President's Column

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

It has become a tradition each June for the incoming and outgoing Presidents of our Board of Trustees to interview each other about their experience in the previous year and hopes and plans for the next church year. Here is a back-and-forth between Katie Womack and Jerry Wagnon.

Jerry: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the congregation in the coming year?

Katie: I think we will be energized by the excitement of finally starting on our new church building. There will be many discussions about who we are as a church and what we want our sacred space to be. We will be challenged to listen deeply to each other, to be patient with the process and each other, to figure out when to compromise and what should not be compromised, and to keep centered on our mission. I think one of our biggest challenges facing the congregation in the coming year is to maintain and grow our church congregational life while taking on this huge new project.

K: What are you most looking forward to, as you look toward your year as President?

J: What I also expect to be our greatest challenge, the design and ground-breaking on our new home on 29th Street in Bryan, is also what excites me most. While a building and grounds do not in and of themselves define who we are, they facilitate our work and serve as a statement of who we are to ourselves and to the larger community. The August President’s Column will go deeper into the myriad elements involved in this process.

J: What was the biggest surprise you had during your term – what happened that you did not expect?

K: I was completely surprised by Rev. Aaron’s resignation – did not see that coming at all. I was expecting a smooth year with a third-year developmental minister at the helm. Instead, I learned the first week of my term last June that we would need to be searching for new ministerial leadership to be in place by September.

K: Is there anything in particular you are doing or have done to get prepared for your presidency?

J: I have found an abbreviated version of Robert’s Rules of Order, to start, and have tried to organize my cloud storage to have easy access to vital church documents. That said, I have come to realize that paper back-ups are also important and that Internet-based solutions need a lot of planning and preparation ahead of time.

J: How do you draw upon denominational resources in making decisions that affect UUCBV?

K: Referring back to the earlier question and the big surprise of Rev. Aaron’s departure, there is an excellent example of relying on denominational resources. We were able to contract with Rev. Donna and, throughout that process, our regional and UUA ministerial transitions consultants were extremely helpful and supportive. It is certainly reassuring to know that our Association is there for us. I’ll also mention that I have consulted with the UUA website more often this past year for answers to a variety of questions and to keep abreast of matters that might in some way affect UUCBV.

K: What new ideas, big or small, will you bring to the work of the board this coming year?

J: Any “big” ideas stem from my ongoing concerns at UUCBV and at previous UU congregations, and I believe these are vital keys to congregational growth.

I hope to support the social and environmental justice efforts of UUCBV, to prod us to be an even more justice-driven church. For example, the Ministry for Social Justice and the Earth is working with activists from the now dormant Pride Community Center to create a community LGBTQ+ Pride Potluck event here at Hillel Center with a special speaker in July. Sponsoring such events puts us in a leadership role while we further our UU values.

Adult programs are a second passion I have. Many of us need more from a church community than one weekly Sunday morning service and some do not relate to a traditional service at all. In addition to supporting TacoTED Talks and Covenant Groups, I would like to see a regular class, perhaps bi-weekly, to cover more secular topics consistent with UU values that would attract not only UUCBV members, but also some of the religiously un-affiliated from our area. A task force or temporary team might implement this concept.

J: How do you juggle the demands of your day and church leadership?

K: Good question. I’m a compulsive list-maker, and juggling for me involves a weekly and daily pair of lists – one for the workday and one for “the balance”. To be honest, I slip in a little church work during my lunch break quite often to try to stay on top of things, knock out some easy tasks, and take on the more time-consuming matters on weekends. Most importantly, the juggling act would not be possible without counting all those who make it work every week– the truly wonderful and hard-working board, the church staff and Rev. Donna, committee members and volunteers. Thank you all for the ever-present support that keeps us going!

K: What do you enjoy most about the UUCBV community?

J: I enjoy most being a part of a community that reflects, reinforces and reaches out to promote my deepest held values, even when these may not reflect those of the larger community. The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism mirror my outlook on the world. When I participate in services, covenant group meetings, board and other meetings, these are reinforced. And when, as a group, we take action on social and environmental issues, I have a chance, working with others, to manifest those values.

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Meet Our Minister

The Rev. Christian Schmidt is our interim minister, and first became a Unitarian Universalist in this congregation where he was an active member from 2006-2009. He has since served congregations in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California. His interests include his family (including four little boys he and his wife are raising), sports, and theology.