Category: Ministerial transition

Ministerial Transition Team: Rethinking Our Identity Workshops — Now In-Person at UCV

The Identity phase of our Ministerial Transition is the time to envision the congregation we want to be(come) in our future. It is arguably the most important step to complete before we search for a new settled minister.

The Rethinking Our Identity workshop is based on Appreciative Inquiry principles, an approach to organization transition that focuses on moments of exceptional pride and performance and creates a future that nurtures and supports even more pride and performance. In the workshop we will share our responses to eight ‘thought-provoking questions’ (see below) that probe our best and most memorable experiences of our lives in this congregation.

Over 60 congregants have already completed this 2 1/2 hour workshop and all have found it worthwhile and enjoyable. Many appreciated the chance to see and talk to others in this congregation, something we have been missing during the pandemic. Here are some participants’ comments:

“Very enjoyable and useful.”

“I was very engaged.”

 “The questions are all about meaningful things.”

 “The process itself was an example of meaningful connections when working in small groups at UCV.”

“Every member should take part in these workshops – interesting and very useful.”

“[The interview questions] are thought-provoking…I found the process good –

helpful, informative, stimulating.”

“This workshop was wonderful opportunity to share stories of what gives meaning to my life at UCV – 

and to learn about others’ experiences too.”

“Great!”

 

We have scheduled workshops on Sept. 1, Sept. 9, Sept. 11 and Sept. 15, with more to follow.

Contact us to register:

identityproject@vancouverunitarians.ca

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Here is an abbreviated version of the workshop’s thought-provoking questions:

 

  1. Reflecting on your entire experience at UCV, remember a time when you felt most engaged, alive, and motivated. Who was involved? What did you do? How did it feel? What happened?

 

  1. What are the healthiest, most life-giving aspects of the relationships among people at UCV? What would you say has been most valuable about your friendships in this community? Give some examples of how we live together at our best.

 

  1. What are the most valuable aspects of our congregation’s worship? What makes your worship alive and meaningful? What shapes your Unitarian faith?

 

  1. What do you believe are the most important and meaningful elements of our congregation’s engagement with the local community, the nation, and the world?

 

  1. What are the most important things our Unitarian community has contributed to your life? Who or what made a difference?

 

  1. What are the most valuable ways you contribute to our congregation – your personality, your perspectives, your skills, your activities, your character? Give me some examples.

 

  1. What do you think is the most important, life-giving characteristic of our UCV congregation? What makes Unitarians or UCV unique?

 

  1. Make three wishes for the future of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation. Describe what this religious community would look like as these wishes come true.

 

  1. Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

Join an ROI Workshop and help create our future.

identityproject@vancouverunitarians.ca

 

 

 

Embracing Possibility – In the Interim

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.

Not all things are blessed,

but the seeds of all things are blessed.

The blessing is in the seed.”

Muriel Rukeyser, 1913 – 1980

 

Embracing Possibility – this is our Soul Matters theme for the month of September, which is perfectly fitting as we anticipate returning to the beautiful UCV Sanctuary with upgraded sound and lighting equipment along with refinished floors and brand new chairs, offering countless possibilities for gathering in new ways. 

Embracing possibility is also the way we enter this second year of transitional ministry together.

This transition period of three years in-between settled ministers is a special opportunity for UCV to rediscover itself and plan for the next chapter of its future.  This is a pivotal and exciting period of exploration, reflection, and preparation for the church to look at its entire system through the lens of the five developmental/ transitional tasks, which are:

  1. History – Reviewing how the Congregation has been shaped and formed; encouraging and hearing all of the stories about the Congregation’s past, as the foundation upon with the present rests; and embracing the rich variety that makes up the Congregation.
  2. Mission & Identity – recognizing its unique identity and its strengths, needs, and challenges; Defining and redefining sense of purpose and direction; clarifying the faith community’s identity and core values; working to develop, update, and revitalize mission and vision statements; and reviewing strategic and tactical plans including stewardship and the financial health of the congregation
  3. Leadership – clarifying the appropriate leadership roles of minister(s), church staff, and lay leaders and navigating the shifts in leadership that may accompany times of transition; Reviewing the membership needs and its ways of organizing and developing new and effective leadership; providing opportunity for individuals and the Congregational organization to examine the types of leadership needed for new leaders to emerge, and for seasoned leaders to recommit or to refocus their gifts.
  4. Connections – making appropriate use of CUC, UUA, and other outside resources; Discovering and revitalizing all the association, interfaith, and community relationships a congregation builds outside of itself; and re-assessing old links and considering new ones.
  5. Future – Developing congregational and pastoral profiles that position the congregation for its next ministry, including a healthy and honest assessment of the other focus points so that the congregation can turn its energy toward proactive decision-making for the future.

Embracing possibilities means being open to new ways of thinking and doing things, to letting go of old ways and patterns. This is especially important as we engage in conversations about the proposed 8th Principle to move forward with our commitment to dismantling racism and colonialist culture in our UU institutions and as we go deeper into the hard work of anti-racism within ourselves as individuals. Culture change is hard and sometimes painful work. We are blessed to be in community with one another in these complex times.  Let us be aware of how our words and actions may impact others and remember that we are all one family, one body, so please be gentle and kind with one another. 

UCV has adopted a new organizational design that streamlines the work of the congregation. Embracing and creating possibilities for new leadership to emerge bringing fresh ideas and energy while celebrating and sustaining the foundations  built by many generations of dedicated members. This is an exciting time to be here at UCV. 

Change is inevitable, and it is so often met with resistance, which can manifest in different ways. Resistance is usually about fear of the unknown, of letting go of what is familiar and taking a risk. Something must be lost so that something new can happen. The pain of loss is real and part of our ongoing human experience. The joy of new beginnings is also real, so let us celebrate the start of this program year together as a community by embracing possibilities to shape UCV’s future for coming generations. 

From the CUC (Canadian Unitarian Council) website:

Seven principles guide our choices. Six sources nourish our spirits.

Five aspirations help us grow.

As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we aspire to be:

Deeply Connected: We strive to foster healthy relationships amongst and within UU communities, with the broader world and with all life.

Radically Inclusive: We strive to create hospitable, diverse, multi-generational communities.

Actively Engaged: We strive to work joyfully for a just and compassionate society, experimenting with new forms of community.

Theologically Alive: We seek to be ever-evolving in our understanding, open to new knowledge.

Spiritually Grounded: We seek transformation through personal spiritual experiences and shared ritual

 

Friends, may we grow together towards these Five Aspirations, embracing the possibilities to nourish our spirits and heal our world. 

 

Blessings, 

 

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim MInister

 

What do you want UCV to be in the future?

The Ministerial Transition Team is charting our course into the future and laying the groundwork for our upcoming search for a new settled minister. We’d love to have every members’ input. What is your vision for the future UCV?

In answering our thought-provoking questions and sharing your insights with other members, you have the opportunity to reflect on what you appreciate about this congregation and share stories with other members. Together we can imagine what the future UCV may be and what you want to see in this future.

Join us in one of our 2.5 hour Rethinking Our Identity (ROI) workshops – either in person at UCV or on Zoom. Consider organizing your own group (with our support) if you are on a committee or team or in a group at UCV.

 

Contact us if you have questions or to find out more and get involved:

identityproject@vancouverunitarians

Rob Dainow (rdainow@gmail.com; 604-523-0123)

Vivian Davidson (vdavidsonc@gmail.com; 778-318-3713)

Marg Fletcher (mfletcher508@gmail.com; 778-772-1120)

Leslie Hill (lesliehill49@gmail.com; 604-321-7175)

 

 

ROI Workshop – IN-PERSON, ON CAMPUS – ***!!! HURRAY !!!***

A first in the unwinding of Covid restrictions – eight Vancouver Unitarians gathered IN PERSON at UCV to participate in the Rethinking Our Identity (ROI) workshop. 

We worked together in pairs, sharing our best memories and hopes for this beloved community.

 

 

 

How did it go? 

Participants rated the workshop as VERY USEFUL – – more than 9 out of 10 on a scale from “not effective or useful” to “very effective and useful”

One participant noted that

The process itself was an example of meaningful connections when working in small groups at UCV.

 

Another noted that

Every member should take part in these workshops – interesting and very useful.

 

BEAT THE COVID BLUES — JOIN UCV FRIENDS ON CAMPUS FOR A WORKSHOP.

Contact identityproject@vancouverunitarians.ca to register for an upcoming workshop or to learn more.

Rethinking Our Identity – Ministerial Transition Team

Rethinking Our Identity

Ministerial Transition Team

Sign up for a workshop to help rethink our identity – read on.

We have described the five phases of a ministerial transition in previous messages and presentations, but to put it most simply, we need to answer three key questions in this transition process:

  1. Where do we come from?
  2. Who are we?
  3. Where are we going?

 

  1. Where do we come from?

We spent the first months of our ministerial transition creating our Congregational History Wall to look at our heritage and our history and to remind ourselves of how this congregation has been shaped and formed.

  1. Who are we?

We are now in the process of rethinking our identity. The UUA’s Janus Workbook, created to support ministerial transitions, describes this transition phase as “illuminating the congregation’s unique identity, its strengths, its needs, and its challenges”. This is the most important step to complete in our ministerial transition before we search for a new settled minister.

  1. Where are we going?

As we rethink our identity we will envision the congregation we want to be(come) in our future. Determining where are we going includes reviewing our membership needs, how we are organized, and how we will develop new and effective leadership. This transition is ongoing throughout our interim period.

We began this work in the fall with the creation of three task forces:

  • The Organization Design Task Force recommended changes to our organizational structure that the Board has accepted and is implementing.
  • The Long Term Staffing Task Force recommended a new Congregational Administrator position, a new Congregational Membership Coordinator position, and expanding Kiersten Moore’s role to become Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration. The Board accepted all these recommendations and is implementing them.
  • The Young Persons Engagement Task Force presented its findings and shared them with the congregation.

The MTT will be providing support to the Board on the implementation of these task force recommendations.

In January, the MTT created, at the Board’s request, the Decision-Making Task Force to review the four year UCV site redevelopment decision-making process and to provide recommendations for future decision-making processes. This task force will report back in June and will include among its recommendations a more visible and prominent place for our congregationally approved Covenant of Healthy Relations.

Rethinking Our Identity

We plan to engage every UCV member in rethinking our identity. We are organizing 2 1/2 hour workshops based on Appreciative Inquiry principles, an approach to organization transition that focuses on moments of exceptional pride and performance and creates a future that nurtures and supports even more pride and performance. We will answer the question “Who are we?” by sharing our best and most powerful memories of our lives in this congregation.

The process to rethink our identity is based on a set of ‘thought-provoking questions’ (see below). We work in pairs in the workshop to share our responses to these questions and then reconvene in the larger workshop group to identify the common themes in our answers. We then imagine, based on these themes, some ‘possibility statements’ about who and what we would like to be, but that we have not yet achieved. Workshops generally have 6 or 8 participants, but we have also had success with 3 participants.

The workshop has been rewarding and meaningful for those who have participated. All have found it a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. Many appreciated the chance to see and talk to others in this congregation, something we have been missing during the pandemic. We will let you know when provincial guidelines will allow us to hold in-person workshops, probably on our UCV campus (even if outside only).

We will invite those who cannot participate in a workshop to review the thought-provoking questions with another person in a one-on-one interview. We want everyone to have a conversation with at least one other person about their answers to these questions. We will ask those who are not able to do this to respond individually to the thought-provoking questions.

Here is an abbreviated version of these questions:

  1. Reflecting on your entire experience at UCV, remember a time when you felt most engaged, alive, and motivated. Who was involved? What did you do? How did it feel? What happened?
  2. What are the healthiest, most life-giving aspects of the relationships among people at UCV? What would you say is most important about how we relate to each other? Give some examples of how we live together at our best.
  3. What are the most valuable aspects of our congregation’s worship? What makes your worship alive and meaningful? What shapes your Unitarian faith?
  4. What do you believe are the most important and meaningful elements of our congregation’s engagement with the local community, the nation, and the world?
  5. What are the most important things our Unitarian community has contributed to your life? Who or what made a difference?
  6. What are the most valuable ways you contribute to our congregation – your personality, your perspectives, your skills, your activities, your character? Give me some examples.
  7. What do you think is the most important, life-giving characteristic of our UCV congregation? What makes Unitarians or UCV unique?
  8. Make three wishes for the future of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation. Describe what this faith community would look like as these wishes come true.
  9. Is there anything else you would like to add?

We invite existing committees, teams, and groups in the congregation to contact us to organize a workshop with you.

We also invite individuals who are not part of any active groups in UCV to contact us and we will organize groups of 6 or 8 at a time that will be convenient for all participants.

Please also contact us if you have any questions or want more information about this transition process.

Rob Dainow (rdainow@gmail.com; 604-523-0123)  Vivian Davidson (vdavidsonc@gmail.com; 778-318-3713)  Marg Fletcher (mfletcher508@gmail.com; 778-772-1120)  Leslie Hill (lesliehill49@gmail.com; 604-321-7175)

In the Interim: April 2021

“The path of awakening is not about becoming who you are. Rather it is about unbecoming who you are not.” – Albert Schweitzer

We are past the cooler months, past the Vernal Equinox and looking towards the greening, blooming promise of Spring.  What will it bring? What will grow in our gardens this year? What new hatchlings and buds of creativity, action and purpose will shape and fill our time, our attention, our community?  What will we become?  As any caterpillar knows, becoming something new means shedding something old, taking a risk and growing beyond what they once were.

Our Soul Matters theme for the month of April is “Becoming”.  What does it mean to be a people of BECOMING?  This is what our worship services and programs will explore in the coming weeks. Indeed, it is a question we have been engaging in for quite some time, as we work our way through the process of ministerial transition.  The Board, Ministerial Transition Team, myself as Interim Minister, and you, the congregation, we have all been working hard to review and evaluate the way things have been. We are making decisions about what to keep and what to leave behind as we try on new ways of being, new roles for staff and leadership, new ways of carrying out the mission of UCV, envisioning a bright and promising future. This is what it means to be a people of becoming: improving our capacity to meet the vision and demands of change. It matters, though, whether we consider becoming an individual task or the task of communities in covenant, having a commitment to one another. The task of becoming requires that we connect with the values beneath the choices and actions. we can’t predict the path. But if, along with the question of where we are going, we ask the question, “Who are we becoming as we go?”, the answers may prove illuminating.

The world that is and the world that we want it to be remain profoundly connected. The multiple platforms, online, in-person, small group, on their way to find us, been here for decades, all remain deeply intertwined. And this, as white poet e.e. cummings would say, is the root of the root and the bud of the bud, or the very source of our divine life and thriving.

Things are changing; they will be changing for a while yet. Don’t let the feelings of uncertainty convince you that you’re missing more than you are. You are a wonderful gift and all the gifts that you bring will help UCV grow and develop into its potential. You can help with the questions of where we’re going and who we are becoming. It is a destination on the other side of a pandemic that we have yet to explore. This month we are asking UCV asking members and friends for financial pledges to support this remarkable journey.

It seems that we too must go through such a time, where life as we have known it is over – when being a caterpillar feels somehow false and yet we don’t know who we are supposed to become. All we know is that something bigger is calling us to change.  – Elizabeth Lesser

April 2021 Update from the Board of Trustees

Dear Unitarian Friends,

With the blossoming of spring comes hope, light, and a sense of comfort born from Mother Natures faithfulness to us. To top off this seasonal levity, here is some good news from your diligent Board of Trustees.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee and members of the Executive Board continue to work hard on the Sanctuary Upgrades; a Forum will be scheduled soon so please stay tuned.

After soliciting input from the congregation via email, phone and forum, the Board approved the new Organizational Design that was recommended by one of the Ministerial Transition Team task forces, and it is being implemented with some tweaks and adjustments. This design streamlines and clarifies lines of accountability and underscores a collaborative, communicative working environment. It also means that we are going to hire a Membership/Outreach Coordinator to help build our membership and engage with the wider community.

The Board also engaged the congregation via email, phone and forum in a conversation about extending the Interim Ministerial time an extra year. After considering all of the feedback, the Board has decided to extend our Interim Ministerial time an extra year.

Finally, the Decolonizing Practices Workshop is full! Looking forward to seeing everyone who signed up for it on Saturday April 24 from 10 – 3; zoom link to come.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at president@vancouverunitarians.ca

Happy spring,
Diane.

Ministerial Transition Team Update for Feb. 2021

The Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) supports our ministerial transition process with guidance from Reverend Lara, our interim minister. We support this transition with regular updates on where we are, how we are doing, what we are learning, and where we are going. This is our monthly update. 

January has been a transitional month in our ministerial transition. We continue to build our online history wall – UCV Stories. We have shared a few short video presentations, one based on the Members section and one based on the Environment section of the UCV Stories online wall. We will share a few more of these video visits to UCV Stories in February. We invite all congregants to look at UCV Stories themselves and to share your own stories from your life in this community. 

In February we will also continue to explore some of our visions for a future UCV. Several congregants have already shared short videos to describe their visions of their future UCV:

  • Lynn Armstrong envisioned live weddings from our exquisite and well-equipped livestreaming sanctuary; 
  • Noella and Cohen Prescod looked forward to both in-person and live-streamed services so that those who cannot join in person can still attend our services; 
  • Rob Dainow imagined a UCV community that includes new people who have ‘discovered’ us since we began to live-stream services in 2020; 
  • Olivia Hall envisioned how we can live our faith by embodying / practising our Unitarian values and principles in every decision we make and in every action we take; 
  • Thora Gislason imagined regular testimonials from members about their own spiritual path – how they came to Unitarianism and to UCV, where they find meaning in their spiritual lives, how they live their faith; 
  • Diane Brown described her hope that we will become a diverse spiritual, cultural, and social activism hub – a destination for people to practise these things together and to support each other.

Let us know if you want to share what you hope to see in our congregational future. 

The MTT in January reviewed and forwarded to the Board reports from Task Forces on Organizational Design, Long Term Staffing Needs, and Youth Engagement. A new task force on Congregational Decision Making (CDM) will begin its work during February. All five CDM task force members chose to enrol and participate in a Convergent Facilitation course as they begin their work together.

The MTT will join Reverend Lara at the Feb. 28 service to share with you what we have learned and discerned from working on the Congregational History Wall project.

Lots to do in February! All aboard!

from Transition Team, Rob Dainow, Chair

January, 2021 – Imagining The Future For UCV

We are travelling the “road ahead”, our ministerial transition. We have made great progress on our first developmental/transition task, “Coming to terms with history”, and we continue to build our history wall. Please visit or revisit UCV Stories to discover our past and to add your own memories and stories.

We begin our second transition task this month – “Discovering a new identity”. The UUA’s Janus Workbook, created to support ministerial transitions, describes this second transition task as “Illuminating the congregation’s unique identity, its strengths, its needs, and its challenges”. Simply put, it is time to imagine the future we want to become, to stretch ourselves, to look into our crystal balls, and to use our imaginations to reshape our reality and transform UCV into the congregation we dream to be. Our imaginations are the magic that will get us there.

Our Soul Matters theme for January is “Imagination”, and Reverend Lara explains in her January 2021 In the Interim that we will explore imagination in various ways during this month. Unleashing our imaginations will help our Vancouver Unitarians world come alive – an exciting step in our “road ahead”!

from Transition Team, Rob Dainow, Chair