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 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
Growing Together Focus Groups — Summarized Notes: May/June 2018
This is a summary of the ideas generated by five small groups of members and friends that met in May and June of 2018 to discuss the impact of rapid growth on the UUFCO congregation. A total of 40 people participated in the groups.
Question 1—Why are we growing?
- warmth and welcome of UUFCO community
- all people, “ages and stages” are welcome
- “casserole” rather than anonymous congregation; spirit of caring, a place where people feel cared for and “held” in times of need
- “fellowship feel” from when we were smaller
- opportunities for social connection (Circle Suppers, kayaking, hiking, interest groups) and opportunities for spiritual growth (Sunday services, Soul Matters groups, RE classes)
- dynamic presence of our minister
- youthful, energetic spirit
- creativity, laughter and uplift
- mutual trust between congregation and minister
- great facility
- beautiful and inspiring building and setting
- RE spaces attract young families
- located in an area of growth in Bend
- known in the community through rentals, presence of community groups
- UU principles, beliefs
- freedom of thought, not dogma or creed, obligation or guilt
- there is a space for brokenness
- safe place for spiritual exploration
- emphasis on love and justice
- we’re doing a better job of articulating what we stand for
- connections to larger community
- population explosion in Bend
- visibility through interfaith, social action and justice work
- use of our building by community organizations
- political environment makes people seek a liberal community based on shared values
Question 2—What do we want to preserve, nurture and develop as we grow?
- commitment to social justice work; live into our mission; community outreach and visibility, Greater Community Collection
- nurture social connections, sense of community and small, medium and large group opportunities as we grow
- openness and flexibility
- “conscious inclusivity”
- meaningful rituals (joys & sorrows, children’s arch, covenant)
- offer many opportunities to explore our faith and grow spiritually
- thematic ministry
- intentional spirituality—meditation, walking the labyrinth
- music and art
- online recordings of Sunday services
- more involvement in UU regional and national work
- many opportunities for new members, friends, people of all ages to participate (Sunday services, committees, social activities, spiritual formation); honoring each person’s gifts
- integration of children and families in the fabric of our community, part of our culture
- play, laughter, creativity, informality; embrace “mistakes”
- make clear there are many ways to contribute beyond financial obligation
- caring connections and service to one another
- care and maintenance of our building and grounds
- outreach to colleges and young adults
Question 3—How do we respond to rapid growth in Sunday services (without adding another service)?
- expand into Gathering Hall
- use an overflow room where the whole service is piped and projected
- stream services so people can listen remotely (in neighborhood groups?)
- rope off back rows early to encourage people to fill in closer to front
- ushers guide late comers to stand until children leave for RE
- use choir seating on Sundays even when choir isn’t singing
- have children go directly to RE rather than start in sanctuary
- hold satellite services in other communities (esp. Redmond)
Question 4—If we expand to more than one service, what might that look like?
- early and later service (8:30 or 9:00 and 11:00) on Sunday mornings; the same or different content? one relaxed and conversational, the other more formal and structure?
- one short service (half-hour model), one longer service
- late afternoon Sunday service—more contemplative, vespers, Taize
- “folk” service on Saturday evening
- Wednesday service (informal family service; vespers; service for young adults/college group)
- Circle worship—an intimate, unplugged service (not in sanctuary?) that addresses need of a particular generational group
- multicultural services—emphasis on Latino community?
- more lay-led services
- use rooms and physical space in new ways; changed seating in sanctuary to create intimacy when groups are smaller
- coffee hour between services so people can stay connected
- children’s RE between services
- faith development groups between services
- social justice and other meetings at 9 a.m. or at the same time as one of the services
- discussion group before the service
- satellite services in Redmond/Sisters at different times
- shuttle from auxiliary parking lots to address parking issues
Things to consider as we move forward:
- growth is an opportunity rather than a problem
- don’t be afraid of change; this congregation has continued to experience change since our founding
- make changes on a trial basis before settling on final design
- keep the lines of communication open
- survey the congregation (targeted) about structures, how they want to worship
- research what other congregations do
- introduce a change in the fall or at the start of a new year
- not everything needs to be intergenerational—services can address interests and needs of a particular generational or cultural group
- acknowledge that people have different spiritual needs, thus different structures, opportunities
- use our physical spaces intentionally to create intimacy (have a dedicated “connection room” after services for deeper conversations than at coffee hour; go back to fewer chairs more widely spaced in the sanctuary)
- use this time of change as an opportunity to co-create and examine our culture, how we relate to change; this is not just abut the mechanics of a second service
- remember what we stand for and the ideas that keep us united--core issues and values, our mission
- scheduling of children’s RE
- scheduling of small group ministries and social justice informational sessions
- scheduling of meditation group
- scheduling of the coffee hour/social events
- parking (carpooling, shuttle service from parking lots, shuttle to COCC dorms and OSU, Cascade to encourage more young adult participation)
- recruiting volunteers for two services; AV needs
- choir—when will they sing? different music at two services? House band, youth choir
- impact of these changes on Scott’s and staff time?