Happy New Year, everyone!
In an end-of-the-year meditation over the holidays, the teacher suggested that we students take what we were grateful for and what we had learned and what had made us stronger in 2020 and bring all of that into 2021, leaving the rest behind.
I think that’s pretty good advice for our congregations, too.
You’ve learned a lot about your congregation this past year. You’ve learned a lot about your ability to change, you’ve learned a lot about what matters most to you and your people and you’ve seen what you’re willing to fight for and what would be better to leave behind. January can be a fallow time in the Northeast, dark and cold – I wonder if we might take this month to imagine the things we can bring into 2021 from our church experiences last year.
Right now we’re adjusting and reacting to the pandemic and politics, but after this time there will be other things to adjust and react to, both welcome and less so. How will your congregation be best positioned to bring the love and grace of Unitarian Universalism to your community in a future where change is always happening and your people’s needs are always shifting?
There are three qualities that make for effective congregations no matter what is happening in the world.
The first is a focus on your purpose. Why do you exist? Does your organization have a sense of why it matters? Does that knowing affect what you do?
The second is nimbleness. Are you positioned to be appropriately responsive to new needs? Can you think of change as a healthy adventure, rather than a threat?
The third I call radical inclusivity. Are you hearing from all the voices in your community? Is there space for new ideas or excellent yet hidden perspectives to emerge? Are you working to deconstruct the ways your congregation prioritizes dominant voices and allow a rainbow of viewpoints to inform you?
January may be a good time for some “deep chair conversations” with your congregation – you know, the conversations where you sit all the way back in comfy seats and let your imagination and understandings unfold. It’s January, so why not bring a warm drink and a blanket? In a world that needs your organization to be purposeful, nimble and inclusive, what does 2021 hold for you? What did you learn last year? And don’t forget to muse about what you’re grateful for, too.
We on Central East Staff are grateful for the hard work and dedication this past year that has made a difference in our faith and our world. Thank you. We so look forward to dreaming big with you in 2021.
Rev. Megan Foley
CER Regional Lead