Numerical growth is easy to see. Nearly 100 people joined UUFCO since 2014, our operating pledge support has grown by about $100,000, our children’s program flourishes, worship services are highly attended, and the building is busy.
Organic growth speaks to the strength of a congregation, the health of its organization and robustness of its identity. In the past six months, we’ve defined more clearly what we’re about: who we are as UUs, and as the UU Fellowship of Central Oregon. We are a more developed organization. The Board, its task forces and committees are working effectively as is staff; many programs, initiatives and activities are underway, and more volunteers throughout. We also now have three new entities – the Program Council, the Leadership Development Committee, and the Healthy Congregations Team.
Maturational growth indicates the wisdom in a congregation. The three new entities above are an expression maturational growth, being venues for valuable, reflective, explorative and collaborative conversations where people are learning the language and give and take of working in partnership as a larger community. They – and the Board – are where shared ministry is really happening and this is deeply rewarding for me as your minister. And I’m not alone in my gratitude for the dedicated leadership of President Mark Hickman, who has made himself a student of congregations, taking advantage of the wealth of information available to UU leaders. Overall, we have a deeper understanding of covenant, partnership and mission.
Incarnational growth is about actions flowing from the congregation in fulfillment of its mission. This ministry has been a time of placing foundations needed to function effectively as a larger organization, work that will continue past my tenure here. Nonetheless, new shifts are evident as the Board and others turn to questions of how UUFCO will live its values in public - our role in the world and in supporting democratic society. There are many initiatives underway: Project GRACE focusing on income inequality, our tutoring program at Juniper Elementary School, films, speakers and sessions we hold to explore our realities, and a new role collaborating with other churches on immigration issues. UU theologian James Luther Adams said that congregations like ours are incubators for democracy. Through our work together in covenantal community, we are practicing what’s necessary in a democratic society too. We struggle through conflict and differences; we learn to love one another anyway; and we find common ground to work from and build on so that we strengthen our web of life and are made more alive ourselves.
There is still much to do and UUFCO needs all of you. In a few months I’ll be leaving and your leadership will need your skills and your support in the transition with the new minister. As well, the country is in a revolution and we need to make sure it’s a creative revolution. While we are still putting the wheels on this new, bigger UUFCO bus of ours, we also have exciting, important roles in supporting each other through times of change; teaching our children what democracy is; and showing our politicians the power of communities and organizations of integrity like ours. We need each other very much right now. Our generosity of spirit and resources is what will carry us through.