By Rev. Christian Schmidt
We are now about halfway through the process to update our mission and vision. As you may recall, interim ministry is a period when we assess our current mission and vision and re-envision it to reflect who we will become. To know that, we must first ask ourselves “who have we been?”, “who are we now?”, and “who do we want to be?” We initiated our mission and vision process with a start-up session in late August and addressed “Who have we been?” in early November. Ultimately, we will update and affirm a new mission and vision. The congregation’s mission and vision, written in 2007, reads as follows:
With Open Hearts, Open Arms, and Open Minds, we seek to make meaning, make connections, and make a difference.
Members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Brazos Valley know and value ourselves and are valued throughout the Brazos Valley for:
Our love, warmth, and compassion, celebrating life’s joys and offering comfort for its sorrows;
Our radically inclusive hospitality, offering hope and affirmation for all people; and
Our inquiring faith explored and our respect for many paths and sources of religious inspiration.
In this spirit we, as a community of faith, seek to:
· Make Meaning as an ever-deepening spiritual community engaging with all we find sacred;
· Make Connections within our congregation, across generations, and out to the wider community, across differences of all kinds; and
· Make a Difference in empowering every person, young and old, to serve others in daily acts great and small, to sustain the world and make it whole.
In the second step of the process in December, we talked about the present state of the congregation and our surrounding community, what is most valuable and exciting about that, and what we bring to it. In the first step in November, we focused on the past, talking about the legacy of the congregation and what we bring with us from the past 64 years.
The responses, both in person at the session on Dec. 6, and from those who filled out the online form with the same questions, showed strong consistency with the first step. That’s good! It’s a good sign to get relatively consistent responses during this process, because that usually means there is a strong identity in the congregation about who it is and what is most important.
The responses focused on several areas: service to the congregation (the sacred space team work, parking cars for Aggie games, serving in RE, providing music); reaching out to the larger community (hosting talks and musical events, African-American museum, CROP Hunger Walk, outreach to the LGBTQ community, and even being a presence for people who may visit us only once or twice); and what the congregation is for our members (an oasis, a place to belong, a supportive community, covenant groups).
Our third session (of four!) will be on Jan. 24 at noon, just after our coffee hour. This session, predictably, will address the future of our congregation and what big dreams we might have. Like the first two, it will have a component with questions to answer, but unlike them, it will also feature a special project for which you are invited to bring art supplies (paper, drawing materials, collage, water paints, etc., or a drawing program on your computer or tablet). You are also invited to bring your wildest dreams and biggest expectations for the congregation to share.
Your participation is critical in this work, so please come and tell your friends, too! Thank you!
Rev. Christian, John Ivy, Molly Ward, Joyce Langenegger