Mission Task Force
After months of careful work, UUCPA’s Mission Task Force is delighted to propose the following text as the church’s new Mission Statement, subject to vote by the congregation.
our different paths entwined,
to deepen our spiritual lives:
learning from each other,
caring for each other,
tending to our world.
We believe this Mission Statement:
- Tells the story of why UUCPA exists in the world;
- Can be recited easily during Sunday Services; and
- Will serve us well in church publicity.
The Mission Statement was written by UUCPA’s Mission Task Force and draws on insights and perspectives from across the congregation. On the rest of this page, below, we:
- Explain the goals of our work;
- Lay out how we gathered and analyzed insights from the congregation related to UUCPA’s purpose;
- Present the findings of our inquiry, which formed the basis for the proposed Mission Statement; and
- Summarize how we crafted the Mission Statement.
Our charge: Develop a new Mission Statement for UUCPA
UUCPA’s Mission Task Force was convened in August 2022. We were charged by the Board of Trustees with crafting a new Mission Statement for UUCPA that is suitable for reciting at Sunday Services and for use in church publicity. To this end, we were charged with gathering as much input as possible from the congregation.
This work is vital because a church’s mission, once adopted, is in place for many years. It provides a guidepost for year-to-year decisions by the Board of Trustees about policy, finance, and programs. It informs the work of small groups and committees. And it reminds us of who we are, together.
The Task Force members:
- Marilyn Austin, Task Force Chair
- Brooke Bishara, President, UUCPA Board of Trustees
- Edward Haertel
- Chris Kan (through Dec. 2023)
- Matthew Rosin
How we gathered and analyzed insights from the congregation
Gathering as much insight as possible from the congregation was central for our work. We did this in two ways:
- First, we conducted a survey of the congregation about the values and goals that resonate most for us.
- Because being a U.U. means different things to different people, our survey was designed to allow the congregation to be both precise and expressive. It included lists of 17 words and 18 phrases, with a request for people to choose up to five items from each list that resonated most with them when thinking about UUCPA’s mission. Additional thoughts could be added in a text box at the end.
- Using the 116 completed surveys that we received, we analyzed the responses quantitatively to find out how often people selected each word and phrase, which words and phrases tended to go together in people’s responses, and whether groups of people within our diverse congregation seemed to hold more-or-less similar views about what is most important.
- Second, we convened conversations, both in-person and online, about why UUCPA exists in the world.
- During the course of multiple conversation events, 79 members of the UUCPA community, including 14 children and youth, provided input and heard from each other. These were deep and meaningful conversations, and Task Force members took careful notes.
- We analyzed our notes qualitatively, along with the 46 pieces of write-in feedback we received through the survey, and distilled the most central and pervasive themes in what the congregation told us. These findings also cohered powerfully with the quantitative survey results.
Findings: Our collective story about why UUCPA exists in the world
At a congregational meeting in November 2022, the Task Force presented UUCPA’s collective story about why UUCPA exists in the world, organized thematically. Members of the Task Force also met with some specific constituencies—including the Forum and Humanist groups and the Senior High Youth Group—to share the findings as broadly as possible.
Our findings are as follows. Each major finding includes a brief discussion of what we learned through our conversations with the congregation, as well as a reflection (in italics) on how the finding is supported by the survey results.
- Our connection is fundamental to all that we do.
There were repeated comments about feeling very connected to other UUCPA people and highly valuing this.
Word and phrase choices on the survey told a similar story—fully 75% of the respondents chose the word “connection,” the highest percentage for any item.
- Sunday Services and other ritual contexts provide a refuge for inspiration and renewal.
Although some of us resist the use of the word worship, most of us value the opportunity to pause our ordinary lives on Sunday morning and be inspired by the music, ritual, and spoken reflections of UUCPA’s Sunday services. Many also appreciate (and would like more) other shared opportunities and pathways for spiritual growth.
Analyses showed that a cluster of phrases including “Free and loving search for spiritual meaning,” “Reverence,” and “Nurturing our true selves” resonated with many respondents.
- Our shared rituals and activities provide openings for self-examination and evolution.
Many of the comments in this category were expressing alternatives to the currently-used word transformation. People value the variety of contexts at UUCPA wherein they are supported and encouraged to deepen their own understanding about the meaning of life and the implications this has for how they want to live during various stages of their life cycle—we become more fully ourselves, together.
Almost half of the respondents (45%) included the phrase “Free and loving search for spiritual meaning” among those that resonated with them when thinking about UUCPA’s mission. In one analysis, this was part of a cluster of words and phrases along with “Reverence,” “Nurturing our true selves,” “Listen,” and “Love.”
- We value our differences and the opportunity to learn from one another.
Being part of UUCPA gives us the opportunity to know and learn from people who are different from us in various ways, including religious beliefs, spiritual practice, ethnicity, cultural background, generation, gender identity, sexual orientation, skill sets, and ability or disability. What we give to each other is not only intellectual (e.g., new ideas, critical thinking) but also the capacity to perceive and feel more deeply and to bring our lives into greater alignment with our values.
Many respondents for whom the word “Diversity” resonated were also drawn to words and phrases including “Cherishing our differences,” “Working together,” and “Compassion for all.”
- We live our values through collective action to make the world better.
UUCPA folks differ in beliefs but are generally aligned in terms of values. We appreciate being able to work together to put those values into action, for those within and beyond our own congregation and community.
Over half the respondents included the word “Justice” as one with resonance for them, and it was strongly associated with words and phrases including “Campaigning for justice” and “Diversity” as well as “Earth” and “The wellbeing of the earth.”
- We support each other through the celebrations, transitions, and vulnerabilities of life.
People reported being grateful for the support they had received from others at UUCPA during difficult times in their lives. They said they felt free to share their vulnerabilities because they could expect support rather than rejection.
About a third of respondents selected the phrase, “Honoring each person’s life journey,” and it was strongly associated with the word “Love” and the phrase “Compassion for all.”
- Religious education empowers children and youth to participate in all of the above.
A significant number of people said that they had come to UUCPA specifically because of the strong CYRE program. This included some who had left other UU congregations for this reason and some whose children are now grown but who reported originally coming to UUCPA for this reason.
Over a third of the survey respondents selected one or more of the words and phrases “Teach,” “Building bridges across generations,” and “Stewardship for the future.”
Proposing a new Mission Statement
From January through March of 2023, the Task Force commenced work on crafting a new Mission Statement that would authentically reflect our findings, be easily sayable, and be suitable for use in church publicity.
We developed and workshopped our ideas extensively through both video conference meetings and email correspondence. When the Task Force felt that we had homed in on the proper direction for the Mission Statement, we invited parish minister Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern and assistant minister Rev. Catherine Boyle to participate in our meetings and offer their insights.
After we agreed on the proposed text, we presented the Mission Statement to Rev. Morgenstern and Rev. Boyle, the Committee On Ministry, and the Board Of Trustees. In all cases, the Mission Statement received a warm and enthusiastic response.
Now, in April 2023, we present our proposed Mission Statement to the congregation, in advance of an up-or-down congregational vote on whether to adopt the Mission Statement, as written, at the church’s Annual Meeting on April 23.
In the meantime, we invite you to take some time to reflect on the proposed Mission Statement at the top of this page. Read it aloud. How do these words resonate with you? What feelings do they inspire? What promises do they make about how and why we gather?
Thank you to each and every member of the UUCPA community who has contributed to this effort so far. We hope you’ll agree that the proposed Mission Statement expresses our collective identity and ideals, toward UUCPA’s next 75 years.
The UUCPA Mission Task Force
Current Members (April 2023):
Marilyn Austin, Task Force Chair
Brooke Bishara, President, UUCPA Board of Trustees