A Message from Patti McCall, WSUU Board President
There continues to be discussion about Sunday services, the Worship Council and the Board so, as promised in our effort to be transparent, I wanted to bring you up to date on what your Board has been working on. At the end of this letter, you will find four links: one to the Mid-Year Report I offered on January 28th; one to the video from our Regional Transitions Coach, Rev. Nancy Bowen; a link to the Letter of Affirmation to the congregation from your Board; and one titled Norms for Sunday Service written by Rev. Alex Holt.
The Mid-Year Report is the speech I gave along with a PowerPoint presentation at the well-attended meeting (thank you!). The quoted lines are the headings of the visual presentation. Otherwise, I think you will find it pretty clear.
The video from Rev. Nancy Bowen is about 22 minutes long and is an excellent summary of what will be our Search Process for a new called minister. As an aside, I would like to thank the Discernment Team and the three members of the Board who made phone calls and reached out to the congregation for possible names for the Ministerial Search Team. John Britt, the Facilitator for the Discernment Team, has reported that 71 individual names were suggested for the MST representing a much larger swath of our congregation than the previous process. After asking lots of questions and weighing the many variables, the Discernment Team will be working for the next two months to discern the team of seven people to serve on the MST. This slate will be presented to the congregation for a vote of affirmation at a meeting in April.
The week following the Mid-Year Meeting, the Board met in Executive Session. Our intent was to review the emails and discussions that had occurred the previous two weeks and to come up with a plan of how to proceed. As discussion evolved, we soon realized that we first needed to clarify who’s ultimately responsible for our Sunday Worship Service. That only required going to the Worship Council Handbook to learn that our minister is in charge of our Sunday Services and works with the Worship Council to create services that are meaningful and reflect our diverse congregation. A member of the Board worked hard and went through documents already in place to create the Letter of Affirmation which was handed out to the congregation on February 4, 2018. The Letter affirms what has been working in our congregation for a while now as well as recommendations including that “Rev. Alex Holt and the Worship Council continue to solicit creative initiatives for worship themes, formats and speakers, and coordinate with lay members, groups and staff to plan meaningful and inspiring worship services.”
Because it involved them directly, the Letter of Affirmation was sent to the Worship Council, Rev. Alex Holt, the Music Director and the praise service team the day before it was handed out to the congregation. And realizing praise services originating from the US Southern religious tradition have been a genesis for conversation about various future service models arising out of the Six Sources, an invitation was also extended to the praise service team to attend the next Worship Council Meeting so they would be able to voice their hopes and thoughts.
The final link is to the document titled “Norms for Sunday Service” written by Rev. Alex and was presented to those attending the Worship Council Meeting on February 8th. The four norms offer guidelines for all services at Westside UU regardless of format, style or topic. Rev. Alex was also very clear that he and the Worship Council were not only open to, but would encourage, creative Sunday services which represents our congregation’s diverse expectations of what encompasses a worship service. Everyone present agreed that the Four Norms offered creative flexibility while assuring that our services are respectful to the congregation, visitors in the pews, the Religious Exploration staff and volunteers and possible guest speakers.
Finally, the Board has a meeting coming up this week and you can be assured the discussion will continue. We continue to receive emails and listen to opinions and concerns; and we will continue to share how we are representing you and our mission. Because we are in this together.
One more aside: A huge Thank You and Congratulations to Viv Monahan and the hard-working Auction Committee. Reaching for the Moon was an amazing event filled with laughter and love. And not only did we have a great time, but it was also a tremendous success as our major fundraiser for the year as well. Thanks to the Auction Team, thanks to the members of our community who donated such tempting items to be auctioned, and thanks to the 145 people who showed up to laugh and spend!
In Loving Community,
WSUU Board President