UU District of Metro NY Board Member
CERG Transitions Team Member
Several years ago I was a member of a congregational Growth Team working with Mark Bernstein, now a CERG regional consultant, and other congregations in our MetroNY district with the goal of enhancing the growth and vitality of our individual congregations. Our team labeled the foci of our efforts toward growth: ‘Within, Among and Beyond.’
The ‘Within’ focused on the individual congregant and their spiritual, ethical and intellectual growth. The ‘Among’ focused on the congregation at large, the growth of its operations, governance, and programs, and the strengthening of collaboration and relationships among our individual congregants. The ‘Beyond’ focused on our outreach and ministries beyond our walls, our work in the world.
As we move forward with our regionalization efforts, one could view our efforts using those same labels for our individual congregations, all of our regional and UUA congregations, and our collective work in the world.
The ‘Within’ focuses on each UU congregation in all its dimensions. The ‘Among’ harnesses the synergy and power of collaboration and collective action of clusters, regions, and a nation of congregations. The ‘Beyond’ is all we can accomplish together in our work in the world – we are stronger together!
The key word here is ‘together.’ We start by intentionally reaching out, congregation-to-congregation, sharing, collaborating, and working together. These clusters of congregations, connected to one another, can be geographically based and/or affinity based. This is so important to our future that a primary goal of our regional staff is to be the ‘midwives of congregational connections.’
We all would like our own, our regional and our UUA congregations to grow, bringing others of like-minds and like-hearts into our faith, and thereby making a more positive impact in our communities and our world.
After the completion of the work of our congregation’s Growth Team, we communicated our findings and recommendations in a lengthy presentation to our board of trustees. Later, many board members admitted that they were initially thinking and focused only on our numerical growth – more members. A predominant theme running through our presentation was that it was by strengthening, broadening and enhancing our programs, our ministries, our relationships, our collaborations, and our collective work in the world, could we best create the conditions to grow in membership.
That same opportunity and challenge is now before our CERG region and our UUA.