Over the past few weeks, I have been working and planning with many of you, with the staff team, and with Howell. I have sought counsel from colleagues, and I have talked with UUA staff that I trust, most especially the Rev. Nancy Bowen. Through these conversations, Howell and I have started to formulate plans and priorities that will move us through the next six months – the remaining time of the official interim.
During this time, Howell will remain as the Interim Lead Minister, and we will work in a close partnership to ensure a smooth transition before the end of his contract in June and my official beginning as Senior Minister in July. Generally speaking, Howell will be leading and working on those efforts that relate to the intended work of the interim, and I will be leading and working on those things that establish the foundation for the future. More specifically, here is a breakdown of our priorities and plans for the next six months. As always, we welcome your input, questions, ideas and partnership. And, we’ll be sure to bring you regular updates here and in upcoming forums on Sundays (next forum: 1/10/16).
- Worship Leadership and Planning – Howell and I will work closely in worship over the next six months, hopefully offering a number of Sundays with both of us present! We have created a calendar that has Howell and I each in the pulpit on average, twice a month, and Diana McLean, our Ministerial Resident will be returning once a month once she’s fully recovered from her injury.
- Pastoral Care and Support – I will continue to act as lead for pastoral care, including supporting our Parish Visitors and Caring Team.
- Mission Task Force – Mission is the reason we are here, why we exist, as a congregation, and helps us move forward with confidence together. This is why the Board has created a sub-committee to engage the congregation around our mission in the coming months. It will build on and reinforce the work done a couple of years ago on our mission statement, as well as our Appreciative Inquiry and Ministerial Search Discovery Sessions and Survey. Look for notice about conversation opportunities in upcoming Extras. Howell and I will both be support for this important Board work.
- Governance Task Force – As was discussed in the October Congregational Forum, the Board is appointing a Task Force that will oversee and coordinate our governance transitional process. Generally, we will follow the timeline and concept outlined in Dan Hotchkiss’ book, Governance and Ministry that many of you read and discussed over the summer. (Still available for check out in the office!). Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind
- Personnel / Human Resources Task Force – We value our employees and being a just and good employer. Which means, we need to be thoughtful and intentional in creating an effective structure that includes both professional and volunteer partnership in order to effectively and legally address all the many areas of personnel – from policies to organizational structure to compensation to benefit management and liability to work environment and professional development. As a result, the Board will be appointing a task force to work with me to review current and potential new policies, to recommend an appropriate structure to address personnel issues (in collaboration with the Governance Task Force) and to address fair compensation for our employees. This will result in an updated job description for our Personnel Committee, which we will re-institute at the conclusion of this Task Force’s work. Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley
- Committee on Shared Ministries – Previously known as the Committee on Ministry, this important team was put into recess during the transition, but as we move out of this transitional time, Howell and I look forward to its full re-instatement. Howell will work with the Board to clarify its purpose, share that with the congregation, and gather up both past Committee on Ministry members as well as new appointees as we begin again with this group whose mission remains to ensure the health and vitality of our shared congregational ministries and the right relations of our community. Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind
- Stewardship and Finance – Critical to an effective transition is successful management of our financial resources, including a successful pledge drive. I will start attending Finance meetings this month, and be a part of the Stewardship campaign and budgeting process that will begin in February. As I said throughout Candidating Week, I am very much looking forward to this part of the senior minister role, as I find that when we speak openly and non-judgmentally about money and its role in our lives, it can be as healing as any other ministry we might engage. I also find it so inspiring to experience people’s generosity in service of our shared vision – and this congregation is so generous, this is simply really fun work. Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind
- Search for the new Assistant Minister – I had a great conversation with the UUA Transitions Office last week, and as a result, we have now listed our opening for an Assistant Minister to begin next July or August with the UUA. This is just a simple notice of a job opening. In the coming months, the Board and I will convene a few forums to hear about your ideas and questions about this position and your hopes for who might fill it. The Board will also be appointing a selection committee who will work with me to identify the right fit. It will be a hired and contract position, for 2 years. This will allow us the time and space necessary to think through what we want in the long run and to make sure we have the right person for the position. Lots more information to come on this! Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley
- Nominating and Leadership Development Process – Given all the ways our congregation has changed and the changing needs for leadership today, we know we need a more robust process to identify, train and continually develop leaders in our congregation. As a result, Howell will be working with the Nominating Committee to clarify job descriptions and a process for identifying and developing congregational leaders. Howell brings a wealth of experience in facilitating this process in many other congregations, and so we are lucky to have him with us as we address this very important need in our congregation. Ministerial Lead: Rev. Howell Lind
- Faith Foundations – I learned a lot over Candidating Week about the learning and reflecting opportunities we need to set a foundation for the coming years together. I realized we need to be talking more about generational changes, the cultural shifts happening in society, the history of Unitarianism and Universalism – especially three of our sources – Protestant/Heretical Christianity, Transcendentalism, and Humanism – as well as trends in today’s Unitarian Universalism, the ideas and practice of covenant, and emotional/family systems. As a result, we intend to focus most of our offerings in Religious Exploration in the next 5 months in these areas. We’ll offer opportunities in a variety of ways – classes, small groups, online options, spiritual practices, book groups, and forums – and in a variety of days/times, with a variety of commitment-level options, and targeted to all the life stages and ages present in our congregation. Our hope and goal is that by the end of May, a good number of you will feel more confident and clear in these important areas of our faith so that we can set a stronger foundation for what we are up to, and why, as a religious community and as individual Unitarian Universalists. Ministerial Lead: Rev. Gretchen Haley
- A few other important things: Howell will be initiating our new Hospitality Learning Community, helping us to enhance our welcome, especially on Sunday mornings. I will be working with the Climate Justice Team, especially in March and April as we continue to strengthen our congregational engagement with sustainability and care for the earth. We will also continue and strengthen our partnerships in addressing homelessness, economic justice and immigration and racial justice related issues – especially in the ways all these things are connected. Our campus ministry is growing, we are offering targeted programming to meet all of life’s stages and ages in our community – from new parents to empty-nesters to elders, and we continue to experiment in partnership with the UU Church of Greeley to bring our values and faith to more of our northern Colorado community.
Phew! That’s a lot! Good thing it all sounds like fun and enlivening work! And good thing it is work done in partnership, with all of you.
Questions? Things I left off you are wondering about? Let me know. As I said, this is an evolving understanding of what is needed and what will work best to facilitate a healthy and smooth transition in the next few months. I’m so looking forward to all that this second half of this church year will bring, and the foundation it will set for the many years ahead. Thank you for all you have done, and all you will do to help bring all this goodness into our community and our world.