Desert Notes May 18, 2023
This time of year I begin to prepare for strategic planning processes–its a time to review the year, our shared work, and to plan how we will make adjustments for next year. Because I have a Masters Degree in Public Administration (with an emphasis in Strategic planning/assessment) I like to wrap up by getting feedback from folks that I and our staff have worked closely with so we can use the summer to convene groups and conversations around what we’ve done well, what needs improvement/attention, and what we might try that’s new.
You have heard me talk about the new Committee on Shared Ministry (CSM), and maybe you’re wondering about that phrase “shared ministry.” This is a perspective that says we are all doing this work together, and so we must assess the work as it’s being done by both staff members and lay leaders. This allows us to look at a bigger picture and understand, for example, how the board and the minister are doing the work of policy governance; how the minister and the worship associate team, music team, and tech teams are providing Sunday services; how the Director and Assistant of Faith Formation and classroom teachers/volunteers are providing faith development; how the the Director of Music Ministry and the various music programs as well as music committee are providing music ministry opportunities for members and how the administrator and the committees/volunteers he works with are keeping our administrative tasks working. With these assessments we can focus our attention in ways that will help both staff and lay leaders make course corrections, explore new opportunities, and repeat success. Sometimes we notice where this partnership between staff and lay leaders is working well or we may notice where the roles and responsibilities need more definition, communication or other changes. This perspective assumes that these are always shared–that the work cannot be done by either side alone.
Since no staff evaluations of any kind have been done in several years, dating to well before COVID, this work will be more complex this year. It is also significantly different for this congregation to have a minister who has this background and is prepared to lead in this way. I hope that you will find this a welcome change and will see the benefits of my leadership capacities and style. (I hope that this is, in fact, why you called me!)
The Committee on Shared Ministry has been helping me and the Board of Trustees look at some areas of conflict and stress in our congregational system, and we have begun talking with a conflict management professional, Rev. Dr. Samantha Wilson. She is a UU minister whose vocation includes addressing conflict in our congregations. We hope to be making a proposal to the new board about some opportunities to work on these areas of conflict and stress in our community with Rev. Sam (as she likes to be called). This work is important to the vitality of this congregation and its future.
I continue to invite each of you to set up time to talk to me in person if you haven’t already. Understanding your perspectives, needs, and yearnings for how this community might live its mission more fully is very important to me. Sometimes when you have “300 roommates” (members!) there can be many stories about what is happening and why. It’s important for us to have direct conversations and check out the stories we’ve heard with the actual people involved. Got a question? Come ask me. At its core, strategic planning asks us to look at how we are fulfilling (or not fulfilling) this organization’s mission. In addition, recovery from the COVID period and the multiple transitions this community has faced has meant different levels of grieving, challenge and concern. Your interim period didn’t have the capacity to address all of these in the way they might have been addressed in a more normal time. Let’s give each other the space to catch up, reflect and plan our next steps together.
In gratitude for this community and our shared ministry,