Thanks to our Congregation: Rev Jill Carey 11/16/2021

Dear Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving month to all of you! Among the many things for which I am grateful, your loving presence and the tenacity of our community is right there at the top! We have made it through this pandemic intact, which has not been the case, unfortunately, for many churches in this country. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued spiritual (and financial) investment in Unity of Wimberley.

Here is a recap and subsequent action plan regarding the HUG (Help Unity Grow) meeting held online and in-person on October 13, 2021:

Questions for consideration were sent via an email blast prior to the meeting. These provided a focus and structure for discussion during the meeting and afterwards. It also allowed for those unable to attend to participate in this fashion.

We received three emails prior to the meeting, one of them following the suggested format.

Thirteen people (not counting Board, ministers, and staff) attended in person. Of 64 online views, 56% watched live, and 44% watched the recorded version. Out of a program lasting about two hours, the average view duration was 30 minutes. Forty views were unique or first-time views (not our membership, or have never watched before). Thirteen views were from out of state. This means that a majority of the regular congregation participated very little, a surprising result.

All acknowledged the many losses that were experienced during the pandemic/shut down: loved ones and friends, our collective energy, hugs, live music, the children and young families, social and food events, cohesion, the pool, in-person classes, the women’s retreat, clear direction. (Some of these terms were non-specific.) The distress over the closing of the pool was distilled down to a lack of communication from the Water Team as it was in the process of research and conclusion; results were announced after the team and Board made the decision. This led to discussion of the ongoing, far-reaching problem of not everyone reading the information as it is provided through a number of avenues the church uses (newsletter, website, Facebook Resource  age, Sunday announcements, etc.) Staff and leadership will continue to work toward even more transparency, while keeping in mind that not all will like the decisions being made and the processes leading to them.

Unity of Wimberley’s NOT serving well was expressed in the insufficiency/inconsistency of outreach to members. It DID serve well in providing consistent, quality online services and classes. The following areas/teams were suggested in the meeting as we “restart” the church: keeping YOU involved after high school; having team leaders report to Board, or alternatively, having Board members attend one or more team meetings to keep abreast; property (taking coordination off Llea); social; fundraising; finance; care; community outreach (involvement in local interests); guest integration/mentoring matches; recruitment (?); outdoor holiday gathering; big-screen broadcast of services outdoors. Even if most of these teams are already in existence, the input above led to a “new look” work session in the Oct 18 Board meeting. One of the significant takeaways was the need for a Volunteer Coordinator, and progress is already underway to recruit an interested new member to fill this role. In addition, we are looking to restore coffee/cookie service in November, and volunteers are being recruited. Llea has been compiling all the information regarding grounds, flower beds, wildlife exemption, etc., to augment team leadership. Applications have come in to begin staffing Youth and Family Ministries positions, even as we seek a permanent leader and rotating volunteers.

In conclusion, the HUG meeting was the “kickoff” to a time of renewed vigor and engagement. As we enter this holiday season, we look forward to new life, love, energy and excitement as we come together again.

Much love and many blessings,

Rev Jill