I’m Adam Fass, president of your Board of Trustees. I’m going to write updates every so often to let you know what the board is up to. In this first message, I’m going to explain what a board of trustees is and what projects we plan to work on in the coming year.
The Board and the Mission
The board’s job can be summed up in a single sentence: We make sure that our congregation achieves its mission.
Our mission statement is:
We connect and engage in joyful, inclusive, and intentional spiritual community to support one another as we help heal and transform the world.
When applying the mission statement to specific problems, we like to focus on three words:
- Connect: We connect by getting to know one another and sharing our stories.
- Engage: We engage our fellow members by inviting one another to participate and to serve.
- Transform: We become better people and we improve the world outside of our walls.
All of our work is a means to this end. Whether you are coordinating worship, teaching a class, washing dishes, painting walls, analyzing the cash flow statement or rebooting the router, your work helps us to connect, engage and transform.
The board is ultimately responsible for ensuring that we achieve our mission, but we can’t run the entire congregation, and so we delegate. The board establishes roles and boundaries that allow everyone to work efficiently and harmoniously. We harness creative energy and encourage innovation while ensuring that our members and our property are protected. We oversee and evaluate, without obstructing or interfering.
How in the world does a board do all that? It’s a hard problem, and we don’t have all the answers. Fortunately, there are some great books on the subject. Check out my reading list (primarily Governance and Ministry by Hotchkiss). Ask me about congregational governance at the coffee hour. You’ll make my day. Seriously.
The Board’s Priorities
Now I’d like to talk about our concrete priorities for this year. These are the board’s priorities, not the priorities for the entire congregation. If you are working on something that is not on this list, that just means that we trust you and we don’t plan to butt in. So here are the things that the board plans to pay the most attention to in the coming year.
Priority 1: Growth plan
Our congregation must grow to achieve its mission. Our current size sits in a plateau zone that is well-known to be awkward (see my reading list, especially the books by Mann and Latham). As a larger organization, we could have a more vibrant community and transform more lives. The Empowered Together statement tells us that many of you agree. If you aren’t familiar with Empowered Together or if you just aren’t sure what it means to grow, don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty of discussion. It is our job to explain to you exactly how growing the congregation will serve the mission, and it is your job to tell us what this congregation means to you and what must be preserved as we change.
Priority 2: Policy document organization
The board delegates power and responsibility so that our staff and volunteers can act freely within a framework of policies that protect our members and our property. This only works if everyone knows what the policies are, or at least where to find them. At present, our policies are spread over many documents in a variety of formats and locations. We are kicking off a major effort this year to collect them all in one place and make them easy to read and search.
Priority 3: Leadership development
Serving the congregation in a leadership role is a powerful way for a volunteer to transform themselves and others. We are fortunate to have a lot of talent and energy in our congregation, and we’d like to do a better job of matching individuals to leadership roles and enabling them to thrive in those roles.
Priority 4: Annual vision of ministry
To achieve our mission we must be intentional about setting priorities that drive our actions. We’re doing that in an ad-hoc way this year. By next year, we’ll establish a yearly sequence of events to ensure that we are always mission-driven. The board, staff and volunteers will agree on a set of priorities, called a “vision of ministry,” at the beginning of the yearly cycle. Those priorities will drive the budget and programs. At the end of the cycle we will evaluate ourselves and ask how we can improve.
I’d like to thank all of you for the time and energy that you put into this congregation. Because of your efforts, we are building on a strong foundation.
If you ever want to peek behind the scenes and see what the board is up to, take a look at www.wuuc.org/board (you must log in with your wuuc.org account). We welcome your input, please feel free to chat with us in person or to email the board list any time (firstname.lastname@example.org). We look forward to hearing from you!