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Sustainable and Strong

Dear Friends,

It’s the start of another church year—Water Communion has arrived, and with it our ‘ingathering’ for another year of celebrations, learning, and growing together. Our church is a place where we share all the ups and downs of life, and strive together to be the best people—and the best community—we can be. This year, we’ll be focusing on the 7 Principles of Unitarian Universalism. And we’ll also be looking at how we can more fully live these principles in our lives and in the world.

As Board President Barry Shumpert described in his last blog, there’s a lot to be grateful for at Westside. We are doing a great job growing into a ‘pastoral’ style church. This year, we have the opportunity to continue strengthening our organization by working on both infrastructure and finances. As a church matures and grows, it calls for different structures and practices that allow it to remain strong at a new level. That’s where we find ourselves now: we are truly acting like a pastoral church (rather than a smaller ‘family’ style church). This requires us to do two important things.

  1. We need to increase our revenue to match the increased costs of staff and programs that go with a ‘sized-up’ church. This means a theological shift, as well, as we all take a little more responsibility for thinking about how our organization is financed, and creative ways we can increase funding for our church.

  2. We need to grow our organizational structure, to match our more complex way of relating to one another. This means talking about how more of us can share directly in the ministry that Westside provides, both internally and externally.

What I encourage you to remember in the coming weeks and months, as we talk about new revenue streams, and more complex organizational structures—including a new Stewardship Team which will be looking at the ministry of money all year long—is that this is fantastic evidence of success! It can be easy to see change, especially change related to finances, as a sign that ‘we’ve done something wrong.’ This is absolutely not true! As we come into a year of reviewing how we can financially sustain our church at its current level, we can be proud of the progress we’ve made to get us to this point.

Just as children growing into adults need new vehicles—growing from bicycle, to used sports car to minivan, perhaps—so, too do we need to take the next step with our financial strategies. Our goal this year is not to ‘fix’ anything that’s broken, but rather to develop new strategies for staying strong and sustainable as a solidly pastoral sized and style church.

We have some wonderful opportunities ahead of us, and your ideas and enthusiasm matter.

Please plan to attend the Oct. 15 potluck, where we’ll be discussing money, organization, and the bright future of Westside.

With deep gratitude for all that you all do,

Rev. Carol

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