Results from a Conversation
Last month on November 5, members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura (UUCV) were invited to an event known as a “Congregational Conversation.” It was put on by the Board of Trustees. Approximately 75 people participated in providing answers and comments to an “open” question that the Board is concerned with as part of its work discerning the Vision and Mission of our church. An “open” question is one that cannot be answered with a simple “Yes or No.”
The question posed: What are the ways we want to grow? After the instructions were clarified, the conversation began, and very quickly the energy in the room grew. We were taking turns talking with each other and listening. The process involved two activities. First, everyone paired with a partner and then later teamed up in larger groups of 4 or 5. In both cases we spent time talking with each other about the question, and then writing on Post-It Notes the individual ideas and thoughts that arose. Each of the larger groups, there were eleven, shared with all who had participated some of the thoughts that were raised. Out of this exercise 232 individual ideas/comments were generated. For an exercise lasting just over an hour the resulting information gathered is incredible and informative.
At our November Board meeting your Trustees examined the information that was gathered and distilled it down to 9 areas. They are: Facility Aesthetics-interior/exterior; Publicity-Visibility; Growth in Numbers; Being a Community of Many Diversities; Social Action; Many Generations; Worship; Relationship Building and Spiritual Depth; and Governance. Within each area there are many ideas and comments to be considered. Two examples involve our Sanctuary, and our identity in the local community. The Post-It Note exercise revealed strong congregational energy around ideas having to do with the Sanctuary aesthetics and wanting it to have a more spiritual feeling. And there was a strong expression about doing more to spread the good news that is Unitarian Universalism.
What will we do next with all of these ideas? First, there will be more Congregational Conversations. Our next one will be in January. Second, the Board intends to engage the resources of our Pacific Western Region team and share with them what we have gathered. With their help we will continue to move forward toward articulating just exactly what our Vision and Mission are at this time in our history as a prophetic voice of liberal religion. Third, we intend to find ways to implement as many of the ideas that were expressed as possible. Fourth, there are seeds of boldness in some of the ideas that require deeper thought and long-term planning to be successful. We will be looking to explore these more deeply with everyone.
Living in Paradise,
Bryan Buck, President