Moving Forward: An Update from the Healthy Congregations Implementation Team

The Healthy Congregation Implementation Team (IT) has been hard at work since February with three committees of 40+ people working on the goal of strengthening our congregation.  It has been encouraging to see people of various ages, life experiences, and perspectives collaborating on our goals – sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing, but ultimately finding ways forward by listening and considering the perspectives of others. Here’s a brief update on each group:

  • The Priority 1 ‘Creating Community Team’ is working to reconcile and repair relationships through various activities: 1) creation of several videos to share communication strategies (CLICK HERE), 2) engaging in conversations with the Minister (CLICK HERE) 3) holding the Sunday Soul- Weaving meetings (CLICK HERE), 4) creation of a resource library (CLICK HERE) with links to recordings, interviews, videos, documents, and more and 5) redrafting our Covenant of Right Relations to present to the congregation in the near future. More is yet to come!

  • The Priority 2 committee includes the documents review group, which is seeking to reconcile differences between governing documents and review them with attention to areas of mutual accountability and shared ministry.  The group has identified the areas that need attention, which is significant work in and of itself. Drafting new language requires agreement among various church bodies.

  • The Priority 3 committee is exploring the UUA’s anti-racism approach from various angles – history/origins, training/outreach, power dynamics, GA resolutions/protocols, and congregational experiences. By engaging in diligent research, the committee is poised to present their initial findings to the congregation so that each of us can engage in “a free and responsible search for meaning,” in accordance with our 4th UU Principle.

All of the priorities are important, but given our current church challenges, we are placing the Priority 2 work (document review & updating) on hold, while we continue with Priorities 1 and 3.

I want to inform you that Mary Lou Johnson has resigned as Co-Chair of the Implementation Team to engage in other church work at this time. I am deeply grateful to her for her dedication to this work; without her, it would not have come this far. THANK YOU, MARY LOU! As the remaining Chair, I will continue to work closely with the committees to complete our tasks, evaluate what has been achieved, and identify recommendations for the future. More importantly, we will work together to keep the congregation apprised of our collective work.

Despite the uncertainty in our church, we are forging ahead because we believe that our efforts are making a difference and are more important than ever. If we can connect to each other with curiosity and empathy, our congregation will only get stronger.

In a spirit of love,
Rachelle Strawther, Chair, Implementation Team

Please watch this recorded, 30-minute video about Nonviolent Communication by Peecheng Chen. CLICK HERE!


What your Creating Community Team has been up to…

As most of you know, the Healthy Congregations Implementation Team (known as IT) is comprised of 40+ church members addressing three different priorities: 1) Reconciling and repairing relationships, 2) Reviewing and updating Governing Documents, and 3) Researching the UUA’s approach to Anti-Racism, etc. Since early March, those of us addressing Priority 1 – known as the Creating Community team –  have gathered weekly by Zoom with a clear purpose in mind: to foster curiosity, empathy, and connection in our congregation. We each look at the challenges and opportunities in our church with a unique set of lens; we agree on some things, and disagree on others. This commitment to embracing productive tension has led to some important work that we would like to share with all of you:

 

  1. Conversations with Todd:The Creating Community Team is focus on reconciling and repairing relationships in the church. While some of that work is about member-to-member relationships, we believe our minister is central to this work. As such, we arranged a small group Zoom meeting with Todd on March 25th (CLICK HERE) with the goal of opening up conversation and creating a pathway to involve Todd in our work. During that meeting, those present agreed that the recording could be shared with others in the church.

A second meeting with Todd was held on April 9th (CLICK HERE) to follow up with questions from the first meeting, and to share an opportunity for Todd to collaborate with us. As before, the participants agreed that the recording could be shared.

As a reminder, the small group entered the conversations with a goal of listening actively, remaining curious, and demonstrating respectful candor. Should you wish to watch these recordings, please know that whether we challenged ideas, nodded our heads, or remained quiet during the meeting, our goal is engage in the reconciliation work alongside our Minister. We hope to engage others from our community – for example, our Board President –  in similar conversations.

 

  1. Soul-Weaving Meeting:In an effort to create a space for connection, spirituality, and intellectualism, our team has begun hosting Soul-Weaving, a gathering (currently by Zoom) on Sundays at 1pm. Our first Soul-Weaving on April 12th, which was attended by 30 congregational members, featured a thought-provoking reading, live music, and the opportunity to watch a recorded sermon entitled “Love will not be canceled” by a UU Minister in Santa Fe. All are welcome to join us each week by contacting Maureen to request the ZOOM link. maureen.mj.smith@gmail.com (Note: Although we were unfortunately unable to record the first Soul-Weaving, we should be able to do so in the future. Notes from the first Soul-Weaving are available – see below.)

 

  1. A Library of Resources: While working together, our team saw the need to archive recordings of important conversations, videos, links, suggested resources, and questions. As such, we have created a document – a Cultivating Curiosity Library – that any UUCS member can view and submit suggestions to. To view the Library – which includes the recordings of the meetings with Todd, notes from Soul-Weaving, directions on how to submit suggestions, and much more – please click here: CULTIVATING CURIOSITY LIBRARY (CLICK HERE).

 

In the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing more opportunities to create community together. Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. In the meantime, we wish you health and peace of mind.

In a spirit of love,

Joan Perkins and Erin Popelka, Creating Community Team Co-Facilitators

jloominating@gmail.com / erin.popelka@yahoo.com