On Friday, September 18, 2015, the Heritage Church Board of Trustees, along with Rev. Bill and Rev. Leslie, met at the home of new board member Donna Buckley for the Annual Fall Board Retreat. Following a delightful potluck meal, lighting of the chalice and a team-building exercise about the efficacy of teams compared to committees, the board members and ministers journeyed through a three-hour process and selected two Shared Ministry Goals for 2015-2016. Those Goals and the rational for each are:
Shared Ministry Goal #1: The board and ministers will lead Heritage to restore and re-imagine the future of family ministry.
The two previous Directors of Religious Education (DREs) at Heritage had “3/4 time” positions (i.e. 30 hours per week) in which to develop and carry out the many activities of our Religious Education (RE) program. Rev. Leslie’s immediate predecessor requested to cut back her hours to half-time (20 hours per week) due to family considerations. Subsequent annual budgets reflected this reduction in DRE hours and have remained at half-time. However, since then the number of children and youth (and families) served by our RE program has increased tremendously. Currently, if all children and youth attended on a given Sunday, they would number 80-90 individuals! There is a critical need to restore the DRE’s position to 30 hours per week so that our Associate Minister of Religious Education (AMRE) can continue essential programs and transform Heritage’s RE ministry into a vital “Family Ministry” in this 21st Century.
Rev. Bill proposed a first step in achieving this goal: Restore the DRE/AMRE’s time to 30 hours per week beginning January 1, 2016. Rev. Bill presented a straightforward and very doable plan for achieving this first step and demonstrated his heartfelt commitment by personally pledging $500. Two other Board members also pledged specific amounts. This information was shared at the Fall Council Meeting (Sunday morning, September 20, 2015) and within two days 25% of the cost had been raised. More details will be announced in the next couple of weeks to address how the entire Heritage community we can restore and re-imagine our RE program.
Shared Ministry Goal #2: The board and ministers will foster congregational commitment to racial justice practices through education, self-examination, and community engagement.
Up until about two years ago, many of Heritage Church’s social justice efforts were largely championed by our senior minister’s energy and personal involvement in various social justice events. A small handful of Heritage members were also involved in specific ministries such as Inter Parish Ministry (IPM) and Interfaith Hospitality Network. Last church year the Board of Trustees decided to lead by example and become intentionally involved in specific social justice projects and issues. More youth and adults also became involved in a growing number of events and projects.
Given the current state of racial injustice in our country, there was a consensus among board members and our ministers that racial justice must continue to be a main focus of our social justice efforts. What are ways in which Heritage members can become allies with outside groups involved in the struggle? We need to examine and educate ourselves about “white privilege” and our own prejudices, while learning authentic ways to become engaged in racial justice actions. We must continue to recognize how local and national events and upcoming elections make involvement in racial justice more necessary than ever. Make sure to check out the HUUC website for current and upcoming opportunities to transform ourselves and thereby transform our society into a more just and peaceful world.