You as a congregation have worked very hard to get to this new threshold, a threshold that is about the community and ministry that you are, well beyond the beauty of the building. I describe the building as a wonderful ally in ministry, welcoming and comfortable, but a congregation’s ministry will never stand on a building. It stands on what the congregation is and does as a community in a community. And that stands on the ability of the leadership to work together in prophetic and loving ways.
UUFCO has grown in maturity, in wisdom, diversity and spiritual depth these past three years, and most especially in the past twelve months. A year ago, serious challenges to the wellbeing of the congregation and its ministry arose. We had a failure of understanding and a breach of trust; we wrestled to find some shared interpretation and failing that, Board and Minister together, we determined to carry on, grounding our priorities in the quality of our relationships and mindful process.
Through the bond of the covenant we share and with the willingness to seek outside help, healing happened and new, hopeful commitments emerged. Relationships were redefined, forgiveness was asked and given, focus was put on learning better ways to communicate and build trust; and new respect, and honesty, cohesion, love and even joy emerged.
Would this congregation be as strong today without having had these challenges? I suspect not, for UUFCO as a congregation has now gone through a difficult time and experienced ‘reconciliation,’ an experience that sets the precedent for how the community responds to future conflicts, or resolves them proactively. Church professionals speak of congregations having ‘DNA,’ traits that endure through decades. If our past year together has developed traits of engaging difficult things proactively, a willingness to pivot towards reconciliation, and commitment to leading at the speed of trust, this will be a year of UUFCO history to be cherished and celebrated.
During this year, leadership has successfully undertaken a massive amount of catching up to
- be an organization with an adequate institutional framework of bylaws, policies and leadership groups to function effectively
- realize the necessity of treating one another respectfully, in the spirit of goodwill and assuming the other’s best intention, and the role of mindful process in promoting respect and cooperation in the group
- know what cohesion and faithfulness feel like as a larger community
There are conversations to have about what ministries UUFCO wants to serve, and what qualities you as a congregation seek to embody with one another and with the people beyond our walls, people who need ministry of some kind. I expect in the year ahead, the Board and your new minister will begin new dialogue about these waiting questions. Indeed, a number of committees are reaching a point of readiness to launch new initiatives and waiting for clarity about overarching directions and vision, that they may align themselves.
Exciting times indeed! I wish you and Rev. Scott a revealing and hopeful candidating week together, and look forward to our celebrations of this transition when I return.