Thursday, 20 October 2016 00:00

The Reverend's Reflections - October 2016

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Ask someone, “who was the first person you met at church?” and chances are they’ll have a story to tell. These stories are almost always positive because people who have a negative experience don’t stick around to tell theirs. These early and individual connections form our first impressions of a group. Newcomers will immediately know if they feel seen and welcomed in a heartfelt way, or if they feel invisible, unimportant. It doesn’t take much. Someone approaches to say hello or no one does. The effort made in approaching someone, answering a question, or helping find information reveals a generosity of spirit that gives comfort to people who have mustered the courage to walk through an unknown door. How easy it is to forget that out-of-place feeling in strange company.

Whether you found the information someone wished for or answered a question is not the impactful part: it’s the person-to-person, being-to-being connection that matters most. This welcome is what UUFCO has prided itself on and that many feel is its appeal. There is no way of replacing a person-to-person welcome. This will always be true, no matter what size UUFCO is. Even if someone decides this is not the congregation for them, anyone who comes can leave feeling like UUFCO is a warm, welcoming community.

We also strive to be welcoming beyond the first impression, to ensure people get the information they are looking for. With many more people amongst us than just two years ago, the ways we share information and communicate have to grow and change also. We have to find new or more effective ways to get information “out there,” always a struggle in churches. Logically, Sunday worship is viewed as a church’s ‘prime time,’ and there is a tension between the efficiency of getting up to tell everyone at once, and overwhelming the purpose of the gathered community: creating a worshipful experience. When a congregation is in a ministerial transition as we are, the pressures increase. The Board and the Ministerial Search Committee are committed to keeping people informed about the search process and progress. Not only that, UUFCO is in the midst of other important transitions as well, most significantly the review and update of bylaws, a shift in governance suitable for a larger congregation, and the creation of a coherent set of policies. We are also solidifying new parts of the congregational life structure, formalizing the Sunday Volunteer Teams, Leadership Development Committee, and Program Council. This is one busy place.

Busy as we are, let us remain clear in our priorities, defined by our mission statement: seeking meaning, celebrating life and serving the spirit of love and justice in our world. It is proven again and again that strong worship is the key to maintaining a congregation through big changes. It is proven again and again that connection is what newcomers – and new members –seek and need to become part of the community. No matter how busy we are, no matter that we don’t achieve perfection in our systems and communications, no matter how much we want to stay close to people who are familiar to us, let us remember that we are together for something larger than any of us. Let us remember this and live into it in meaningful, heartfelt ways that we may change the world for someone new.

Reverently yours….

Rev. Antonia

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