The WUUC Board of Trustees held its annual retreat on August 5. This event is held early in each new church year so that board members can agree on a general plan of what they would like to accomplish during the year. (For those who are new to Westside, our church year starts on July 1 and runs through the end of June.)
At this year’s retreat, we started by talking about all the things that are going well at Westside—the things that make this place a beloved spiritual home for ourselves and others. We talked about the wonderful sense of community and the feeling of welcome we experience in the church and the congregation’s openness to new ideas and to the changes that will help us grow stronger. We talked about all the hard work members do to make the church work and about the enthusiasm with which our newcomers jump into the action. And we talked about many other things we love about Westside.
Then we moved on to talk about our dreams for the church, particularly over the next year or so. Our dreams ranged from the mundane (like cleaning up the area behind the curtain) to the sublime (like becoming financially strong and being recognized as a liberal religious voice in the community). Most of our imaginings fell somewhere in between: paying off our mortgage; improving our mutual care; cultivating the spirit of financial stewardship within the congregation; finding ways to increase income from outside sources; and simply having more fun, with more social get togethers throughout the year.
Finally, we discussed ways to make these dreams come true. Here our focus evolved into moving forward structurally as a pastoral-style church by making appropriate changes in our organizational structure and by finding ways to make Westside a financially stronger institution. We saw these as the keys that would open other doors: attracting and engaging new members, taking better care of ourselves and each other both spiritually and physically, participating more fully in denominational affairs, and making a bigger difference in our community.
To ensure that our organizational structure supports our dreams for the future, our President-Elect, Gillian Hunt, has agreed to head up an ad hoc committee to examine our bylaws, policies, and procedures and to recommend changes that will help us grow into an effective pastoral-style church. She will be looking for help, so please try to respond positively if she asks.
To promote our dream of financial strength, the board identified several initiatives to pursue in the coming year. First, we proposed forming a new Stewardship Committee that will focus on increasing revenues by coordinating and enhancing current activities, such as the auction and canvass, and developing ideas for new year-round ways to generate income. Second, we agreed to explore possibilities for a campaign to eliminate the mortgage that consumes a significant part of our budget each year. Third, we agreed to look into ways to increase outside use of our church building and grounds, which currently sit mostly empty for much of the week. The idea of marketing the church as a wedding venue struck us as particularly promising.
The board is now working on specific proposals on all these fronts. We will bring our plans for enhancing Westside’s financial strength to the congregation at the after-church potluck on October 15. At that event we will ask what you think about our proposals as well as what other ideas you have for advancing Westside’s march to become a strong, pastoral-style church. With all of us working together, there is no way we won’t reach our dreams!
Please mark your calendars now and plan to be there for this important discussion on October 15.