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Newcomer Class

November 1, 2004

This is a model for a two hour Newcomer Class session from the Michael Servetus Unitarian Universalist (UU) Fellowship, Vancouver, WA (200 plus members). It is either offered in connection with a brunch after church on Sunday or as an evening dessert event in a private home. It includes abbreviated personal faith journeys. The Membership Committee encourages potential members to attend two sessions—this one and another two hour session led by the minister on UU History and Theology.

Potential members are invited by letter, with return postcards that offer three checkboxes: ___ Yes I'll attend; ___ Can't attend this time, ask me again; ___ Not interested—remove me from the list. Copies of the invitation are also at the Hospitality Corner after each service.

Dear Friend,

We are writing to invite you to attend the Newcomer Brunch we're hosting Sunday, August 29, at 11:15 a.m. (right after the 10:00 a.m. service) in the Michael Servetus Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (MSUUF) library. We expect it will last two hours. This is the first session of what we call "The New UU," for anyone interested in finding out more about our liberal religious movement. (Session # 2, a capsule version of UU theology and history with our minister, Rev. Mark Bell, will be held in September.)

The brunch is a great opportunity to meet other newcomers and members of the congregation in an informal setting. We will fill you in on our congregational history, current programs and opportunities for involvement, and answer your questions about MSUUF. This is a good time for us to find out what you are looking for in a spiritual community and for you to find out if this is the one for you.

We look forward to seeing you and getting to know you better. So we know how much food to prepare please RSVP right away by calling or emailing the church. Child care is available.

Sincerely,

The Membership Committee
New UU Dessert

Or, Brunch Agenda 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. or two hours following church on Sunday morning (twenty minutes) People arrive, get kids settled, get nametags, refreshments, small talk. One-to-one interviews and introductions to the group.

Getting Acquainted

Personal Journeys Leaders model process for the group by briefly answering the six questions below, which are on a handout with room for writing in the answers.

  • Basic information—who are you, how long have you lived here (where from if a relatively recent arrival), family, occupation
  • Your religious/spiritual upbringing (if any)
  • Any spiritual crises along the way you'd like to share?
  • What brought you to MSUUF?
  • What are you looking for in a spiritual community?
  • Anything else you'd like us to know about you?

Pass questions out and pairs do the process by interviewing each other (five minutes each side). Pair people who don't know each other, trying to intuit who might like each other. The interviewer takes notes. Each introduces partner to the group, going over the highlights of the interview (three minutes each maximum, we hope).

History and Structure of MSUUF

Small local group in 1953. We were lay led. We bought building and site in early 60's. We called Bruce (minister) in 1983 and expanded. Completed new building in 1992 and we were full within two or three years. Bruce left in '93 and we called Mark (minister). Unsure about growth, we did a visioning process last winter and made a landmark decision to grow. Lengthy planning process. Went to two services in January. UU congregations run themselves democratically. Board of Trustees and Program Council. Members determine minister, budget, program.

The Larger Movement Unitarian Universalist Association

Our national association, made up of two denominations that merged in 1961. Certifies ministers, puts on conferences, trainings, publishes literature, lets the right hand know what the left is doing. 200,000 UUs in U.S., growing again, unlike most mainline Protestant churches. District associations—Northwest District—one of the regional arms of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), produces conferences, supplies consultants when needed, lets the right hand know etc. Opportunities to meet other UUs at district events and General Assembly.

Becoming a Member

Becoming part of this community requires participation beyond Sunday morning. (Pass out Connecting brochure, Adult Programs catalog, newsletter)

  • Enrichment programs, Shared Ministry—We want to bring out the best in you as you share your gifts of service with the community volunteering to keep this place going, either in support or leadership roles.
  • Working within the community—You'll see us everywhere. Environmental, social justice, free speech, women's issues, urban sprawl and downtown redevelopment, local politics.
  • Pledging—We plan our programs on how much our members and friends pledge at the annual fund drive (canvass) each May for the coming year July 1-June 30. Because we only ask for pledges once a year and people do move away, we hope new members and friends who begin participating regularly will make an interim pledge of five or six months. We prefer payments on pledges rather than money placed in the collection plate because pledge payments can be budgeted.
  • Annual budget $190,000—Minister, one parttime office person, 1 part-time Director of Religious Education (DRE), sexton, mortgage, utilities, program costs. The total sum is funded by 175 pledging families and individuals—which averages about $920 a family. Many give significantly less than that and some give significantly more. You need not be a member to pledge. (Pass out canvass packet).
  • Becoming a member—When you no longer feel like a guest, and you feel like you're at home here, ready to be an owner. (pass out membership brochure)
  • Privileges—Voting, chairing committees, serving on Board, World magazine
  • Responsibilities—Attending, helping, pledging

Your Questions And More Refreshments

End.

Refreshments

  • Dessert—Decaf coffee, hot water & teas, milk, sugar, cookies, bundt cake, finger fruits, two carafes, spoons, dessert plates and napkins.
  • Brunch—coffee/tea, orange juice, deviled eggs, bagels, cream cheese, jams, fruit platter, coffee cake.
  • Hospitality—Nametags, markers, sheets with questions, magazines, pencils.
  • Information—"Connecting" brochure, "Becoming a Member" brochure, "About MSUUF" brochure, Canvass packet, UUA materials, UUA Bookstore catalog, Beacon Press catalog, World Magazine.

For more information contact interconnections @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Sunday, December 22, 2013.

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