By Linda Fippin, President of the Board of Trustees
I bet some of you have imagined where and when you would go if you had a time machine. Maybe you’d go back to late 18th century America to find out what the founders really meant in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Or maybe you’d go back to the time of Jesus to hear what he really said. (Having to learn ancient Aramaic would make that a heavy lift, though.) I always dreamed of going back to the Jurassic to see dinosaurs – from a safe distance, of course.
But going into the future, even if only in the imagination, seems to me scarier than the hungriest T. Rex. What would the world look like in a hundred or two hundred or five hundred years? Would climate change have rendered the planet unrecognizable, would humans have been unable to defuse their desires for conquest and unleashed the destructive forces of nuclear or biological warfare, would artificial intelligences have outstripped the minds of their creators, ruling the world and shaping it in their own image? (I think maybe I’ve read too much science fiction.)
Of course, we don’t have time machines and can’t see into the distant past or future or even very reliably into the near future. Nevertheless, if we fail to make plans for the future to the best of our admittedly limited capabilities, the future may slap us in the face with something we should have and could have planned for.
In the interest of planning for the future, the Board, along with Reverend Carol, has agreed to form a committee (this will not shock UUs) to help guide Westside into the future. Actually, it’s a committee that is being “reconstituted.” Those of you who have been at Westside for more than a few years may remember the previous Stewardship Committee. My understanding is that the focus of this committee was the financial security of the church. Financial security is certainly crucial. Delving into my repertoire of questionably pithy sayings, “Talk is cheap; it takes money to buy whiskey (or perhaps more appropriately for UUs – coffee).” But focusing primarily on finances tends to result in the inward thinking that is one of the hallmarks of failing churches that Thom Rainer describes in his book Autopsy of a Deceased Church, which Reverend Carol has talked about. If you haven’t already read this book, I highly recommend it.
Financial matters will certainly be a part of the new Stewardship Committee’s mission, but it’s vision will be much broader – what we’re calling the 4 M’s: Money, Ministry, Membership and Marketing. The mission of the committee will be to draw on the knowledge and skills of its members to prepare Westside for the changes that are coming. Whether the changes are those from the UUA Article II revisions, demographics, or changing attitudes about religious institutions, we need to be thinking and planning for ways not only to enable Westside to survive but to make it an even better place for ourselves and our community.