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January Staff Board Report, 2023

Staff Board Report

January 10 , 2023


Introduction

Hello Dear Board,

And Happy New Year.

Welcome to a bit of a different kind of staff report.

Just me this time.

All the staff are in the midst of their annual midyear reviews, and having just

returned from time off and time away, I gave them this month off from their

reports as they are all gearing up for the coming winter and spring.

And so I will take this opportunity, in this report, just as I have with all of

them in their midyear reviews, to write you all a letter, touching on the

various program areas, a bit of a state of the church letter midway through

the year.


And a fascinating year it has been.

So many of us are remerging and returning, sometimes with tentative steps

and sometimes with great strides.


We are seeing people return with various risk tolerances, masking and not,

some just to the outside services, some just to vespers.


Our people are all over the place, and we have intentionally created a

dizzying array of opportunities for them to engage.

And the numbers have been good. New people are coming, people are

finding us and many who find us are digging deeper and getting more

engaged.


We are still in a complex moment, and we have solid plans on how to

emerge from it in the coming years.

So now a little more on the specific program areas and our plans for the rest

of this year and coming years.


Ministry to Children, Youth and Families

At FCB just like in most congregations, the portion of the community

slowest to return to Sunday mornings are children and their families. This is

for a number of reasons, but for now, it is probably most helpful to share

some of our strategies to help with this over the next many years.

We have the good fortune of the musical acting as a feeder system for

families into the church, and intend to deepen and facilitate that transition.

The musical was a great success this year, welcoming more than 30 new

families to the church.


We will never turn all of the musical families into church families, but we

can help facilitate the transition for those who are seeking what we have to

offer. More on that soon in the music section.


In addition to the musical families, we are also in the process of deepening

and fine tuning our programming for middle school aged kids. Providing a

junior youth group and helping to strengthen our offerings for that age,

Coming of Age, Building Bridges and more.

Nate, Wendy and Raeann are hard at work devising a new structure and flow

to our offerings for the 6 th , 7 th and 8 th graders which will help to firm up that

age group and free up our youth group to be more focused on their work

together.


And then finally, looking longer term, with the eventual arrival of the Henry

Frost School, we will work closely with Iris and look to have cross

pollination and programming with families of the school, helping to

welcome in any folks who are seeking what we have to offer.

And as far as the youth program, now in Raeann’s second year the group

continues to be large and well attended, and is about to have our first

international service learning trip. While some families felt nervous about

sending their kids this year, many have indicated that they will gladly

participate in the future and we have ten kids headed out to Panama!

In addition to the return of the exciting and engaging service learning

opportunities, many of our youth have been working with Raeann and UU

Mass Action on Youth Corps, a youth leadership and engagement project,

which is exciting and engaging and helping to foster deepening

programming and opportunities for other communities as well as our own.

So while we are in the midst of a dip in the involvement of children and

families, we have solid strategies and plans for the next few years which I

believe will help us to emerge out of this moment with a strong, vibrant and

well attended family ministry.


Music

As many of you have heard, we will be hosting a children’s music festival in

the spring, which will be wonderful on a number of levels.

First off, it will help to keep the children and youth choirs engaged

throughout the year, helping to firm up involvement and guard against the

drop off of the post-musical, post-holiday spring. It will also make us some

money with ticket sales for the festival concert.

So this is exciting and can become a wonderful event in the years to come.

But even more exciting to me is that this new iteration of the music

committee is helping to strategize about ways to help support Ian and Simon

around the musical next year. They are looking now at ways to help organize

systems of support so that we aren’t grinding them into stumps for half the

year. We will continue the wonderful music ministry we have at First

Church, with the return of the Major Music services twice a year and our

choirs all deepening and wonderful, and we will look to bolster and support

the team as much as we can.


Fellowship

While we are in the midst of reforming and restructuring the Superteam of

Membership, Fellowship and Outreach, we have returned to this crucial

work of connecting people.

Samuel has thrown a lot on the wall this year and the stickiest of them all

has been the SoUUper Lunches, a truly delicious soup and more lunch which

rotates leadership and has a steady and fascinating and wonderful group of

folks who come to the church for delicious lunch on Wednesdays.

And looking at the model of those lunches, Samuel tried three kinds of

events this year, and one had traction and will continue.

We will continue to try out more and more events and strategies and will see

what sticks.


We will look to intergenerational events like game nights and more, a

holiday party, circle suppers, whatever people hope to create. We will

discuss the possibilities more at our meeting.


Adult Programs

Our adult programs continue to be a strength of our programmatic life.

Lillian and her team have brought us another year of wonderful

opportunities for both online and in person connection.

In addition to the work of our Adult Programs Committee, this year we have

opened up the full course catalog of the CommUUnity Collaborative to all

our folks. Like anything new this will take some time to filter through

people’s communication overwhelm, but we look forward to more and more

folks taking part in the wonderful bunch of classes we have on offer this

winter.


If you haven’t had a chance, check them out at…


Such A Good Place

All things considered, I am deeply pleased with where we are.

We have challenges, to be sure, and we have solid strategies in place to work

with them. We are poised for the next many years to continue to deepen and

grow, to serve our people, our community and our world.

I am so grateful for this moment.


For this beginning.

For all that is possible in the coming years.


As many of you know I have my installation coming up on May 7 th , please

do come, it’s in the afternoon.

More on all that in the coming months.

But I mention it here because we are all just getting going.

We are all just in the process of beginning.

On one level you could say that COVID complicated the beginning of this

chapter in the long life of the church.

And on another level it feels to me, as we pull out of the worst of it, as we

return and reengage and start to build again, it feels like these last many

years were a beautiful opportunity for the staff and leadership and so many

folks to come together, to strengthen the bonds between us, and to prepare

for this next thriving phase in the long life of the church.

And so here we are, with this firm foundation, with this ready team, with this

bright future, with so much possible.


So thank you all.


For this fall, for these last many years, for helping to make it through.

Thank you for your leadership, for your vision, for your hard work and your

caring hearts. Thank you for all we have done to make it this far, and

especially, thank you for all that comes next.


So much love,

Chris

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