This is the first of many meetings both large and small that will take place to inform members about our recent and past strategic planning work. Since many of you joined UUFP in the past several years a little history lesson is in order to bring you up to date on our previous planning efforts.
We moved into our current location on Youngs Mill Lane (that was designed to accommodate 75-100 people) in 1980 with approximately 50 members. Newer members may not know that previous planning committees since 1995, have indicated the need for more space. The last time this building was expanded was nearly 30 years ago. In 1990 the Fellowship was expanded to enlarge the sanctuary and the Caum room was added for additional meeting space.
Five years later (1995) a Facility task force ranked its highest priorities as follows:
In 2001 the Policy Board took steps to seek out a new church building or arrange for the purchase of an existing building. There was a lack of RE space and no offices for staff. Fast forward to 2007 the board hired Frankie Price Stern a UUA capital campaign consultant. We reviewed our history to that point and growth projections were made. The congregation was poised for growth but once again hampered by a lack of space. We learned that a congregation of our size will typically not grow beyond our current size of 150-160--unless we increased our square footage. We also learned that any plan to proceed must recognize three main areas which needed to balance as we grow in membership:
In 2010 the congregation called Reverend Andrew Millard to be our full time minister. Happily, the first phase of a 2007 long range plan was completed with our purchase of the administrative building next door. Yes we bought a building! This provided much needed office space for Joanne and Andrew, with a large conference room. It was exciting! So in a sense we felt our space crunch ease up a bit.
In 2013 the planning committee was revived with Mason Moseley as the chair. A five year plan in 2015 once again indicated the need to renovate our current property or find an existing property on the peninsula. When I became board president in 2015 I realized that we needed to update our former mission and vision to address the needs of the current congregation. In February of 2017 leadership met with Kathy McGowan from the UUA southern region to discuss a process to:
So, in 2017 our congregation met to define our essential core values Wonder, Love, Service and Generosity. We agreed in June 2018 that our mission was to “Grow in Wonder, Connect in Love, Engage in service and Inspire Generosity.” Since that time we have been living out our mission and have begun to prepare for the next steps by working on a new five year plan or process for our future.
On July 13 of this year, about a third of our congregation met for a workshop to create a new vision of what UUFP would look like in five years. Many ideas and wishes were expressed about what the congregation will do in the future and Andrew summarized all of our ideas (in order of the most universally supported) as follows:
Everyone present on July 13th was asked to write down what they liked best about UUFP. By a large majority, “community” was the answer. Reverend Andrew has suggested that perhaps “our purpose is Community, practicing it as deeply and thoroughly as we can within or beyond our walls." Also, this year, the Planning Committee has been gathering five year goals from our committees and collated that data to see how it aligns with our vision.
Yes we have been busy!! And I am grateful for all who have contributed their time to these efforts over the years. This work will bring us to understand our shared vision for the Fellowship’s future and we will begin to define a process to get there.
So after nearly 30 year, it is time for us to make a decision. As many of you know, the policy board will be asking the congregation to make a decision in March. Can our vision can be realized in our current location or in a new location?
Change is inevitable, invigorating and challenging. I get excited when I envision us all worshiping together in one service and creating spaces for middle school and high school age kids to call their own. I have no doubt that if we are guided by our vision of who we want to be in this community both inside and outside of our walls we will make the best decision for those of us already here and for those families who have yet to discover what we have to share.
In closing I would like to share the words of our former interim minister Rev. Don Vaughn Forrester from 2008: “I would hope that whatever this congregation eventually does will strengthen the use of reason, ethical responsibility and religious development within itself and promote such virtues in the larger community. Whatever you pursue, I hope UUFP will grow to be even more an oasis of reason and acceptance….than it already is."
This year, we are taking our monthly themes from “Soul Matters”, a network of Unitarian Universalist congregations who follow the same themes for the purpose of sharing worship, music, religious education and small group resources.
Unless otherwise noted, services include sermons preached by the Rev. Andrew Clive Millard and take place at 9:30am and 11:15am on Sundays.
December 1st: “What Are We Waiting For?”
Advent is a time of waiting in preparation for Christmas. We may mark that time by lighting the candles on an Advent wreath and by opening the doors on an Advent calendar. Is that all there is when it comes to waiting, though? What might we do to prepare ourselves for what is to come?
December 8th: “‘Tis the Season”
The best of Christmas invites us to celebrate the best of our humanity. From faith, hope and love to peace, joy and generosity, the values lifted up by the holidays call us to live into our better selves, and not just for a few weeks but for the whole year. Let’s reflect on how we can do that together.
December 15th: “Night Magic”
When do you feel the presence of the Divine or your communion with your own soul? Many things can cause us to sense our spiritual self more acutely then we normally do. Jim Sanderson will explore through readings and a homily how the Night can awaken him to the wonder of all.
UUFP President Jim Sanderson is a long-time Unitarian Universalist. He has served as chair of the Sunday Services Committee, as Vice President, and as a Fellowship Circle facilitator. Before joining the Fellowship, Jim was the minister of the Jenkins UU Fellowship in Petersburg and served as chair of the Religious Education Committee at First UU in Richmond.
7pm on Tuesday December 17th: “Blue Holidays”
Sometimes the holidays are hard, but we often put pressure on ourselves to “be jolly”, at least around others. It might be helpful to acknowledge our complex feelings about the holidays. Come light a candle, share a memory, support a friend. Bring a meaningful ornament, the photo of a loved one, a token of hope for the future, or simply the gift of your presence.
Childcare will be available, and tea and cookies will be offered after the service.
December 22nd: “Measure in Love”
How do you love? Does love hold you, fill you, fling you into the world? Whom do you love? Are there family members or friends, close to you or far away, living or departed, their faces in your heart? Does your love reach out, to heal, to comfort, to feed the hungry and warm the cold?
Special music will be provided by the fabulous ChorUUs!
Christmas Eve Services!
5pm on Tuesday December 24th: “The Story of Christmas”
7pm on Tuesday December 24th: “Wise Women Know Better”
We hold two services on Christmas Eve! The earlier is a family service using puppets to tell the story of the birth of Jesus, reflecting on the joy and hope this story can bring to our lives; the later tells a modern story of the magi and how they might have needed some help to make their journey. Each service features traditional Christmas carols and concludes with the beloved ceremony of passing the flame.
At both services, special music for Christmas will be provided by the UUFP Winds!
December 29th: “Of Time and Family”
As we look ahead to new year, let’s pause to reflect on the joys and sorrows of the year that is now coming to a close. We’ll remember those in our community who died, whose absences we feel in our hearts, and we’ll celebrate the new lives amongst us with the ceremony of child dedication.