This summer, I want to use my column to speak to you about experimentation, innovation, and change.
Scary, right? ;D
Well, as many of you have heard me say over and over again, one of my roles is to help soothe anxiety, especially when it comes to change.
This year, two of our longest-serving leaders have retired from service to the congregation — Jo’Anne Kelly as chair of Membership (the team which supports connecting visitors and providing greeters) and Nancy Gilbert as leader for the Ushers. Both groups are a vital part of our Sunday morning experience for visitors, friends, and members. With both of them retiring at the same time, the congregational staff and lay leadership is going explore how we can build on their legacy to move into the future.
For the past year, Director of Lifespan Faith Development Andrea James has been leading a Welcoming and Connecting Learning Group to study the current materials published in these areas of congregational life. We’ve also been participating in the Unitarian Universalist Association of Membership Professionals over the past year in preparation for this transition. However, as we all know, even the best of the “best practices” and ideas out there in the world are not one-size-fits-all. We are a unique congregation, and we can’t truly know if something will work for us, or how it will need to be adapted, until we have experimented with it.
Towards that end, this coming programming year, and possibly beyond, we will be doing a lot of experimenting when it comes to the welcome table, greeters, ushers, and membership orientations. It is inevitable that we will make mistakes, and we will learn from them. As Master Yoda says, “Failure, the best teacher is.” Innovation and creativity require risk, and a commitment to learning and growth of mind and knowledge. I’m looking forward to participating in these experiments with you, so that we may continue to care for each other and for all who come to us seeking their spiritual home and a gathered community.
In gratitude and faith,