by Colleen McCourt
At UUCWC, we’re always looking to create, nurture and deepen connections and be in community with each other. In that spirit, the past year saw the formation of the Family Ministry Team, a group of congregants charged with exploring the diverse experiences and needs of families within the congregation.
The members of the Family Ministry Team include Stephanie Golski, Jen Couchoud, Bonnie Milecki, Andy Snyder and Colleen McCourt, working closely with DRE Robin Pugh. All members of the team are parents – with children spanning a range of ages – and we have all been involved with various aspects of the current Religious Education (RE) program. We have had the opportunity to meet throughout the last several months to evaluate the current and future state of family life at UUCWC, logistically, socially and spiritually, based on a range of feedback including a broad survey of UUCWC parents, as well as seven goals from the 2019 “Dismantling White Supremacy Accountability in RE” Assessment.
In December, we reached out to parents in the congregation for their feedback to complete a survey outlining their families’ experience of life at UUCWC, what’s important to them, and where they see potential opportunities for greater connection and community. We were fortunate to get a great response rate for the survey, with some parents coming together for lunch after church and providing their feedback in person, and some sending their responses via email. When we reviewed all the feedback, there were several clear themes. Overall, survey responses indicated that participants mainly come to church for four overarching reasons: to be in a community, to reinforce UU values, to have a spiritual life, and to do service work.
Not surprisingly, for most participants, the biggest obstacle in getting the most out of these areas is lack of time. We hear you. Families are busy, consistently balancing multiple schedules and commitments. But while time is a challenge across the board, different families have different challenges. Parents of younger children need to work around regular nap times and feeding schedules, while families with older children need to balance homework and sporting events and practices in every season. Which brings us to another theme – families are diverse, with lots of common ground but also lots of differences. Each family’s needs, structure, demographics and support systems may vary, influencing the degree and way they seek connection at UUCWC.
Further, another important part of the Family Ministry Team’s goal is to incorporate the seven goals recommended by the Dismantling White Supremacy in RE Team, a 2018-19 task force that piloted a new UUA Accountability Assessment Tool which measures eight different aspects of multi-cultural receptivity in RE programs. The task force’s recommended goals will be incorporated by the Family Ministry Team, whose covenant includes centering anti-racism, anti-oppression, spiritual inclusivity and multicultural accountability in various aspects of worship and congregational life at UUCWC.
The Family Ministry Team will continue to seek your feedback throughout the year. We also strive to improve communication of RE topics, family needs and events through multiple avenues, from bulletin boards to emails to our new UUCWC Parents Facebook group, and more.
We’ve heard many great things from UUCWC parents about what they value about RE and life at UUCWC, including shared values and a sense of community. We’ve also heard your challenges around time and balancing multiple commitments, with a genuine wish to find more ways to connect that are easily accessible. We are working on providing potential opportunities for fostering social connection and social justice that can bridge some of these challenges. We welcome your ideas and logistical support, and we look forward to hearing more from you throughout the year.
The Family Ministry Team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.