Congregational Life Intiative

Rev. Bill Sinkford is away at a gathering of the Senior Ministers of large UU congregations this week and he invited me to write about what we are calling the Congregational Life Initiative. –Tom Disrud, Associate Minister

Do you remember when you first came to First Unitarian? Was it easy getting connected? Was it a challenge? And what about your experience now? Have you found community here at the church?

One of the consistent pieces of feedback that we receive is that finding community, getting connected, can be a challenge in a large church with a wide range of programs. As a minister who has the privilege to work with folks as they enter the system, I see some who manage to make those connections but there’s another group who never quite do that. For the folks who do make connections, it most often happens when they get into one of our program areas—joining a choir, becoming part of the Learning Community for children and youth, joining a small group. But for others they are kind of overwhelmed by all the options and don’t quite manage to find the connections they are looking for.

This year I’m working on something we are calling the Congregational Life Initiative. The goal of this work is to make First Unitarian as welcoming a place for as large a diversity of people as possible. We do so many things well here at the church: music, social justice, education for all ages. We offer a truly remarkable array of programs. I think we could do a better job, however, at helping people, particularly those who are new to the church, find not only programs to join but community as well. What I’m hoping for is that we might offer a path that would make finding that connection easier. That, at least in my current imagination, would be the starting place. From there I hope we can explore what we offer for young adults, retired folks, families with children. I hope we might offer a path that offers ongoing ways to grow spiritually.

In the bigger picture I see this as part of what we talk about most every Sunday as we welcome people to the church—that as an organization we strive to build the Beloved Community and to nurture the individual spirit.

A task group has been meeting for the last few months to articulate goals and a process for what this might look like. Members include Darin Stewart, Elle Parks, Carolyn VanWinkle, Jenn Pagliaro, Ron Walker and Lil Hosman.

As part of our process we’d like to invite the larger congregation into the conversation. You are invited to café conversations on Sunday, April 9, after each service. We’d like to hear from you about how we might better build community and enrich the relationships we have here at the church. What would be helpful from your perspective?

I hope you can join us on April 9 after each service. And in the meantime, see you in church.

In the faith,