505. By the first of February each year, congregations within our denomination provide a variety of membership, statistical, and financial information to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). This information is used to calculate our Fair Share contribution, regional dues, and the number of voting delegates who can represent First Unitarian during General Assembly. This year, our congregation will be reporting a membership number of 505.
Having a membership number over 500 is a very important milestone. It means that our growing church is officially categorized as a “large” congregation within our denomination. It means that we are one of three large congregations in New England. It means that how we are viewed by the New England Region and the UUA will change as we are looked on as doing something right to attract and retain new members to our liberal faith. It also means that if our growth is sustained, our governance, staff, and volunteer structures will need to change.
Our current structure worked well when we were a congregation of between 300 and 400 members. But as we approach and exceed 500 members, we are seeing signs that our structures are at or over capacity and need to change. We were reminded of this by the Rev. David Pyle during a staff-assessment briefing in January with the Prudential Committee. He recommended several changes during the next two to five years, supported our long list of technology upgrades, and added a few improvements for consideration. We plan to discuss his recommendations and their implications during the February Prudential Committee meeting.
We also held our winter Board retreat in January, and I want to share two observations. We participated in two team-building exercises that initially appeared to be impossible to accomplish. But as we worked together and shared insights, minds were changed, the impossible was possible, and we successfully completed the tasks in record time. This is something to keep in mind as our congregation evolves or new ideas are introduced. We also compiled a list of our accomplishments during the past 18 months. It was a long and impressive list of accomplishments and a reminder that there is a lot going on in our church.
And now for a few updates. During a well-attended Communication Summit, Bev and Bill Koteff presented the challenges and impacts of the way church information is delivered and consumed. Many ideas and recommendations were discussed. Look for changes in the months ahead as some of the ideas are implemented.
I want to thank all those who visited our “Ask the PruComm” table in January. We are trying something new to increase the visibility of the Prudential Committee and to increase awareness of our role as the governing body of our church. We plan to host a table one Sunday each month for the rest of the church year. We will host our next “Ask the PruComm” table on Sunday, February 10, during Coffee Hour. So please stop by if you are curious, say hello, and ask a question or learn more about how we serve you the members of our congregation.
President, Prudential Committee