As I considered a project for a college course I was taking, I was mindful of an experience I had in my Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregation two years earlier. It is a mid to large size congregation and one where I felt very much at home in the choir as my smaller more intimate group. In 1993 some family dynamics created an atmosphere that affected my ability to attend church. I was so stressed that I needed Sunday mornings to enjoy the little quiet time I had in my own home. I was on emotional overload and had the distinct notion that, if I went to church and someone asked me how I was, I would burst into tears. I did not feel safe with that possibility.
What I didn’t anticipate was that no one from the church, where I had been a member for ten years, would call to find out how I was and why I was not coming to church. The only ones I talked to were the three close women friends with whom I talked at least once a week.
The minister didn’t call, the Caring Committee didn’t call. It seemed that no one missed me or cared that I was not there. I asked the minister about this at one point and was told that if I was having a crisis I needed to contact the church. I responded that, when someone is in a crisis situation, it is not always easy to make that call. I truly believed that, in a church community, there should be some system of caring for the “flock” whether the individual members were there consistently or whether some had dropped off the radar screen. I almost left the church at this time but the draw of the choir won out and the family situation eased. Because I loved this spiritual community, I decided to stick with it and, when the opportunity arose to do a project for a class, I came up with the idea for the Remembership Committee.
Developed by Carol Hosmer, 1995
Members of this committee will be recruited from the congregation. The idea is to call every member of the congregation 3-4 times during the year. The calls will have NOTHING to do with a request for money or services.
- Make a one year commitment
- Call assigned list of names 3-4 times during the church year
- Be comfortable or at least not intimidated about making phone calls to members
- Report back to committee, church staff, etc. so that appropriate follow through will take place
- Meet prior to each round of calls to develop script and discuss any problems or make suggestions for fine tuning
- List of names from the church directory ( I recruited a person for each page in the directory)
- Script for each of the calls
Items to be covered in each call:
- Checking in to see how the person is doing
- If they have been in church, acknowledge and thank them for their participation
- If they have not been in church, acknowledge that and let them know they are missed
- Ask if they have anything they want to communicate with one of the church staff, be it minister, treasurer, board chair, music director, etc.
- Let them know they are a valuable part of a caring community
- Acknowledge their volunteer efforts
Possible other reasons to call:
- Reminder about annual meeting (the time we did this, our attendance at the meeting increased 50%)
- Holiday call – acknowledging that the holidays can be emotional roller coasters for folks
- Special celebration or event happening in the congregation
- Folks were very surprised and pleased to receive this kind of call
- Members could feel that their presence and participation was truly appreciated and some were inspired to more fully engage in the life of the congregation
- Build a true caring community in which members feel good about themselves and their participation no matter at what level.
- Assure members that even if they have to be away from the community for a period of time that they are still cared about.
- Help maintain and grow the membership rather than having new members coming in and others leaving by the back door because they don’t feel connected.