20140302_104303As the newsletter deadline approaches, we are preparing for the third all-church transition discussion on March 23rd focusing on the future we envision. The results of the second transition meeting on February 23rd are summarized below, which addressed what we want to honor and claim from our history as we move forward. Thank you to all the people who assisted in many ways to the successful February History Month effort. With Reverend Pam’s guidance, we will continue on with the process recommended by the UUA and explore how we sustain the institution of our church and our connections with the UUA. In addition, we have been asked to help focus attention on two current needs—improving and clarifying the communications in our church and developing shared understanding of the ministry and the minister’s role in our church. Please share your suggestions and questions and concerns with any of us; your thoughts are welcome.

We also need another member, as Bob Wallis has shifted to focus on his work with Nominations and A/V. Interested? Please contact one of us: Tim Bartik, Rochelle Habeck, Mary Lewis, Don Miller, Zoë Valette and Reverend Pam.

Results from the Second Transition Meeting: Here are the main themes that were identified by those in attendance at our all-church transition discussion on February 23. These results can be used in the current work of the congregation and also provide insights to guide the upcoming search process.

The first question asked: What key things from our heritage do we want to honor and bring forward as we move to this next period of our history? The most frequently mentioned aspects were:

  1. Lifespan Religious Education
  2. Social Justice
  3. Intergenerational Services
  4. Music/Musical activities
  5. Congregational Connections
  6. Intellectual Growth
  7. Support
  8. Community Involvement
  9. Welcoming All
  10. Valuing Change, Tolerance, and Diversity
  11. Children and Families

The second question asked: What key lessons can we learn from things that did not go so well in our past that we want to use to guide our future? The replies were grouped into similar content themes as follows:

  1. Strengthen Congregational Life
    Realize that the church is the Congregation—the people—not the minister or the building; Encourage people to engage with those they don’t know and cross generations; Provide more ways of welcoming and connecting (e.g., Sunday circle suppers), adaptable to give people what they need; Place strong emphasis on diversely scheduled adult activities; Lack of parking space (requires funds) demands carpooling; Preserve ability to speak as a church on important issues and to take a stand; Narrow down our commitments (e.g., Welcoming Congregation and Green Sanctuary) and push through to finalize these commitments; Widen our community focus beyond metropolitan Kalamazoo.
  2. Respect and Promote Diversity
    Be able to respect, validate, and be open to other people’s views and ways of knowing, other religious paths and beliefs (from UU Christianity to UU Atheism), and styles of services; Be able to attract diversity, not just accept it.
  3. Manage Change
    Help everyone understand why changes are being made; balance honoring tradition and inspiring change and flexibility; take time to accept change and not be quick to judgment; prepare to be more welcoming to the next minister; but don’t overprocess.
  4. Improve Communication
    Achieve transparency in communications within the church; Better communication about activities; Clarify how/when to use each communication vehicle effectively and briefly; Provide and make clear the option for print or email subscription to newsletter.
  5. Find Balance in Next Minister
    Able to give voice to both head and heart; intellectualism and human warmth; thoughtful sermons (to grow) and good politics/compassion (to keep); gives more than a Sunday sermon, has pastoral interests, well-rounded, shared ministry.
  6. Sunday Services
    Maintain ritual in service, e.g., Joys and Concerns, opening song, consistency in order of service; Achieve clarity about expectations regarding “control” of Sunday services, i.e., our desire to share control, what the minister wants; Continue to include kids in the service (don’t repeat exclusion from earlier years).
  7. Mitigate Conflict
    More flexible problem solving; Even in difficult situations, we can find some positive things; Appreciate creative tension; Mediate conflicts when they first appear and reach out to those who have been alienated; Have something in place for leadership to use in conflict resolution, and a place to register concerns.
  8. Develop Leaders
    Develop a clear and open path to leadership; Need to open leadership to many, currently asking too much of too few.

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