Twelve people gathered on October 15th at noon for the forum on the mission of MSUS. The session started with a brief presentation that included a review of our current vision and mission statements, a definition of mission and vision, why a shared understanding of our mission is important, and what has changed at MSUS that makes this discussion timely. I discussed these issues in my October newsletter article.
The majority of the forum was spent addressing the following questions about our current mission statement (statement is below).
- What do you like about our current statement?
- What is missing? What would you add?
- What is unique about MSUS in comparison to other UU churches?
- What other comments do you have?
Here’s some highlights from the discussion.
What do you like about our current statement?
One of things that people liked about the statement is that it covers the 7 UU Principles. It covers what we do in worship, religious education, and other programs. It leaves room for future endeavors.
What is missing? What would you add?
Several people commented that a statement about our role in the larger community - how we demonstrate our values on the ground is missing. What is our purpose regarding outreach?
What is unique about Unitarian Universalism and MSUS?
Several people commented that we are known for being kind - going beyond the word kind – we demonstrate a loving kindness. Acceptance was another key word that surfaced in the conversation. It was stated that people are respected as individuals here. The words “unconditional acceptance”, “accepting of different theological and political views” and “this is a place you can be your authentic real self” were words that were used.
People felt that religious education should be an important component of or mission. This is a place that helps people to live ethical and moral lives.
What other comments do you have?
People felt that the statement was too broad, too general, too long, and not inspiring.
I would like to continue to have discussions with people about these questions. The next key step will be a retreat on a Saturday in January. During these 3 to 4 hours we will identify key words and find phrases that resonate for us.
Our current mission statement is to:
- Promote Unitarian Universalist traditions of liberty and respect, justice and compassion, and the use of reason
- Empower our members in their search for meaning by fostering intellectual and spiritual growth
- Support our members in living ethical lives based on integrity and service
- Celebrate together and minister to one another in good times and bad
- Work, as individuals and as a congregation, to improve the larger community and our natural environment
Developing a mission statement is hard work. It is important that everyone participate in the process. If you were unable to attend the forum and would like to provide input, please send an email to me (Laurie), or see me during social hour.