• Congregational Record now available for viewing December 14, 2023

    The Congregational Record that was created for our ministerial search has been approved and is now live for potential candidates to review. This document captures the answers by the Ministerial Search Team to a series of questions in the UUA Ministry Search System about our congregation. We thought many of you would be interested in reading it, so we’re making it available below. If you have any questions, please contact any member of the Ministerial Search Committee.

    UUFD Congregational Record

  • What’s done and what’s next? November 28, 2023

    Ministerial Search Update

    Our HUGE thanks to the Fellowship for all of your participation to date – the Congregational Survey, Focus Groups and Cottage Meetings, Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop, Town Hall ideas and comments on Shared Ministry, and your ongoing feedback. Here’s where we are and what we can look forward to in the upcoming months:

    COMPLETED

    • Congregational Record – 51 specific questions/answers about our Congregation: religious, political, and social context from a historical and current perspective (with support from your feedback) – sent in to UUA after final approval
    • Documents packet – documents/records/UUFD histories (some that supplement the CR questions) – sent in to the UUA after final approval
    • Our Negotiating Team has been working on a possible hiring contract package, with compensation, housing, insurance, and other elements in the mix to be discussed with a potential candidate.

    WHAT’S NEXT

    • Now through mid-December: Our CR and Documents Packet are being reviewed and approved.
    • Once approved – ideally, by December 1 – the above are made available for prospective ministers to review.
    • First week of January – MSC team receives names of interested applicants.
    • January – Team Zoom interviews possible candidates and chooses final slate of pre-candidates.
    • February/March – Team invites pre-candidates to campus for in-depth, on-campus interviews, as well as hearing them preach at an out-of-town neutral pulpit.
    • March/April – Team decides on final candidate, submits name to negotiating team. Background check on minister.
    • May – Candidating week, when leaders, staff, and congregation have time to meet and interact with the candidate. Candidate will preach one Sunday or both at the beginning and end of that week. Congregation votes; if 95% vote to accept the proposed candidate as our new minister, we then can move forward, and the signed contract is sent to the UUA Transitions Office.
    • May-July – Interim Ministry finishes.
    • August 1 – New minister arrives.

    THANK YOU, UUFD, for your feedback and information, questions and concerns, and your shared ministry and support as we travel this important path together.

    Your Search Team: Allison Andersen, Bonnie Miller, Connie Jacobs, Lisa McCorry, Liz Volz, Sheryl Guy, and Tim Miller

  • “Shared Ministry” Transition Town Hall Meeting Summary from October 15, 2023 November 9, 2023

    As part of our continued exploration of the meaning of shared ministry, the Transition Team hosted a Town Hall meeting on the topic. Perspectives from congregants were collected and provided to the Ministerial Search Committee.  We invite you to read through a summary of those results below.

    SUMMARY OF CONGREGATION PERSPECTIVES

    QUESTION #1 What do you mean when you say “Shared Ministry?”

    QUESTION #2 What are specific behaviors that demonstrate shared ministry?

    QUESTION #3 What is most important to you about having shared ministry?

    Shared Ministry as YOU see it

    Participants were asked to answer questions #1 and #2 in small groups, with the group coming to consensus on how they would answer each question.  Participants were asked to answer question #3 as an individual only.  The Transition Team collected and aggregated the answers and provided them to the Ministerial Search Committee and they reviewed all responses.

    In preparing this document, the MSC utilized information gathered from the Congregational Survey, Cottage Meetings, and Focus Groups, as well as this Town Hall meeting which the Transition Team dedicated to the topic of shared ministry. Below is a work in progress description of YOUR view of shared ministry. The topic of shared ministry is complex and ever evolving both within UUFD and the larger UUA organization. We hope to share with new minister applicants our current thinking and ultimately find a minister who will work with us to develop a unique UUFD shared ministry.

    You were heard, we processed this information, and it’s given us direction about what to communicate to ministerial applicants about our perspectives on shared ministry. In general we see shared ministry as a continuum, in which we tend to veer more toward the side of wanting more input. For instance, we want a lot of collaboration in designing our worship service.

    Below are the key topics from participants that speak to shared ministry at UUFD (in order of importance in terms of most frequently cited), along with some descriptive quotes from congregants.

    • Shared Decision making: Balance of direction, collaboration and responsibility.
      • “Co-creative, dynamic process that is guided by bylaws, policy, minister and members requiring broad participation. “
      • “The richness of the congregation is enhanced by the participation of all – which is manifested by respecting the voices of each member. “
      • “We share ownership of our spiritual home.”
    • Participation and Engagement: Building strong relationships with members (especially children) and staff.
      • “See enjoyment in staff, congregants, children, etc. when fulfilling mission (e.g., Pinesong’s feeling and energy).
      • “Minister who enjoys talking with people and is open to their thoughts and insights. Open mindedness, kindness and compassion between and among minister and congregation.”
    • Communication: Transparency, turning to wonder/curiosity, open mindedness and active listening among the minister and congregation.
      • “Good mechanism to work out perceived problems between minister and congregants.”
      • “Use our strengths and shortcomings to incorporate an attitude of why not? And how?
    • Mutual Trust: Among the minister and congregation:  
      • “The congregation needs to trust the minister and vice versa; concrete ways to build this trust; congregation that understands the minister’s role; minister who respects others’ opinions. “
      • “People feel heard and have a say in things that are important to them; and they trust the leaders (lay) to make decisions on their behalf.”
    • Sunday Service and post-service:  More input from the congregants (with a feedback system) and the Worship Arts Team.
      • “Diversity in music, sermon topics, workshops, education.”

    In shared ministry there are multiple partners including the minister, other staff, lay leaders, and congregants.  All of the partners are important and need to have agency in achieving our mission.  Shared ministry serves our mission when we work together to find the balance of power and decision-making that engages, enlivens, and enables us to accomplish our work. On a final note, shared ministry is between all members.  Anyone furthering the mission of the fellowship is considered to be in ministry and is potentially practicing shared ministry.

    For more detailed information contact Allison Andersen at allisonindurango@aol.com.

  • UUFD Cottage Meetings and Focus Groups Summary November 8, 2023

    UUFD Cottage Meetings and Focus Groups Summary

    (with references to the Congregational Survey)

    October 2023

    The Ministerial Search Committee was supported by members of the Healthy Congregation Committee and the Transition Team in conducting 11 discussion and information gathering meetings related to our search for our next Settled Minister.  Five Cottage Meetings and six Focus Groups were held in September and October with a total of 88 participants.  The six Focus Groups included:  1) Board of Trustees and Finance; 2) Social Responsibility and Justice Coordinating Team; 3) Parents; 4) Staff; 5) Children and Youth; 6) Worship Arts Team.

    Participants in Cottage Meetings were asked these two questions:

    • Looking back after our new minister has been with us for a year, what achievements will make you say you’re glad the new minister is among us?
    • How do we build our congregation for the future?

    Focus Group participants answered those two questions and the additional question:

    • Is there anything about selecting a minister that is particularly important to this group?

    Participants shared what they believed to be most important based on their understanding and experience in our Fellowship and its activities.  Individuals were direct and forthright in expressing their views and respectful in listening to the views of others.  All responses were charted, collected and aggregated for analysis by the members of the Ministerial Search Committee.

    Review of the small group responses revealed a variety of helpful perspectives about the priorities, values, and concerns of the congregation.  While not everyone expressed the same views, there was a remarkable level of coherence among the responses.  There were some themes that were particularly strong that ran throughout the meetings.  These major themes, in no ranked order as all are of equal importance, are described here:

    Shared Ministry

    As a congregation we are deeply engaged and committed to our Fellowship and want to be an active partner with the minister in shaping our future, our priorities, and our ways of carrying out our mission. This theme was also expressed in the Congregational Survey – 86% of the respondents (97) to a question about the meaning of shared ministry chose “As leader, the minister includes others in making decisions and we all help to do the work of ministry.” 81.6% of the respondents (98) selected strongly agree [39.8%] or agree [41.8%] to the survey item “In shared ministry, it is important that lay leaders and congregants share decision-making power.” There is hope for a minister who welcomes collaboration, co-creating and co-leading.

    Worship

    There were many expressions of desire for fuller inclusion as partners with the minister in decisions about worship services.  Within worship, there were subthemes about what mattered to people:

    • Music that is varied, contemporary, appealing to younger generation
    • Sermons that inspire us, bring spiritual and soulful nourishment
    • Practices that honor our commitment to personal connections, e.g. Joys and Sorrows shared aloud within the service

    When asked on the Congregational Survey to select the top five roles felt to be important for our future minister, 87% selected “Co-creating inspiring and challenging Sunday services.” This was the most frequently chosen item of all roles.

    Relationships

    Many comments were made about the importance of relationships, both congregation-minister and individuals with each other.  Among the most highly prized characteristics of our Fellowship are that we are warm, friendly, and close with one another.  People, relationships, friendship/community and welcoming/inclusion was also consistently top ranked on the Congregational Survey as one of the favorite things about UUFD. We seek a minister who is warm and open-hearted, accepting, and who loves forming caring relationships with adults and with children, supporting us in our emphasis on multi-generational connections.  We place a high value on a minister who enjoys spending time with and interacting with kids.

    A prime feature of our desired relationship with the minister is that the minister-congregation connection be filled with mutual trust.  We want shared trust and respect in leading and carrying out the work of our mission, whether volunteer or staff.

    Growth

    There were multiple responses about the desire for growth in our congregation, though not an unfocused or thoughtless emphasis on growth. We recognize we need to aim for growth that we can manage well and that supports our mission.  We have a fervent desire to attract more families and children to our Fellowship, as well as greater diversity.  There were many ideas expressed for expanding our visibility and connection in the community as a way to increase our opportunity to attract people, especially families and broader diversity.  We hope for a minister who has experience with growth in general, and specifically with growing the diversity of both staff and members.

    Social Justice

    The congregation is deeply committed to social justice work and wants a minister who shares that commitment.  We seek a minister who is willing to be out in the community with us to support justice work and help us strengthen our connections and impact.   Of the 100 responses to the Congregational Survey question “What do you perceive the top three functions of our congregation to be?” almost 75 % of the responses included some statement about the importance of social justice/action.

    Problem-solving

    We continue to develop norms and processes for dealing with issues and conflicts, and benefit from the work of our Healthy Congregation Committee. On the Congregational Survey, a little less than half the respondents selected either agree or strongly agree to the statement “We do a good job of having difficult conversations and staying in relationship.” Almost 40% were neutral on this statement. Growth is occurring, and we would appreciate the support and leadership of a minister in helping us continue our development of ways to work toward resolution of challenges that honors our covenant with one another.

    An interesting observation could be made about another strand that seemed to weave through the comments made by meeting participants.  There were hopes voiced about wanting a renewed sense of energy and vitality and joy in our congregation, even fun.  The long period of time that includes the changes and isolation of multiple years of Covid and its impact, and the prolonged transition period from January 2022 until August 2024 when we anticipate our new minister beginning with us, is likely taking a toll on everyone. The positive news is how genuinely hopeful the congregation is about our future and ready to be part of creating the vibrancy we seek.  We look forward to welcoming a new minister to join us in this adventure.

  • Congregational survey results are in! October 19, 2023

    One hundred and two of you responded to our congregational survey – are you curious what was revealed? What are our favorite things about UUFD? What are the top roles we want our next minister to play? What kinds of change would challenge us the most? See below for the full overview. Congregational Survey Overview (1)

  • Keith Kron to lead “Beyond Categorical Thinking” October 2, 2023

    We are pleased to share more information about our leader for the “Beyond Categorical Thinking” workshop on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 am to 12 noon in Bowman Hall. Rev. Keith Kron will also deliver the homily via Zoom on Sunday, Oct. 22.

    Keith is the Director of the Transitions Office for the UUA, helping congregations and ministers as they navigate the ministerial search process.

    He is the former Director of the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns for the Unitarian Universalist Association.  He held that position for over 14 years, from 1996-2010.

    Keith has visited over 450 UU congregations across the continent, helping them in Welcoming Congregation work, Beyond Categorical Thinking workshops, and public witness.

    A former elementary school teacher, Keith also has taught an online class for Starr King School for the Ministry, our UU seminary in Berkeley, on children’s literature.  He also leads workshops on the enneagram, plays and teaches tennis, and collects children’s books in his spare time (he has over 9,000 of them!).

    Keith is 62 years old and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Read more at https://www.uua.org/people/keith-kron.

    Please sign up for the workshop with MSC member Liz Volz at warmandwise@gmail.com, so we can plan our space and numbers for our lunch order.

     

     

  • “Beyond Categorical Thinking” (BCT) Workshop Coming! September 27, 2023

    “Will the new minister hear me? Will my concerns and needs be met? Will the minister understand what I’m living with? How will the community respond to the minister?”

    In answering these questions, a picture of the “ideal minister” — influenced by categories like age, gender identity, nationality, physical or cognitive ability, race, sexual orientation, etc. — may come to mind.

    With this picture in place, it can be easy to unintentionally exclude ministers who fall into certain categories. At times, we get caught up in comparing candidates to our “picture”; we can even forget what it is we hope for in a minister.

    On the weekend of October 20 – 22, UUFD will participate in the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop offered by the UUA. On Friday afternoon, the MSC team will meet with Keith Kron, our UUA Transitions Office representative. Keith will also lead the Saturday workshop and deliver the homily via Zoom for Sunday’s service.

    The workshop will be in-person on Saturday, October 21, from 9 am to noon, in the Sanctuary, followed by lunch. The program is designed to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent discrimination in the search process for a new minister. We will consider the hopes, expectations, and concerns for a new minister. We will learn more about the ministerial search process and explore how thinking categorically about people sometimes interferes with choosing the best candidate.

    Come on Saturday, October 21, from 9am – noon, to participate in this UUA-sponsored workshop. The selection of a minister is important. This BCT workshop is another opportunity for everyone in our Fellowship to be a part of that process. This experience will provide guidance for the MSC in our work.

    Please sign up with MSC member Liz Volz at warmandwise@gmail.com, so we can plan our space and numbers for our lunch order.

  • Cottage Meetings have changed! September 15, 2023

    Cottage Meetings have changed. The available times are now:

    Sun, 9/17: 8:45 – 9:45am

    (Sun, 9/24: 11:15 is full, not cancelled.)

    Thurs, 9/28: 12-1pm

    Sat, 9/30: 2-3pm

    Sun, 10/8: 8:45-9:45am & 11:15-12:15

    All meetings are one hour long and will take place at Bowman Hall.

    If you have not signed up yet or need to change times, contact Liz Volz at: warmandwise@gmail.com.

    Share your opinions! Be a part of this important Search!


  • Activities on the horizon September 14, 2023

    UUFD members and friends make a difference in our Ministerial Search process. During September and October, please participate in the following upcoming opportunities, to ensure your voice has been heard:

    FOCUS GROUPS/COTTAGE MEETINGS

    You will be encouraged to share more deeply your thoughts related to selecting our new Settled Minister.  The Focus Group/Cottage Meeting schedule is as follows:

    • Saturday, 9/16, 10 am – Worship Arts Focus Group.
    • Sunday, 9/17, 8:45 am – Cottage Meeting; 11:15am – Cottage Meeting.
    • Sunday, 9/24, 8:45 am – Social Justice Focus Group; 11:15am – Cottage Meeting.
    • Tuesday, 9/26, 5:30 pm – Board and Finance Focus Group.
    • Wednesday, 9/27, 1 pm – Staff Focus Group.
    • Thursday, 9/28, noon – Cottage Meeting.
    • Saturday, 9/30, 4 pm – Cottage Meeting.
    • Sunday, 10/1, 8:45 am – Parents Focus Group; 10:30am – Children and Focus Groups during FF classes.

    All Focus Groups and Cottage Meetings will last one hour and will be located in Bowman Hall. Cottage Meeting sign-ups will be available after Sunday services.

    OCTOBER OPPORTUNITY/HEADS UP

    We will be hosting a workshop facilitated by a UUA trainer – either “Beyond Categorical Thinking” (BCT) or “Breaking Barriers, Building Beliefs” – to be scheduled one of the final two October weekends. Issues around race/ethnicity, gender/gender identity, disabilities and health concerns, and sexual orientation will be addressed. The whole congregation is encouraged to participate; MSC members are expected to attend; and congregational leaders are strongly encouraged to attend. Hosting the workshop signals to members and potential ministers alike our commitment to full equality and ongoing learning about anti-racism and anti-oppression.

    We are committed to this thorough process with transparency throughout, in covenant and with confidentiality when necessary. We take this mission seriously and look forward to sharing this continuing sacred journey.

    Your MSC members: Allison Andersen, Bonnie Miller, Connie Jacobs, Lisa McCorry, Liz Volz, Sheryl Guy, and Tim Miller


  • Coming Soon! From the MSC… August 17, 2023

    Two significant opportunities are coming up in August and September for UUFD members and friends to provide important information to the Ministerial Search Committee.  In August you will be invited to complete a Congregational Survey and answer questions that will uncover more clearly who we are, what we value, and what we see as our challenges and opportunities. The survey results will be shared with the congregation and will be included in our ministerial search packet.  

    In September the MSC will be hosting Cottage Meetings (open to all) and Focus Groups (invited participants connected to specific responsibilities e.g. Board, staff, worship team…) where you will be encouraged to share more deeply your thoughts related to selecting our next Settled Minister.  This information will also be shared and will be included in the ministerial search packet.

    Later in the Fall, on an October date to be determined, we will be hosting a program facilitated by a trainer from the UUA.  We will be assigned either Beyond Categorical Thinking” (BCT) or “Breaking Barriers, Building Beliefs, the latter an update to BCT that includes some learnings from the UUA Commission on Institutional Change.  Issues around race/ethnicity, gender/gender identity, visible and invisible disabilities and health concerns, and sexual orientation are addressed in the workshop. The whole congregation is encouraged to participate; members of the MSC are expected to attend; congregational leaders are strongly encouraged to attend.  Potential ministers are encouraged to seek out what a congregation learned.  By completing the program, congregations send a message to all their members and potential ministers about their commitment to full equality and ongoing learning about anti-racism and anti-oppression. 

    Watch for more details in coming:

    Each person makes a difference in this search process as you fully participate in opportunities to make your voice and perspective be heard.