by Rev. Dr. Stephen H. Furrer
With the coming of September, we begin the third year of ESUC’s Developmental Ministry. The overall goals of the program, formulated in the summer of 2018 have been: During the tenure of the Developmental Minister, we will:
- Inspire a healthier culture at East Shore
- Continue to implement policy-based governance
- Establish a leadership and volunteer development program
- Grow membership.
Simple enough to say, but accomplishing them has been a demanding challenge, especially in light of the monkey wrench COVID-19 has thrown into everything. Nevertheless, we have been making steady progress and will continue to do so this coming year.
Members of our Board, the Beloved Racial Justice, and Right Relations Committees have led in community circles and other restorative practices to inspire a more sensitive and response-able culture throughout the congregation. This has been hard work, involving self-examination and inner reflection, especially regarding widespread unconscious white privilege. Adult Education classes, worship services, and denominational programs have also contributed to greater multicultural awareness and commitment going forward.
Understanding and fully implementing policy-based governance continues. Executive Director Jason Puracal deserves special credit for his unceasing efforts to educate the Board and the membership at large in the policy-governance works as a church organizational and governing structure.
Having an ongoing regenerative volunteer/leadership development program enables healthy congregations to continuously plug good younger, newer members into leadership roles. ESUC’s Nominating Committee Chair, Martin Cox, has been studying how this is being accomplished in similar-sized congregations. He’s been talking with Board members and other lay leaders about expanding Nominating’s charter to include member development goals and then to implement what they learn.
The fourth goal—membership growth—is perennial. And like much else in the midst of the pandemic, hard to get around if by growth we mean exclusively numerical growth. Throughout the last six months the staff has grown exponentially when it comes to worship design, media awareness, and greater electronic production skill. We have transferred seventy years of conscious community building into all online all the time church. And the challenges have led to extraordinary growth on all of our parts. Membership Development Manager Nicole Duff has established new ways to reach out and keep track of newcomers has begun getting our recruitment efforts back to their pro-coronavirus levels with direct contact and a new Pathway to Membership.
All of you can help. First, by reminding friends and acquaintances how meaningful your church has been to helping keep you happy and healthy during the last harrowing half year—and turning them on to our Zoom Sunday services. Second by continuing to welcome and reach out to your fellow members AND the new faces that appear on Sundays and other events throughout the week.
In six months my Developmental Ministry will be half over. In twelve months—God willing—we’ll be in much better shape vis-à-vis the virus, and able once again to assemble as a community on our beautiful campus. May it be so. And may the year ahead be one of amazing challenges met and wonderful memories made for all of us!
Yours in abiding liberal faith,