by Rev. Stephen H. Furrer
As the summer has progressed I’ve been working with the staff and lay leadership to formalize a congregational Growth Plan. Of course, growth is always about more than only numbers—growth in spirit, in appreciation, in a passion for justice, in cultural refinement. There are many ways and lots of criteria by which to measure growth. And numbers are one of them.
We are proposing, first: Programs to Members about how to be more welcoming and inclusive. These are likely to include an updated Welcoming Congregation seminar (welcoming LGBTQIA+ folks) and others helping us grow in sensitivity to accessibility, class and racial issues. Secondly, we are designing programs to draw in the outside community. There will include but will not be limited to East Shore Live with fun, entertaining, musical programs. Adult Education will be specifically designed to draw in neighborhood people and interest them in what’s going on here. Religious Education has long been Unitarian Universalism’s most successful outreach program. This coming year, in particular, we will provide a full OWL program with comprehensive sex education for people from middle school on up to elders. Flash Stance public witness events draw interest throughout the eastside, but I keep thinking we could do more, by which I mean we could—if we wanted to—imagine and participate in more and varied public witnesses, and this might also be part of ESUC’s Growth Plan.
Above all, we propose the following two overarching ideas: NO MORE “BUSINESS” MEETINGS ON SUNDAY until one hour after services. All coffee hour chatter and dialogue is to focus on welcoming newcomers and introducing them to others who they might like getting to know. After an hour, okay, people can caucus for this or that church activity, but the idea is to keep Sunday morning focused on outreach, not each other. The second overarching idea: is TUESDAY NIGHT CHURCH NIGHT. Committees and Core Teams are invited to try having their meeting on Tuesday evenings. These could be from 3:30 to 5:00 for those leery of winter driving after dark, or from 7:00 to 9:00 after a weekly potluck supper from 5:00 to 6:45. Each week there would also be an opportunity to pause for a moment to center, celebrate, and reflect with a short worship service and also a variety of fun, social activities great for members, neighbors, and friends alike.
The details are still be ironed out, and sometimes ironing requires a lot of starch and sizing. But we’re getting geared up and excited. Won’t you jump in, too?
In abiding liberal faith, Steve