By Karen Young, Parish Board Chair, and Rev. Rebecca Bryan

The visioning workshops have concluded, and we had 186 congregants participate—representing 31% of the 595 members and friends, as well as a robust group of 16 youth who came ready to play! Workshop participation was more than 5% higher than the 20-25% participation rate noted by Unity Consulting as the typical participation rate in this type of work, and about 78% of our average Sunday attendance this year. An incredible effort and so much wisdom-sharing among our newly minted facilitators to make each workshop go better than the one before. All told, we have over 100 values, over 180 wishes and over 30 visual pieces depicting your future vision of FRS. Incredible!

“Thanks to everyone who participated in the congregational conversations,” says Rev. Rebecca. “It was wonderful to see such a broad array of people engaged in this process. Groups included new members and friends, long time members and those who fit somewhere in between. I especially want to thank those of you would didn’t initially want to participate and did so anyway. Your dedication and love for this congregation continues to amaze me. We are blessed. I look forward to the next steps in this journey, and even more so to celebrating and then living into the mission we create.”

Please extend gratitude and thanks to our fabulous facilitators when you see them again: Anne Dodge, Gail Fayre, Stephen-Wolf Foster, Greg Garnache, Natalie Hildt-Treat, Leslie Lawrence, Annie Maurer, Frances McLaughlin, Julie Menin, Lea Pearson, Sandra Thaxter, Anne Verret-Speck, and Renee Wolf-Foster.

Please also extend gratitude and thanks to our Core Team who has moved this process along on behalf of the board: Tom Himmel, Renee Wolf-Foster and Forrest Speck.

We could not have done this without all of these folks giving up their time and energy and without their willingness to adapt and evolve!

The next part of the process begins with qualitative data analysis which means that every piece of data collected at the workshops on flip-chart paper, that has been dutifully entered by a board member into a spreadsheet, will be reviewed and analyzed for strong, recurring values words, dreams, and themes. The data will be formulated into manageable material for each board member to digest. At the start of our Nested Bowls retreat in late January, each board member will lift up important values and themes they see emerging in the data. And, to continue utilizing the story-telling technique, each board member will bring a story to the retreat. It may be a story we heard in workshop or it may be a story based on our observations during the workshop.

The board will then get more specific about “What are people telling the board about the central purpose of the institution and the difference in lives it’s called to make?” (Nested Bowls, Laura Park)  We will develop a group of values that represent the core qualities of our community, and we will articulate our mission statement. This mission will be carefully and thoughtfully pondered, discussed, dissected and crafted. From this mission, we will create ends – this is how we will, as a community, live into our mission next. This is how we, as a community, will measure our progress towards fulfilling our mission.

Following our retreat, our work will be presented to the congregation for reaction. This will be a time to absorb and reflect and understand that our co-created mission is the product of many voices, viewpoints, backgrounds and experiences within and without FRS. Our mission is not about any one individual journey, or what our church is doing now, or what it has done in the past, but what can we do from this point forward to change lives within, among, and beyond. These are exciting times and we are so thankful to have all of you along for the ride!

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