What a year we have before us! The UUA staff is laying out plans for additional outreach in our “Congregations and Beyond” initiatives, collaboration with other faith groups, modernizing communications, new forms of professional development for religious professionals, and a move to a new headquarters. And those are just what we lovingly call “the big rocks.”
Every year the UUA’s Leadership Council (the senior leadership comprised of the heads of our staff groups) gets together for a planning retreat. We take time to assess where we are and the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.
The biggest of the “rocks” is the Congregations and Beyond effort. You will be hearing much more about this in the coming months and years. We will be putting together an advisory group of some innovative thinkers. We are going to study UUs and people who share our values, and we are beginning to explore the use of new social media and the principles of online interactive gaming. This is not the passive and isolated activity many of us associate with video games. This is about incentivizing social interaction, collaboration and building community. We are entering a time of exploration—and it is very exciting.
The potential move to a new headquarters will occupy a lot of energy. Our consultant has been exploring a number of options. We are ready to do more analysis on the most promising. We have learned that a move is even more complicated than we thought. Life is like that.
A related “rock” is the issue of improving communications we have with our constituencies. With the explosion of electronic communications it is a great challenge to coordinate our work. We need more consistency, coordination and new vehicles to make communications interactive. A task force last year made a number of recommendations. We have implemented some and are working on others.
Terrific work continues with the implementation of the major recommendations from the “Strategic Plan for Professional Ministries” effort. I am personally convinced that the health of our movement in the future will depend on our ability to recruit, train, nurture and empower creative and entrepreneurial religious leaders. Way too much is happening in collaboration with the UU Ministers Association and others to outline here—and it is great stuff. One project that is close to completion is a tool that identifies the major skills and personal characteristics of excellent ministry and the levels of development in each area from novice to expert. This has the potential to shape self assessment, work with committees on ministry in congregations, continuing education and even seminary education. Stay tuned!
And there is more. Among the initiatives that bear mentioning here are efforts to build on the success of our last GA with focus and programming for the next two years and work to make sure the new College of Social Justice (a joint venture with the UUSC) gets off to a great start.
Whew! And there is more.
We have a great staff. They are committed, creative and diligent.