Fred’s Flavorings for December 2018
I know some folks are wondering about some changes that have been made to the Sunday services. Things we have always done have stopped.
The changes have been small but important ones. As a congregation you decided to take a risk to shift the trajectory from a dying congregation towards a thriving and sustainable one. I heard that as a mandate to grow this congregation and to make the changes to assist towards making that happen.
The changes that I have made are based in a theology of building community. There are at least two schools of thought regarding worship. One is that worship is a program to be performed. This is where the topic and a blurb / trailer is published in advance. Sometimes even the hymns and choir anthems are published in advanced. With this knowledge, the attendee decides whether or not to attend or they may have an assumption of what the point of view of the speaker is and they may feel they already know. Or they may attend if the service is convenient for them.
Some folks may take this to the extreme and won’t ever attend a service if that person is speaking or that topic is covered. I see this school of thought as consumer centered and not in keeping with MUUF’s covenant.
I approach Sunday from a different theology. The program is not the reason for coming to a service. Unitarian Universalists covenant with other people not with a program. The call is to show up not because a specific topic is being presented or a specific speaker is there, or the choir is offering the anthem but because people whom I have Covenanted with are counting on my being there. If the sermon or the choir is especially moving or inspiring that is an added bonus.
The purpose of attending is to support one another in our journeys. The words of encouragement or the comfort offered by being with others can be the most life-giving act of the Sunday service.
The second change that people have commented on is visitor welcome. Everything that I have read and heard from other congregations that are growing have found that this practice is not helpful to that aim. I know that people like to hear who the people are and where they are from. This might serve our interests, but it doesn’t serve the visitors needs to feel welcomed. Being pointed out is not a welcoming gesture. It is more important, in fact it is vital in welcoming visitors is to greet them after the service. Welcoming phrases might be, “Hi, I’m <insert name>, come join us for refreshments.” “Glad to have you with us, I’m <insert name.>”
MUUF has set a goal to intentionally grow this Fellowship so it is a sustaining and valuable presence in this region. These changes are to assist in achieving that goal. There may be other changes that we will make in the weeks ahead to aid us in that endeavor.
The Committee on Shared Ministry, composed of Al Usack, Randy McCrea and Sally Isham meets monthly. The purpose of the COSM is to work with the minister, Rev. Fred Hammond, and the congregation to measure our progress toward achieving the five goals taken from the congregational survey done in Fall 2017 and included in Rev. Hammond’s contract. See the poster in the social room which further describes the work of this committee.
Rev. Fred L Hammond joined our staff as a full-time Developmental Minister on September 1, 2018. He comes to us from 10 years as a settled minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Rev. Fred earned his Masters of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School In Chicago in 2007 and also his Masters of Science in Counselor Education from Western CT State University in Danbury CT in 1983 following his BA in English in 1980. Fred is experienced in organizational development and seeks to strengthen the Universalist Unitarian Faith through transformative programming, consultation and collaborative teamwork. He is skilled in leadership development, healthy Congregations, group behavior and dynamics, stress management, community building and is an experienced mediator and charismatic public speaker. Some of his social action accomplishments include the co-founding of the Tuscaloosa Economic Justice Coalition, Druid City Pride, Somos Tuskaloosa, Faith Leaders for Peace in San Diego and the interfaith AIDS Ministry of Greater Danbury, Danbury CT. He received a number of Proclamations of Achievement for his work in CT between 1993 and 2003 by the Danbury Mayor, Connecticut Governor and State Assembly and had Fred Hammond Day declared in 2002 for his 10 years of achievements.
When he has spare time he enjoys writing short stories, journal articles, his blog, photography, genealogy and long quiet walks.
Here are a few pictures from our meet and greet dinner with Rev. Fred in May 2018.
And Now it’s Official : Contract Signed!