Exploring Calling – A Reflection on the Recent “Called to Be” Workshop by Rosemary Coslit

I was immediately drawn to the “Called to Be” workshop held at Foothills in late September. I am recently retired and though I love hiking and biking, I have felt a need for something with more meaning. I hoped the day would give me some insight.

When it came time for the intensive “Clearness Committee” opportunities, I volunteered to be a focus person and describe my problem/issue to the group, who would ask me objective questions (as opposed to giving me advice). It was a little intimidating to be discussing my life with people I didn’t know (will they judge what I say?), and I probably didn’t trust that this group, with no experience of this method or knowledge of me, could offer much.

But, I was wrong. Each person asked questions that were from a different perspective – many with laser insight! By not offering me solutions, I felt supported in coming to my own conclusions. As the group asked questions, I could hear my answers. I could hear what I said….and what I didn’t.  I could hear myself trying to justify some of my volunteer activities, and the lack of conviction in my voice. I could hear the examples I used, and how I talked about moving from New York (and being new to Colorado) as much as needing to find more meaning ; and realizing how these were clearly connected.

The most helpful part was the mirroring where each person in the group could say what they heard ME say. They told me where they heard energy and excitement. And where they didn’t.  I learned that my words and my face could tell different stories. (I trust my face- my words tend to be what I ‘should’ do).  I also knew the feedback was correct.

Why couldn’t I do this on my own? I don’t know. The ‘Clearness Committee’ does just that- it takes the jumble of things in your mind, and gives clarity. Maybe it highlights what you knew all along.

After this experience, I knew what to pursue, and what to let go. That sounds so simple, but trying to do this alone was a round and round experience of getting nowhere – I brought no new insights to myself. Based on the group’s input, I have already made some changes in my current volunteer work. It is gratifying to better understand that what I felt I ‘should’ be doing may not be a good fit for me.

At the end I felt, and I hope the group felt, that we had accomplished something important. They had helped me define my path forward. I felt close to these people who were learning about my life and giving me loving attention. It is so interesting that a group of people, who had never met me, could be so helpful.


Appreciative Inquiry Results – from the Transition Team

We began our Appreciative Inquiry Process in January with a series of workshops and conversations where members could share their stories about the church and their sense of our core values and their dreams for our future.  A summary of that process can be found here.

Since those conversations concluded in mid-February, the interview summary sheets were typed into a spreadsheet, and then that spreadsheet was given to a Analysis Team headed by Tim Pearson and including Carolyn Mita, Peg MacMorris, and Ruth Rice.  The Analysis Team produced a report summarizing the trends and information in the sheets.

Additionally, in the workshops themselves, groups of 6 participants came together and summarized their self-understanding of their own trends and most important points.  This information has been captured on a 2-sided single sheet called “Our Appreciative Trends from the Summary of Six Conversations.”

Next, our Provocative Proposals team of Lenny Scovel, Anne Haro-Sipes, Clay Carter and Brendan Mahoney used these two ways of summarizing the interview data to create vision statements.  These statements were to be: stated in the affirmative, linked to a dream acknowledged in the data, and based in a strength already existing in the congregation.   The team came up with a total of 20 Provocative Proposals that can now be used as the starting point for the Board and the Search Committee and for any other leadership body to use as a jumping off point for a strategic plan as well as other plans for our future.   Throughout the next few months, we will engage these Proposals through an interactive display, and in August and September, there will be a series of Chalice Lighting reflections around each of these Proposals.

Thanks to the many people who participated in this process, and to the Analysis and Provocative Proposals Teams for your time and attention and care to summarize and distill and discern the core messages and possibilities within these conversations.  This is a great beginning for our ongoing process of looking ahead and creating the church of the future.

– Transition Team: Anne Hall, Chris Frey, Lenny Scovel, Bob Bacon and Jen Iole

Appreciative Inquiry Documents (paper copies are available in the office): 

Appreciative Inquiry at Foothills

Guest post from Joan Woodbury, Transition Team Member

Tell your story, dream your dream.

As our congregation transitions from one successful ministry to the next, we are taking the time to celebrate our past and appreciate our present before we turn towards the future.   In November and December we had an opportunity to become more familiar with the church’s history, to hear personal remembrances about the past from our own members and to be a part of our collective timeline. In January and February we turn our attention to the present with Appreciative Inquiry.

As described on the UUA website, Appreciative Inquiry uses positive questions and interviews to focus on how a church functions at its best. It is the cooperative search for what is best in our church. During the process, we use specific questions to discuss our own experiences and to generate hopes and dreams for the future.

The process begins with one-on-one interviews with each other in the presence of facilitators. We then come together in larger groups to continue the conversations and learn from each other. The information we gather will help us with another step in the search process – information for the search committee about what we all value and what we want for our church in the years to come.

This is an important step in this interim period and the more people who participate the more meaningful it will be.
Please join us!

There are currently six (6) sessions scheduled and you need only attend one session:

Wednesday, January 21st – 5:30 to 7pm (before Choir practice)
Sunday, January 25th – 12:30 to 2 (after second service)
Saturday, January 31st – 9 to 11:30
Tuesday, February 3rd – 6:00 pm
Thursday, February 12th – 2 to 4pm
Friday, February 13th – 6:00 pm (during Fab Family Friday)

Tell Us Your Story, From Interim Senior Minister, David Keyes

Rev. Haley and I sometimes meet at Everyday Joe’s in Old Town, a coffee shop operated by the evangelical Timberline Church.

Whatever you might think of their theology, there can be little doubt that the volunteers at Joe’s make a mean latte, and that the church serves the campus and community in many constructive ways.

On a visit to Joe’s the other day, I picked up a flyer inviting all to “Tell us your story.” The text seems a little like it could have been written for Foothills Unitarian:

“[We] are changing. We can feel it in the air.

We might stay where we are. We might need to rethink what it means to be a benefit & service to our community.

What does the neighborhood need?

What does it all look like?

Only the Good One knows, but it will probably blow all our minds when we see it.

Tell us your story about this place. Stories remind us of where we’ve been, They’re the topography of who we have become.

They are clues to where we are going….Tell us yours.”

If I didn’t know better, I might suppose that Timberline had borrowed a piece of the message of Foothills’ Transition Team. They, too, are asking folks to dream dreams and tell stories–all toward a tomorrow when your church serves members and the community in creative new ways. You’ll be hearing more about that soon for the Transition Team, and from special guest Rob Eller-Isaacs, one of our movement’s most effective and experienced leaders, who will be in the pulpit on December 7.

I look forward to hearing from you about the “topography of who you have become.”