Reflections: Transformation

When I first joined the Board some three years ago I recall that the “hot topics” of the day were the approval the Share the Plate program to split the Sunday offering with the Cause of the Month, parking pressures and the adoption of a second service, and the expansion of the building.  At the same time the Board was considering governance topics such as the movement from a small “family” type of congregational structure to that of more “corporate” type structure with all the organizational and policy changes that entailed.  Those seemed to be fraught times with long discussions over how Share the Plate would work, whether or not we really needed a second service, and how we would ever be able to plan for a building expansion much less fund it.

Now, three years later, those conversations seem long ago and far away.  They are almost buried in the mists of time and the sharp edges around them have worn away.  Today, the Share the Plate program helps contribute to an average of $15,000 a year given to the various causes designated by UUFA for receipt of half of our offerings each month.  It is such a success that it has been jokingly suggested that we become our own Cause. The second service has become so well established that it is now developing its own program format.  Attendance is steady with a hard core group of early risers coming each Sunday.  With the establishment of second service discussions about parking became a little less earnest. As for the building expansion, we went from a closet full of plans started, looked at, and put away to the actual hiring of an architectural firm, the presentation of real plans, and the raising of over one million dollars. Talk about a transformation.  We still continue to have conversations about our transformation from a small congregation to a mid-size congregation and what that entails, but everyone is aware that we have undergoing a sea change and that times are changing in dramatic fashion.

As I look back on how hard some of those conversations seemed three years ago, I realize that they were only small steps to larger conversations we are engaging in now.  As we transformed our conversations have transformed as well.  We’ll soon have hard discussions about the physical transformation of our building. These discussions will focus on walls and bricks and mortar and landscaping.  As fraught as these conversations will be we will also engage in difficult discussions about, governance, ministry, justice, and our continuing mission both inside our own community and with the community at large. These conversations will seem all consuming but I am confident that looking back three years from now the sharp edges that come with them will have worn down and that our congregation will be engaged in new transformative temporal and spiritual conversations. –Rich Rayburn, UUFA Treasurer