What are we about as a faith community? And how should the Board of Trustees’ goals reflect that?
These questions framed the discussion at this year’s board summer retreat. At these twice-a-year gatherings, we look back and look forward — reviewing progress made toward the goals set at our previous retreat and establishing new goals for the year to come.
The goals we set at our February 2016 retreat were based on what you told us in a congregational survey you wanted the board to do. We set goals with 4-, 7-, and 10-month milestones. And we’re happy to report that we have met a lot of our short-term goals, including:
- Celebrate and promote centennial (Rosebank Winery celebration in April; multigenerational event to come)
- Visible facilities successes (new carpeting and painting)
- Update a plan for facilities improvements (Susan Irgang presented this to the board in June; restroom renovations planned for 2016–2017)
- Update congregation on the extension of the Racial Justice Initiative (communication with the congregation is ongoing as developments take shape)
- Diversity in services (example: Blessing of the Animals, Aug. 28)
- Clarity from the board about its work (done through our meeting minutes, online blog, Facebook, CrossCurrents, and weekly e-mails)
There is more work to be done on some of the longer-range goals:
- Parking improvements (Susan Irgang is working through regulatory agencies for approvals for our plan)
- Saturday use of the building (an accessibility issue that also promotes congregational engagement in church life)
- Multigenerational activities (potential expansion of Kinship Circle pilot and other activities)
- Discussion of financial calendar (the board will evaluate recommendations from the Finance, Stewardship, and Auction committees at its September meeting)
- Leadership development (strategies under development position us for growth)
We had a lively discussion about goal-setting for the next year. And while we had a rich diversity of ideas, we also had a singular focus: What are we about as a faith community? We were united in the belief that new goals would be mission-oriented, not task-oriented. We wanted to set a vision and engage the congregation in goals that support this vision, not micromanage the execution of a goal.
We settled on five goals for 2016–2017, presented here in no particular order of importance.
Two of our goals relate to the idea that we are a community:
- Support our members
- Build connections
We want to build systematic, intentional means for helping people connect. Roots & Wings leads to the Membership Book, but how do members assimilate into our community? Families with children, for instance, may be constrained in their ability to get involved in committees and ministries. How else can they participate in church life?
As we grow, it’s important to think about how members can feel like they are part of the bigger community. The board and Rev. Kim will delegate responsibility for carrying out this vision to appropriate committees and ministries.
A third goal probably feels familiar to anyone who’s been with us for a few years:
- A system change for Fellowship Hour
The board took a step toward this last year with the hiring of Roberto, our Sunday Steward. This relieved individuals and committees of the burden of food prep and cleanup — allowing us to use Fellowship Hour for, well, fellowship. This fall, we will task a group with identifying and developing equitable plans for food contributions.
A fourth goal expands the congregation-wide work begun as we approached our Centennial year:
- Support expansion of the Racial Justice Initiative
Activities during the first year of this initiative enabled us to get in touch with our individual and collective understanding of privilege and justice. This preparation was necessary before we could take our beliefs beyond our walls. As we enter Year 2, the Council for Faith in Action is actively exploring and evaluating meaningful and realistic ways to move forward.
A final goal lays the groundwork for our future:
- Develop a vision for a capital campaign
As our first four goals suggest, our people are a priority. But the limitations of our building and grounds may be holding us back from realizing the potential of what our people can do. For instance, should classrooms and the Crossings Room be redesigned to promote connection? Do we need an elevator to help more people get to Fellowship Hour? Would a playground with benches add an intergenerational aspect to building community? Would a soup kitchen be representative of what we want to be?
These are only examples. Any vision for improving our building and grounds will be grounded in what the congregation wants our spiritual home to be. Every member of the church will have multiple opportunities to participate in the development of this vision — giving us concrete suggestions about we need and prioritizing objectives that can help us to fulfill this goal.
Along the way, we will converse with the congregation about the role of money. The spirited discussion at our Annual Meeting about the use of surplus funds taught us that our members have many positive ideas about how to invest in our spiritual home. We will adapt this lesson to learn and grow together about how we can best “be ourselves” through our building and grounds.
Community, justice, taking pride in our facilities. There are the things we will focus on to advance our mission.
– Michael D. Dalzell