Challenges and Opportunities

Dear WUUC Community,

This is quite a time for our community. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, the world looks and feels much different than it did before. The old ways of “doing church” are changing to respond to our changing needs, and we don’t have all the answers yet on what the “new normal” will look like. This 2022-23 church year will be filled with experimentation, trial and error.

There will certainly be challenges.

After two years of virtual-only programming for children and youth (and the departure of our Director of Religious Education this past summer), we are needing to rebuilding our Religious Education program. The job search is underway for a new Director of Religious Education; but when we find that person, they won’t be able to rebuild the program on their own. We will need a team of faithful volunteers (including parents and non-parents) to bring our RE program to life.

Another challenge: before the pandemic, we knew how to do in-person worship. During the pandemic, we learned how to do virtual worship. Now, we are learning how to do hybrid worship, where both in-person and virtual attendance are possible. This is far more difficult than either in-person or virtual is alone. Not only are we adapting to new technology, but hybrid worship services require more volunteer roles to make them happen. We will need more people to greet and welcome, make coffee and provide snacks, run the camera and sound board, and help set up and clean up the church before and after services.

These are just the first two challenge areas that come to mind.

And, there will also be opportunities.

The fact that so many of our programs went into hibernation during the pandemic means we can be intentional about which ones to bring back, and when we choose to do so. This kind of intentional reflection and discernment can help us become a more focused church community, where we can go deeper because we are not spread so thin.

It also allows us to re-imagine the ways we have done things in the past. Do we really need so many committees with years-long terms of commitment? Or is there a way to operate with shorter-term projects and goals that allow people to show up and pitch in without being on a committee for years?

Another opportunity: can we address the shortages in our congregational resources (volunteers, money, etc.) by partnering with other UU congregations in the area to do some collaborative activities and programming? What new things might come to fruition when we let go of old things that are no longer serving us?

It will be a year of challenges and opportunities. We will try new things; some we will keep, and others we will not. The way we “do church” will certainly continue to change. But the reason for church remains: to be a place of acceptance, affirmation, and belonging; a place of healing, growth, and transformation; a place to love and support each other as we journey together, and know that we are not alone.

Peace and Blessings,