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[Chalice] If our Church had a Vision Statement, [Chalice]
what would it be?

Presented August 18, 2019, by Beth Lane, President of our Board of Trustees

Everything needs a purpose; everyone needs to belong to something bigger than themselves. Our church is united by core values, but values should flow from and be encompassed in a Vision. It's time to begin to think about what a vision for our church might look like.

Why do we need one?

It's been shown on the nation level that congregations who have a vital Vision Statement are more apt to be growing and vital themselves. Our congregation is changing, our times are in upheaval and at such a time a view of who we are and where we want to go can be an anchor and provide a sense of hope and guidance.

How is a Vision Statement arrived at?

By a process of distillation, much like the core values and the mission statements came into being - and much like spirits are distilled from stinky corn mash. All the ideas and thoughts about who we are and what we want to be, along with wishes and yearnings and strong beliefs in causes and even the dislike of other causes, are put into the cauldron and cooked. Allowed to mature into their fullness and then further mature into the separate essences and then blended and formed when all the ideas of the congregation are matured into something new.

These distilled essences are then given voice in a few words that convey what our congregation in its aggregation stands for and works toward both within ourselves and within our community.

No one single voice can be allowed to dominate, no one viewpoint or one political belief or one spiritual concern, or one value, or one anything can hold sway. Our vision statement will contain the essence of all of those, but only IF the congregation will participate in its construction.

We are a bunch of individualistic, intellectual, high-minded people about as easy to herd as cats! So it's up to each one of us individually to agree within ourselves to participate, to contribute in some way with this process we will set up. If you scorn the process or decide it's not important, you forfeit your credibility in any future complaints about the outcome.

The process will be designed to provide will be ample opportunities for input - in a variety of ways. You can speak publically, or quietly submit your thoughts. You can volunteer to be on the committee, or simply wait to vote on the matter at the meeting.

As you look into the future about five years, try to give words to your major concern, or perhaps two or three concerns. Don't worry about getting to the essence, just give us to start, the entire scope of your interest. First the committee will need the raw ideas to work with, much as the distillation process starts with a "mash" of raw product, which is then cooked and stirred and put through a process to free its essence.

For example, one person might say: We need more members because I'm worried that in five years our numbers will have further declined.

From this concern, make a question. You might ask, how can we attract new members? Or more specifically, how can we attract young members or make our congregation more diverse? Maybe the question is "How does the community see us?" or "How can we make ourselves known to people who are a good fit for us and we for them?"

In any event, the answers you get often depend on the quality of the questions asked. And the persistence of the questioner.

Here are some more of the questions:
Which of the core values drives you most, and in what way can that be expressed in the future?
What do we want to be known for in this area?
How can we embody our core values in our actions?
What actions could the church support?

The mechanism of this process is evolving. The Board is looking for volunteers for a 5 to 7 person committee to spear head the creation of a vision. They would be responsible for making sure that all members of the congregation are contacted and offered a way to participate. Some evenings might be hosted in people's homes, some after church or during the week. Perhaps some forms might be used at services or outreach done to those who cannot easily leave their houses. It is hoped that some progress will be made by the January 12th Semi-Annual meeting, and the process completed and the statement ready to be voted on at the May 3rd Annual Meeting.

Once this vision statement is adopted, what will we do with it? We will use it to plan our actions and to choose where to allocate our resources. We will revisit this statement every few years, to see if it still hold or if it needs to be adjusted as priorities change, things are accomplished and the congregation changes.

Our Core Values are constant, how we implement them into our Mission can change over time and where our Vision leads us is toward our future. This will be a good step, and one that will support and complement our Core Values, make it easier to explain who we are, and hopefully increase our positive influence in our community.

At the September meeting the Board will compile a list of questions to start the discussions and finalize the committee to move forward. Then the committee will take over and report back to the Board.

Today, we would ask you for input on questions or concerns that come when you think about our future. We've put out some cards and pencils for you to jot down your concerns, thoughts, hopes and wild crazy dreams for what this church will be in 2025. Please write down any suggestions.

As composer, filmmaker and consultant, Robert Fritz said, "If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise." We do not want to compromise our Vision of the future.

Please consider being part of this committee which will ensure that all the voices of our congregation are given their time to be heard.

©2019 Beth Lane

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article:
Lane, Beth. 2019. If our Church had a Vision Statement, what would it be? , /talks/20190818.shtml (accessed July 9, 2020).

The Quincy Unitarian Church Home Page.
The list of Selected Sermons.