Our Perspective on Adding an Assistant Minister

by Nathalie Edmond, Vice President and Patrick Kahney, Trustee
UUCWC Board of Trustees

If you haven’t heard, UUCWC is growing, and growing rapidly! Currently, we serve 286 members, 24 Friends, 60 Participants and 20 Attendees for a total of 390. Our membership number is up 21% over 5 years ago, and RE enrollment has grown by 41%. Weekly attendance is up 23% over that same 5 year period.

Typical size categories, as defined by the UUA are as follows. Less than 50 members is defined as a family size congregation. Pastoral size congregations are up to 150 members, and Program size congregations up to 350 – 400 (depending on which definition you prefer) with Corporate size congregations being the next, and largest congregational category (1). A Program size congregation, like UUCWC, is “known for the quality and variety of its programs. Separate programs for children, youth, couples, seniors, and other age and interest groups provide entry points to congregational life for a wide range of people.”(1) If this sounds familiar to you – that’s great news, because it means you’re aware of the incredible work being done behind the scenes making all of these results appear seamless to the outside observer.

These numbers demonstrate our growth, and it’s important to recognize the excellent efforts of our full time and part-time staff that have gotten us where we are. We lift up the superhuman efforts of Kim, Robin, Caryl, Susan, Hannah, Roberto, Ed, Rachel, Steve (the nine employees of UUCWC) as well as our excellent lay leadership. We couldn’t be where we are today without all of the contributions to leadership, and we must recognize the limits we are currently bumping up against as a congregation.

An essential quality of a program congregation is to create an environment where all participants feel known. A concern while a congregation is growing is that existing staffing resources may not be sufficient to create an environment where everyone feels known. Another set of hands can and will help us provide an improved congregational experience for all congregants. Adding an Assistant Minister to the community will allow existing ministries and committees to feel more supported and allow us to be more strategic in our planning. Right now most members of our staff are “overfunctioning” i.e. doing more to keep us moving forward than is expected in their job description and it is unlikely that there are processes in place to sustain these activities if someone is away on leave or a sabbatical.

While we have always been a congregation that does “whatever it takes,” it’s important to recognize that we have reached an important milestone in our growth. In order to continue down this path in a healthy and sustainable way, an Assistant Minister will be a critical asset. Our Assistant Minister should provide our existing staff with the bandwidth required to focus effectively on the jobs they have, directly impacting and improving our experience as a congregation not only on Sunday mornings, but through our daily experience interacting with UUCWC in all facets of our congregational life.

Please consider supporting our efforts, with an increase in your financial pledge, to ensure continued growth at UUCWC and enhancing overall congregational experience. We’ve been blessed to have the ability to get where we are, let’s not turn back now!

(1) https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/documents/congservices/sizetransitions.pdf