Our People and Our Many Groups
Our church is a warm, friendly community which is caring and inclusive. We became a Welcoming Congregation in 1999, which gave a noticeable lift to our church. Our congregation is highly educated and intelligent, with many ties to the University and Parkland College. The congregation is mostly white, and that is something we would like to change. We are also aging and would be delighted if we could have an influx of young people. We are socially and politically progressive. Although we enjoy readings from the world’s great religions, our theology leans in the humanist direction. There are many atheists and agnostics among us, some of whom are uncomfortable with the mention of “God.” At the same time, we strive to support each other in our spiritual journeys.
Our people tend to be active. Many participate in several church activities, committees or other groups, and we are sometimes astonished to learn about their outside interests, particularly in the area of social action. Among just the seven members of our Search Committee, the following groups are represented: Property Committee, Social Action Committee, Young Adults, Music Committee, Nominating Committee, Worship Committee, Care Core, Gastro Society, Choir, CrUUners, Feminist Book Group, and the Writers Chalice Circle.
There is a balance between commitment to the church, enjoyment of the church and its community, and other life areas, and people sometimes tilt too far in the direction of church commitments. This has at times been an issue in recruiting enough members for some of our committees.
Keeping the church going involves a large number of committees, and in this we are no doubt typical of UU churches, and we have numerous interest groups. Our Annual Report for the most recent year lists fifteen committees, two task forces, four chalice circles and fourteen “small groups”. All of these groups offer numerous opportunities for participating and joining in community, and also for using up limited time. This is a challenge we have often discussed but not fully dealt with. A recent innovation of our Membership Committee, the Hospitality Teams, has had tremendous impact in ensuring that all of the Sunday tasks are taken care of, that everyone is able to volunteer for specific tasks, and that the effort is spread out over a very large number of people (>100 as of now).
Our church is very social action-oriented. There are certain things that we do on a regular basis, such as the shared offering, which started in 2004. We donate half of our Sunday cash collection and all designated checks to a different charity each month. We work on Habitat for Humanity Builds and are now involved in the first interfaith build in the community. We participate every year in the C-U Pride parade. The entire church voted to embark on a two-year Racial Justice Initiative, which just started this fall. It is working on consciousness-raising and education in the first year. Hopefully, this may help us learn how to work on increasing racial diversity in our church, an area in which we would like to improve.
We have a very active Care Core, so named because caring is a “core” value. Every church member is on the listserv, unless they opt out. A core group meets monthly, and send out information about things going on with people in the church who may need a phone call, visit, meals, ride to a medical appointment, card, or some other kind of help. We take care of each other and many members have been amazed at the amount of help provided when they needed an extra hand.