The last two months have been monumental for UUCGT. On January 26th you called Rabbi Chava Bahle to be your settled Rabbi beginning Fall. Over twenty people signed the membership book, and almost every week someone new asks about becoming a member. At about 190 members you are reaching what congregational growth specialists call a “program size church.”
This brings up a few ideas:
Congregations fall into distinctive size categories: family (0-50), pastoral (50-200, program (200-400) and corporate (400 plus), and each has their own way of “being church.”
Congregations don’t grow or decline smoothly, but tend to plateau at the points in between size categories. Whether a congregation is able to break through this plateau depends not merely on technological fixes (expanding the parking lot, for example) but on whether they are able to create enough “sociological space” for newcomers.
Going from pastoral to program is often the hardest step! But fear not! You have a lot of resources that will help you bridge this gap.
Attitude of inquiry and Beginner’s Mind. You are a truly joyful congregation that seeks authenticity over perfection. This invites trust.
Love of small groups. You have committees. You have Wednesday night potluck. You have adult religious education. You have committees (did I mention that already?). The accessibility of small groups will make or break your transition to a program size congregation. Small groups function to serve the practical needs of the congregation, but they also invite people to authentic relationship.
Attention to leadership. In program size congregations, the main role of the minister shifts from being everyone’s personal minister to developing programs. She still does pastoral care, but her main focus is on building up and supporting a strong team of leaders who then serve as a minister to their respective committee or team. Your Board has given a lot of time and attention to developing policy and clarifying processes and procedures. Beyond your Board, several committees have anticipated a transition and brought in a co-chair or mentored a committee member to make the leadership transition smooth.
Belief in your mission. This is your biggest resource. You are a liberal religious community in Northern Michigan. You have a strong ministry of justice-making and witnessing. You have a vision of what beloved community looks like and you aspire towards that vision every time you gather.
I look forward to our next six months together, to watching how you grow.
Blessings to you,
Mindful of our vibrant Congregational history and steadfastly committed to a strong future, we strive to promote good in the world and aid each other in ethical and spiritual development.
To this end, I willfully covenant to:
Welcome with open minds and hearts all who gather here;
Inspire and respect others, from youngest to oldest, on our various spiritual paths;
Assume good intentions, communicate directly, share ideas freely, listen willingly, disagree respectfully, and forgive easily;
Support the ministry of our Congregation through gifts of time, talent and money.
Encourage all voices to speak and be heard, as we participate in a collaborative and democratic process.
We provide a safe, caring community where all can freely explore diverse religious thought.
Our Sunday Service is at 10:30am.
Our services are varied. Some are led by our Interim Minister, the Rev. Cassie Howe; others are presented by visiting ministers, local speakers, and lay members of our congregation. Music is an integral part of each service. We invite you to attend several services to experience this variety and to get a fuller understanding of what we are all about. For weekly service information see our Sunday Service page.
Religious Education and Childcare are offered at 10:30.
We have a lively RE program for children. Our professional Director of Religious Education works with an RE committee to develop programs, which are led by volunteers from our congregation. We strive to partner with parents in raising children who are curious, courageous, and compassionate. The program includes Sunday activities, worship experiences, social gatherings, community service work, and multigenerational events. Child care for the youngest members of our community is also available.
UUCGT is a member of the UUA (The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations). As such, we covenant to affirm and promote:
• The inherent worth and dignity of every person
• Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
• Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth
in our congregations
• A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
• The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within
our congregations and in society at large
• The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all
• Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
6726 Center Road
Traverse City, MI 49686-1802