The new church year has begun and we are still living, working and adapting under this global pandemic. It is hard to start another church year not being able to meet in person in our Sanctuary. The strain of isolation, fear and the innumerable unexpected stresses that have emerged in the last twenty months weigh on each of us. Finding safe ways to connect and nourish this community right now is at the forefront of the Board’s work this year.
The Air Quality Project and Tech Upgrade continue at the church building, making our beloved space safer and more accessible to this community. The Board is so appreciative of the work and expertise of staff and volunteers that continue to move these projects forward. Updates on both of these projects are available here: https://ucmvt.org/covid-19/air-quality-project/
At our annual retreat in September, members of the Board and Executive Team met with Rev. Erica Baron from the New England Region of the UUA. Erica shared and facilitated many ideas about the particular challenges facing us right now including recruitment of committee chairs and volunteers. The committee-based model of ‘getting the work done’ initially relied on the unpaid labor of “nonworking” women and later, retirees. For years, across many congregations and denominations, this model has been faltering. It was enlightening and affirming to learn this history and to recognize that UCM’s need for committee chairs and members was part of a larger trend. With Erica, we talked about recruiting volunteers through encouragement of congregants’ gifts and passions. Project-based work, which involves a clear mission and end date, makes volunteering more possible and appealing for many congregants. We also acknowledge and appreciate the continuity that can come from having one or two people involved in specific work over many years. This topic will continue to surface and be chewed over as we think about the accessibility of participation at UCM and honoring each others’ energy and commitments.
We touched upon many other topics on our retreat including how faithful risking keeps our mission centered during decision-making and intentional adaptation guides change in creative and accountable ways. Click here for more information about faithful risking. https://www.uua.org/new-england/spiritual-leadership/faithful-risking
We also named some of the ways that white supremacy appears in our governance and institutional culture. Acknowledging these and seeing alternatives are part of UCM’s commitment to inclusion and accessibility. Adopting the Eighth Principle is another part. https://ucmvt.org/the-8th-principle/
Widening the Circle of Concern, from the UUA, is an in-depth look at some of the challenges Unitarian Universalist congregations face regarding white supremacist culture. https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/cic/widening
There was much fertile ground covered at the retreat and many ideas sown!
From virtual Sunday services to masked choir practice to midweek meditation to the LSE offerings for all ages, we recognize and appreciate the hard work that all UCM staff and volunteers have done and continue to do in service to the community during this pandemic. The Board has been referencing adrienne maree brown’s work Emergent Strategies often while we ask: What does the UCM community look like? How many ways can we think of to fill our spiritual cups? We invite community members into this space of creative visioning and encourage you explore the places where your passions foster connections with others. And check the e-news for ways to engage and be nourished.
Member of the UCM Governing Board
The UCM Board: Vic Guadagno (President), Ryan Kane (Vice-President), Charlotte Root (Financial Officer), Members-at-Large: Denise Bailey, Hugo Liepmann, Ansel Ploog, and Meredith Warner.