At UUCPA’s recent congregational meeting on November 20, 2022, the Mission Task Force presented the results of our work to date to gather insights from across the congregation about why UUCPA exists in the world.

Eventually, these insights will form the basis for a new Mission Statement, to be voted on by the congregation in the spring.

For now, in what follows below, we explain the goals of our work, lay out how we have gathered and analyzed insights from the congregation related to UUCPA’s purpose, and present our findings.

Our charge: The Mission Task Force will 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.

Our work to date: 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

Now, we present our collective story about why UUCPA exists in the world, organized thematically. Each major theme includes a brief discussion of what we learned through our conversations with the congregation, followed by a reflection (in italics) on how the finding is supported further 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, and skill sets. 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.”

What’s next: Documenting our work and crafting a Mission Statement

This work has been deeply meaningful for us, and we’re grateful to everyone who has contributed their time and insight and listened to one another during this important undertaking.

Currently, we’re documenting our work to date for the UUCPA archives. Then, we’ll begin the careful work of crafting a new Mission Statement for the church, which we intend to present to the congregation for possible adoption at the Spring 2023 Congregational Meeting.

Until then, our hope is that you might be nourished by reading and reflecting on these findings and what they mean for us, both individually and as a congregation. And we thank you for your part in bringing this story to life.

In solidarity,

The UUCPA Mission Task Force

Members:

Marilyn Austin, Task Force Chair

Brooke Bishara, President, UUCPA Board of Trustees

Edward Haertel

Christopher Kan

Matthew Rosin

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