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March 4, 2018 Town Hall Meeting Summary

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By Holly Haymaker

    Reaction to thought of Steve leaving: First a sorrow, but he has done a great job and it’s time to show we can make it on our own. It is scary but we can do it. Excited by opportunity for growth. Grief and now relief that we have a process to follow. eventually we will find a good fit. Church’s strength is a tribute to Steve’s ministry. Gratitude that he shared 36 years with the church.

    On the future of the congregation: Hosea Ballou: “If we agree in love, there is no disagreement that can do us any injury, but if we do not, no other agreement can do us any good. Let us endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.”

    What we want: To be a driving force in the community. Look for at the BR community to see gaps we might help fill. Concern that we will not focus on social justice. Concern that we will get the wrong kind of minister who will not fit. What we need: change is good and necessary if we want to grow, we are complacent, demand will call forth new leaders, time of reflection is good, clarify what we expect from our minister and our church.

    Good leadership at the church will help. Experience of past transitions eases nervousness. Opportunity to change the way we structure ourselves.

    Three words for strong congregation – involvement, ownership, respect for each other, sense of community, family, healing, sense of conviction and shared vision, mature, no acting out, we are forgiving of each other and ourselves. consensus building, time to be generous and kind, respect each other. Be open to hearing many voices, keep making the circle larger. Diverse, welcoming to many, more people of color, equally accepted female leadership.

    Connection to each other. Feeling of obligation to serve outside of ourselves. All voices are heard. Strong enough as a spiritual community that the world around can feel it.
Trying to practice love in spite of our differences.
 Youth Involvement. Youth ownership.
All members feel ownership and responsibility. In the midst of disagreement due to our diversity, we can compromise in the spirit of love.

    What role will you play? How do you see yourself in the process? Be involved at whatever role is appropriate and hope that many are open. All to take on the role of leaders, listen, take pulse of congregation, ask, offer a different kind of attention.

Heal the generation gap: Different generations see the church differently. We have lost youth as they age out – want a system to keep in touch after RE. We don’t want two churches – RE and sanctuary.

    Offer programs that will bring people in – such as Jesus Seminars, environmental talks, others. workshops, seminars. More leadership training opportunities. support financially, and encourage. Join or rejoin teams and committees that already exist.

Advice for the Board:

Have a vision for the church - Take into awareness where BR is as a city. What does our choice of a minister say about us? Do we want racial reconciliation?

Communicate - Be transparent, give regular updates. Put up a schedule/timeline that's easily seen or publish it in the newsletter with a big red flag when it is about the transition or have a standing column in the newsletter about the transition.

Be clear about UU rules. Explain the process. Find many ways to gather input and communicate. Be deliberate. Don’t push or rush. Feel confident in your decision making. Explain other parts of church governance. Gather people from former selection committees and use their knowledge. Reach out to Branches, R.E., etc. Even to people who don’t always come to services. Continue to provide opportunities after services for people to ask questions. Have more town hall meetings – but it’s noisy in here… Get more young people involved; have them at meetings. Have more meetings between services. Knowing well in advance (but 2020 is too long). Don't overwhelm Nathan.

Don't lose momentum- all of us together can fill the void.

Let's make sure that the pool of candidates is large.

Specific Interesting Suggestions: Do a Beloved – Conversations - type conversation on a church wide scale for thinking about the church’s future. There were moments that were change making – use ideas from that curriculum.

    Someone mentioned that there was a discussion during Beloved Conversations that we might use in this process that was very eye opening, challenging and effective. Tell us more!

Yahir Mackie and the 821 project was mentioned as effective as model for intergenerational conversations. The youth in those conversations became empowered and led the Alton Sterling march. We want people in their 20s back – they give us a different/good view of the future. The youth want mentors.

And a member of the nomination committee said that they are looking for people with diverse backgrounds in his work on the Nominating Committee.