So what happened, July 22? The board of trustees held a half day retreat at Vasa Hall in Preston. This was not the official retreat, which needs the minister’s involvement, but rather a pre-retreat for board team building. The attendees included board members, staff (Jason, Amanda, and Nicole), and chairs or representatives of board committees. We also included Chris Struble, the Worship team chair. Fortunately, Rev. Furrer was able to join us as he had already arrived in our area prior to his August 1 start date.
Preparing an agenda for a half day was challenging, but we settled on four topics:
- What Does the Board Do?
- Healing the Church – Building Trust
- Doing the Work of the Church
- Nourishing our Vision
For the first topic, Jason presented an overview of the board as a group with fiduciary responsibility for the church. I followed with a discussion of “Ends”, focusing on what Ends are in Policy Based Governance. For the past two years, the board has created Ends at the retreat. I proposed that we expand our creation of ends to include strategizing, assignment of responsibility, and involving the membership in the Ends process to give everyone a sense of ownership.
Rhonda Brown and Louise Wilkinson of our Right Relations group addressed the topic Healing by leading us in series of excellent exercises on building trust.
Doing the work of the church is about recruiting and retaining members of key church committees. How do we make board work more fun, more fulfilling, and more efficient, possibly using more web-based methods in addition to face-to-face meetings, which are becoming more challenging with traffic and personal time conflicts.
For Nourishing Our Vision we reviewed trends in membership, RE participation, and stewardship. We have been seeing declines in membership numbers for about 10 years, since the 2008 recession. Increases in average pledges and better use of our non-pledge resources by Jason have offset the financial effects of these declines in part, but we need to focus on growth for long term sustainability.
The good news is that our values are needed and relevant more than ever to our larger community. If we can focus on growing our commitments to the practice of our values, membership growth will follow. One possible goal for the coming year will be asking every group, and indeed every member, to think about how we can grow in the practice of our faith, and how we can get the excitement of our faith into our own souls and into the larger community.
Denis Fleck, our VP, and I will restart our First Saturday coffee and conversation on August 4, 10-12 in Spring Hall, located in the Education building. We would like to review and expand our pre-retreat discussions to include anyone who is interested.