President’s Letter: March 2019

Hello UUFEC-

This past Saturday, UUFEC was honored with a ‘New Minister’s Start-Up Workshop’facilitated by Reverend Kenn Hurto, a long time UU minister and former lead of theUUA’s Southern Region. The intention of this workshop was to optimize our working relationship with our new minister, Doak Mansfield, and to explore UUFEC’s ongoingoperations and vision.

I want to share with you some of the highlights from this workshop.

Ken divided his day with us, spending the first 3 hours with all ~20 members present and then the last 3 hours with our Board and Minister. Ken started by prompting us withquestions: ‘Why does UUFEC exist?’, ‘What role does UUFEC fill in our community and in our lives?’, ‘What makes the UU faith different from other faiths?’. He spent timeexamining structures of church process and communication, looking at how churches function, the values they need to keep in mind, and how UUFEC fits into and partners with our local Emerald Coast community in growing our faith.

We also took time to review our history. People shared from recent and distant past memories (thanks to the long-time members Karen and Denny Lauer and Cecile Lindegren!) their favorite times, such as previous Coffee Houses, July 4th picnics, 2ndhour groups, bridging ceremonies, doing our donation project to Afghanistan, or painting the church, etc. We also looked back at difficult times such as the struggles the church encountered in moving to its current location and changing our name; struggles with financial difficulties and difficulties with severe grief and anger that seemed to nearly tear us apart. It was hard to believe such stories of strife could have ever taken place here when looking around at the positivity and energy present today. Ken explainedthat the conflicts and pivotal events in UUFEC’s past shape who we are today and should be remembered to understand their influence upon us.

We examined the role that our minister plays at UUFEC. Ken led us in an enlighteningexercise: He reviewed the roles of a minister, divided into the “4 P’s”: Preacher, Pastor(caring for church members in need), Prophet (helping to run the day-to-day churchoperations) and Promotor (UUFEC’s visible presence in our community). We found thatmost of us want Doak to emphasize his time as Preacher and Pastor more than the other 2 functions. Ken helped the Board and Doak examine what it means to be a half- time minister and the importance of adhering to this restriction on his work with UUFEC.

Ken spent a great deal of time with the board on examining UUFEC’s structure andfunction, how we utilize committees, the importance of a congregation-wide covenant of Right Relations, how to be a safe congregation and especially on the importance of ourMission Statement and the role this statement needs to play in our church’s day to dayoperations.

Ken also praised UUFEC for the vibrancy of our community, the care that we show to each other and our building and the strong dedication of the members and minister here today.

At the end, people came away with new ideas in inspirations, some big and some small- some of which I have listed below:

  • Put up signs, symbols, and pictures in a loud visual display that we are a Green Sanctuary; We are a Welcoming Sanctuary; We are a Diverse, Multiethnic, Community.
  • Get more UUFEC T-shirts
  • Give all members, and even friends, work to-do. When people work here, they are pouring themselves into and becoming part of the UUFEC fabric. They can step back and take pride in being part of something greater.
  • Build deeper connections with our immediate Emerald Coast Community
  • We must reach out to groups in our community that aren’t represented well here to bring them in: Christians, African-Americans, Latinos, blue collar workers, to name a few
  • Learn more deeply about our surrounding Emerald Coast community to see the needs that exist here and the best way that UUFEC can fill these needs
  • Promote that UUFEC is a unique place here, where truly open dialogue of differing faiths is encouraged
  • Our church has saved lives and needs to keep saving lives by being an embracing, loving, supportive community.
  • Explore more about what it means to be “the Beloved Community” that we strive for
  • Be diligent in making our communications understandable to new comers and guests, avoiding jargon or undefined complex esoteric concepts or excessive abbreviations. Every Service and presentation should be relatable to a 1st time guest to UUFEC.
  • Be a safe place for people of different values and opinions, and this must bebalanced with UUFEC’s need to take stands on divisive issues
  • We Board members need to focus some more on our long-term planning
  • Spend more time on leadership development among our members
  • Thank the people that do the work here frequently, visibly, and meaningfully.
  • Our Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based and Owned by a committed individual
  • Having fun at church (and in life) is important!
  • Continue to treat each other kindly and with respect

There is lots of work to be done, but we have had great success so far. Thank you to those of you who were able to attend and participate in this wonderful workshop and, thank you to all who continue to do the work of building our beloved community.

Gil Brown

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)