News from the Growing Together Task Force—December 22, 2018

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Thanks to everyone who completed the Two Services Survey we sent out a few weeks ago. 176 people responded and offered helpful feedback about how the Religious Exploration (RE) schedule, the two services, and parking are working. See a summary of the survey results below.

Attendance at Sunday services since September has confirmed our need for two services. Half the Sundays since September had an attendance of 270 or greater, which is 94% of our seating capacity, and two Sundays exceeded 300, well beyond the sanctuary capacity. This is a significant increase over attendance in the fall of 2017. Having two services offers comfortable seating for all who want to be part of our Sunday services.

One of the most important findings from the survey, and from the conversations that Dana Regan, our Interim Director of RE has had with families, is that holding RE classes between the two services isn’t working well for many families. Participation in RE has declined significantly since September. To create a schedule that is more family-friendly, a decision has been made to hold RE classes for pre-K through 8thgraders during the 9 a.m. service time instead of between the two services, beginning on January 6.Children will still start out with their families in the sanctuary at 9 a.m. and will go to their classes after the Time for All Ages and the Children’s Covenant. The first service will end at around 10:15 and RE classes will extend to 10:30, giving parents 15 minutes of coffee time before they pick up their children and shortening the Community Hour slightly. This change will also give adults and children a chance to interact and. get to know each other during the Community Hour. Childcare for children 3 years or younger will be available during both services. The 11 o’clock service will continue as scheduled. High school youth will meet during that time but there will no longer be Little Church for younger children.

Another survey finding is that parking on the whole seems to be working well. More than 90% of people surveyed said that they have not had trouble with parking. The Facilities Committee continues to work on parking issues, including the need for more handicapped parking, as the congregation grows.

The majority of comments about the change to two services were positive, indicating that we are adjusting. Many people appreciate having a choice service times and enjoy the intimacy of a smaller group. However, some people do miss the energy of a full to overflowing sanctuary and the social connections when everyone is together in a single service. The Community Hour offers a time for those connections, but we are still working on ways to encourage more meaningful interaction during that time. Other comments included suggestions about Community Hour, a request for a quiet space for the meditation group, and the need for more volunteers. We will continue to work on these and other issues.

If you didn’t have a chance to respond to the survey, please let us know what you’re thinking—either by leaving written feedback at the kiosk or contacting Mark Hickman, Marean Jordan, Dana Regan, or Rev. Scott Rudolph.


UUFCO Religious Exploration and Two Services Survey—December 2018

A survey was sent to members and friends at the end of November to get a picture of how the two services, Religious Exploration schedule, and parking are working. A total of 176 people responded to the survey. The number of responses to the Religious Exploration questions was significantly smaller than that total because the questions were answered primarily by families with children. The largest number of responses—168—was to the question about parking. Approximately two-thirds of respondents—126—commented on the two services.

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Religious Exploration

There were 54 respondents to Questions 1: “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least satisfied and 5 being the most satisfied, how does scheduling Religious Exploration (Sunday school) between services work for you?” The weighted was 3.07 (“works o.k.”).

There were 68 responses to Question 2: “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being last satisfied and 5 being most satisfied, how would you feel if we switched RE from between services (Community Hour) to during one of the services?” The weighted average was 3.76, approaching “more satisfied.”

There were 71 responses to Question 3, “Which service time works best for Religious Exploration? 52% of responses indicated 9 a.m., while 48% indicated 11 a.m.

There were only 30 responses to Question 4, “What grades are your children/youth in?” 4 children are in nursery/pre-K; 10 are in grades K-2; 8 are in grades 3-5; 7 are in middle school, and 1 is in high school.

Parking

Question 5 focused on parking: “If you drive to church, have you had any trouble finding a parking space?” There were 168 responses. 152 (92%) indicated they had been able to find parking, while 14 (8%) indicated they had had trouble finding parking.

Two Service Schedule

There were 126 responses to the open-ended Question 6, “Any other comments about our two-service Sundays?”

85 responded with a judgment about the change from one to two services.

  • 57 (67%) responded affirmatively to the change, citing flexibility and options, better timing for each of the services, less crowding in the parking lots, and a more intimate feel in the sanctuary.

  • 13 (15%) indicated acceptance of the change, an understanding of why it is necessary, or a “wait and see” attitude

  • 15 (18%) responded more negatively to the change, questioning whether the attendance numbers justify two services, saying the church feels less welcoming, missing the energy of a full sanctuary and the opportunity to see their friends.

The following concerns or suggestions were raised in comments:

  • the challenge of sustaining choir participation at both services

  • length of the Community Hour

  • absence of informational meetings and discussions after the service on Sundays

  • the difficulty of finding a quiet place for the meditation group

  • additional work for minister and volunteers

  • distractions and noise from fidgety children during services

  • an interest in some variation in the two services: one geared more for adults and older teens, one with more music

  • need for more handicapped parking and parking closer to the front door


Second Service News — July 8, 2018

Beginning on September 16 we will be holding two Sunday morning services — at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.  Between the two services, the Religious Exploration classes will meet and there will be a time for community connections, conversation, and coffee. Ayla Halberstadt will be contacting families with more information about changes in the RE program.


Growing Together Task Force Announcement — June 10, 2018

On behalf of the Growing Together Task Force I want to thank everyone who took part in one of the five focus groups that met in the last few weeks. We had a great exchange of ideas about the rapid growth of our congregation, what we can do nurture our sense of community as we grow, and how we can make a place for all who want to be part of the Sunday worship experience. Our recent growth has been truly remarkable. Over half of our current members have joined since we moved to our new home a little over three years ago, and 25% have joined since Rev. Scott became our minister in August of 2017. You may have felt that our sanctuary is wonderfully full on many Sundays. The average number of people at Sunday services since September has been 250, and we anticipate that we will surpass the sanctuary’s seating capacity in the next year. We want to be ready to welcome all who want to join us.

We heard clearly from the focus groups that we need to be intentional about the ways we keep our community connected as we grow. We also heard people’s willingness to try out a second service. The Task Force has thus recommended to the board that we move to two Sunday morning services beginning with our ingathering on September 16. We are suggesting a congregational assessment in early January to get a picture of how the structure is working and what adjustment might be needed. We anticipate returning to a single service during the summer months. 

Our congregation already has the experience of doing two services at Christmas and Easter but there are many questions to be resolved: What time will the two services be? When will the choir sing? When will we have coffee hour? Will both services be the same? When will we have RE? Your creative ideas and input will be essential as we work out the details together over the summer.

From its beginning this congregation has had a long history of flexibility, creativity, and the will to make changes and respond to opportunities. We wouldn’t be in this beautiful building without that spirit. We are in a time of change in our community and our country. Bend is growing rapidly and people are increasingly drawn to the message of love, service, and inclusion that Unitarian Universalism offers.  Our congregational mission—seeking meaning, celebrating life, and serving the spirit of love and justice in our world—affirms that message. Part of realizing our mission is to make sure there is a place and a warm welcome for all those who want to join with us. 

The summarized notes from the focus groups will be posted soon on the Growing Together page of our website, along with names of members of the task force. If you weren’t able to come to a focus group—or even if you were—we need your ideas and would like to hear from you. And you’ll be hearing more from us throughout the summer as preparations move forward for two services in September. There are exciting times ahead!

—delivered to the congregation by Marean Jordan


The Growing Together Task Force was formed in April of 2018 at the board’s and minister’s request to engage the congregation in addressing the impact of rapid growth on the UUFCO community and planning for a second service. 

Task Force members are: Mark Hickman (co-chair), Marean Jordan (co-chair), Don Hartsough, Annis Henson, Ayla Halberstadt, Judy Hurlburt, Dennis Lazzar, Chela Sloper, and Rev. Scott Rudolph. We invite you to contact the Growing Together Task Force to share your thoughts.  

Growing Together Focus Group Notes (May/June 2018)