June 2023 Interim Ministry Update
The Transition Team welcomes new members Terri Schmiesing, fresh off the Board of Trustees, and Meg Joseph, co-leader of our UU Squad (middle and high school students). We thank Bill Ellis and Lauri Watkins for their leadership on the team and wish them well as they join the Board of Trustees.
Here are some of the themes we have been working on:
Compassionate Communication, the most important interim goal: Rev. Ben has given some wonderful sermons that can be found on our YouTube Channel. They are worth going back to for advice when working through conflict, such as first seeing see the other person as a person, not as an obstacle or a problem.
We had a fishbowl conversation (an all-congregation heart-to-heart), with a small group of six discussing their thoughts about the proposed changes in Article II. conversation with the rest looking on. The six participants in the fishbowl changed out as others were ready to come into the fishbowl. We had civil conversation without flaring up, and people became more informed.
Both a men’s group and a women’s group have formed to build fellowship and talk about issues of concern to the participants. The Welcoming Congregation team has consulted about having a third group, but the parameters of the group have not been decided yet. We may also explore gender patterns in our conversations.
We’ve worked with Nonviolent Communication, which works best when there’s already trust built into the relationship. When trust is low, it is important to pay more attention to your conversation partner’s vulnerability.
We will play with different structures for conversations next year. Rev. Ben is thinking of a dedicated group to work on communication skills with a monthly offering on communication. Priority: when something doesn’t feel right in a meeting, more people will be willing to speak up about it in the moment. We are attracting a more diverse group of people and we want to make sure we are acting in a welcoming way to new folks and not perpetuating microaggressions (or subtle acts of exclusion). We’ve made great progress. There will be occasional flare-ups and that is normal. Rev. Ben is working with folks to help them become active participants in supporting dialogue when there is conflict. This could lead to training and formation of a Right Relations team. One idea is a weekly themed conversation, possibly with a common read of a book. Towards Collective Liberation is a book we might consider that explores naming and recognizing marginality—paying attention to who is getting attention in the room.
Accountability: If someone is dominating the conversation and another person calls it out, the first person trusts their word and works to improve. We can be mean to each other when engaging in anti-oppression work. People are offended when they think their words are misrepresented. It may be helpful when two people need to work something out, to have a conversation where each person has a trusted witness who can help them see the gaps in their own understanding.
The Ministerial Search Team will be tasked with organizing cottage meetings to help identify what kind of minister we need. The transition team will coordinate with the search team, and having Terri on both will help with that. The search team will need to submit a congregational record (like a profile) by the end of December reflecting who we are and what we are looking for in a minister.
The Culture of Volunteering: Bill and Lauri are committed to carrying the volunteer project forward and came up with a project plan. September 17th is “Bring a Friend Sunday,” when everyone is encouraged to bring a friend (or friends). We will also have a Stewardship Celebration and volunteer fair during this event. We hope to have the volunteer interests and skills survey done and a volunteer guide created from the existing program guide. Bill and Lauri will solicit information from each of the teams and committees about what it’s like to volunteer with them. Unveiling of this infrastructure will require a website update ahead of this time. Having a Volunteer Coordinator or Co-coordinators will be critical to moving this forward.
The transition team will be changing its meeting time to accommodate the schedules of our new members. The meetings will be on the calendar with a zoom link and are open to anyone to come and hear firsthand about our work.
Your Transition Team,
Jean, Anne, Dee, Meg, Terri, and Rev. Ben
What is Interim Ministry?
… and how does the Transition Team support it?
Three general goals of interim ministry
- Come to terms with the past (celebrate the good; process the challenging)
-this will happen in Sunday services, workshops, listening circles, informal conversations, etc.
- Be together in the present (melt the honey)
-this will happen in Sunday services, special events, covenant groups, justice actions, etc.
- Dream and plan for the future
-this will happen in visioning sessions in the final year of interim ministry.
Goals specific to UUCCWC
(These can change throughout the interim period)
- Process recent trauma (of the last year, and the ending of the last settled ministry) and what is needed to regain trust
- Explore with the congregation how to be committed to both freedom and equity
- Practice skills for direct, compassionate communication when there is conflict, and what to do when direct communication doesn’t work.
- Address over-functioning volunteers and how to spread the work
- Become a more active presence in Hillsboro, including in justice work.
- Celebrate our history, our gifts, and who we want to be
- Deepen relationships with UUs beyond our congregation
Main roles of the Transition Team
- Have the pulse of the congregation. How are people doing as we move through interim ministry?
- Meet monthly with the interim minister to share the pulse of the congregation and together we figure out what the congregation most needs as interim work and how best to do it
- Educate the congregation about interim, and encourage the congregation to engage in the interim work (especially those in leadership positions).