UBC Family,

Last week we published the first quarterly report outlining the collective work of our congregation as we strive to implement the recommendations of our 2016 Vision Plan. If you did not receive a copy, please notify the church, and we will send you the report or you can pick one up at the church.

Working with committee chairs and work group leaders to prepare this report provided me an opportunity to pause, and recognize just how much we have done together in the last few months—and it is a phenomenal amount of work we have accomplished (you will note the report is sixteen pages in length). Not only that, but when we voted on the Vision Plan in early April, we were just beginning a new fiscal year that included a significant revision to previous budgets and changes to our personnel structure. Looking back over these last few months gives me pause not only to absorb all the work our committees and work groups have accomplished, but also to give thanks for our entire church staff. My colleagues and friends have worked together to make transitions run smoothly and have demonstrated, to no one’s surprise, their love and commitment to UBC and our shared mission.

I encourage you to read the report. The bold type print in the report is taken directly from the Vision Plan approved by the congregation. Many of the proposals also include information that was printed in the Vision Plan to provide instruction or further thoughts from the congregational meetings. All the quarterly updates are printed in italics.

In many ways, the biggest undertaking from our Vision Plan is the start of a monthly Sunday evening service in the contemplative tradition. You will see in the report that many members of the congregation have joined the efforts to plan for this service—providing direction not only for the music and liturgy of the service, but also preparation of the sanctuary, publicity, and meals. The various subcommittees will continue to announce meetings and invite anyone interested in working and sharing ideas to join in the work.

In addition to the report, the church received and approved a proposal from our Faith and the Arts Committee. Professors from both USM and WCU have expressed the need for studio space for young artists who have recently graduated from art programs. The Faith & the Arts Committee believes that opening some of our unused space in the Kitchings wing for that purpose will provide a new opportunity for mission and ministry with young adults. Instead of charging rent for the space, artists in residence will be asked to give time to the congregation (curating the gallery, assisting children with worship art projects, etc.). The Artist in Residency program will provide an opportunity for the congregation to build relationships with and work alongside young artists. All artists will be vetted first by their professors and then by the Faith & the Arts Committee and will be asked to work in a way that respects the mission of our congregation. I personally find that this type of mission venture is the kind of creative enterprise churches of the 21st century must engage in, in order to serve and share faith with the “nones and dones.” It also roots UBC in the long history of the Church’s work to help shape the vocations of young adults, especially artists.

Needless to say, UBC remains an active and vibrant fellowship. We have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to in the coming months. May Holy Spirit continue to lead us!

Journeying Together,