign. Our growth led the board to review options for improving and expanding our facilities during the 2015–2016 fiscal year. We then began the 2016–2017 fiscal year by meeting and contracting with a capital campaign consultant. Later, the board appointed a Strategic Visioning Task Force, led by Jayme Trott.
At the meeting, Jayme described the task force’s activities. This group has conducted fact-finding and developed recommendations for capital improvements on the basis of these findings. Its next step is to hold cottage meetings to solicit congregational input on these recommendations. This input will be translated into a statement of rationale for a capital campaign, which will be presented to the congregation for approval in Fall 2017.
Goal 2: Support for expansion of UUCWC’s Racial Justice Initiative (RJI), an ongoing commitment now concluding its second year. Nathalie Edmond and Dan Tuft, representing the RJI, reviewed this year’s activities, which included the participation of 57 members in Beloved Conversations and group meetings on the subject of white supremacy. The year culminated in congregational approval of a banner expressing values for which the congregation stands. Council for Faith in Action chair Sallie Dunner unveiled the banner at the annual meeting.
UUCWC recognizes that each congregant is in a different place along the continuum of racial justice. As such, RJI activities next year will range from internal discussions to opportunities to connect external organizations doing similar work and to participate in service and activism. This range reflects the diversity of readiness within our congregation as it grows to do this work.
Goal 3: Move forward with becoming a teaching congregation. The board this year endorsed the Personnel Committee’s application for a UUA grant to help offset salary of a ministerial intern. Ministerial Intern Susan Flynn begins at UUCWC August 1 and will be in the pulpit some Sundays during 2017–2018. Endowment Committee Chair Jim Erb announced that one of the three Endowment grants awarded this year will help to subsidize Susan’s housing expenses.
Susan is also likely to assume responsibility for some programs to help manage ministerial-lead needs as we grow, providing both a growth opportunity for her and a welcome respite for Rev. Kim.
By the numbers
Rev. Kim noted that 31 people signed the Membership Book this year, bringing our total membership to 290. Add in friends, frequent visitors, and 117 children in religious education classes, and we are a system of 496 people. Our community is larger than ever. This growth has numerous implications.
Use of the building is up — averaging 30 meetings per month during the day, versus an average of two in the previous fiscal year — meaning more wear and tear on our increasingly tight quarters. In the long term, the capital campaign will address this issue, but in the short term, we can look forward to remediation of one aspect of increased wear and tear: the upstairs restrooms will be fully renovated this summer.
Growth requires more parking as well. Office Administrator Susan Irgang shared that we have met the prerequisites of two of the four regulatory bodies with authority to approve our parking-expansion plans. As we work with the other two agencies, progress continues, albeit slowly because of the need for surveys and bureaucratic red tape.
Growth also compels us to keep up with staffing needs and fair compensation, and to adequately fund our building reserve for routine facilities expenses. These priorities are reflected in the $496,000 budget reviewed by Finance Committee Chair Joe Schenk. The congregation unanimously passed this budget, which was notable for its record $407,000 in pledge income — the first time our Stewardship campaign has exceeded $400,000.
Power to the people
The leadership slate presented by Nominating Chair Geri Koblis was notable in that a large proportion of people moving into leadership roles are doing so for the first time. Our efforts at leadership development within the congregation have taken root — a critical development as we grow.
Food Ministry Chair Mike Muccioli described the launch of a grant program, funded by more than $7,000 in donations from congregants to the Rollie Rahn Memorial Fund. The Food Ministry has coordinated with HomeFront to provide grants of up to $1,000 for youths enrolled in HomeFront’s culinary training or nutrition programs. Rollie would have been proud of this expansion of our mission and its potential to empower people in the community.
Finally, most of the things we do at UUCWC would be impossible without our volunteers. With more people stepping up to leadership and with long-time leaders seemingly taking on more responsibility than ever, the board this year explored new ways of recognizing those who answer the call for service.
Pam unveiled the new Service Award process and structure, which removes narrow awards categories (previously, awards were limited to social justice and religious education). The new process allows for more people to be recognized formally for their work. The fact that the board presented Distinguished Service Awards to eight people is, too, is a dimension of our growth. The church’s top award — Order of the Flaming Chalice, a sort of “lifetime achievement” award — remains. This award was presented to George Faulkner.
Growth can be good. Our 2017 Annual Meeting was a key event for putting it into perspective.
Michael D. Dalzell
Secretary, Board of Trustees