Mission Statement of the Unitarian Society of Hartford
As a growing, evolving, spiritual community inspired by our denominational values, we will commit ourselves to:
o Nurture our needs for inspirational worship and a mutually caring community
o Devote ourselves to religious learning for all ages
o Embrace human diversity by welcoming individuals and families of all kinds, and
o Join with the larger community to promote love, justice and service to society
Toward these ends we pledge our talents, energies and resources.
Strategic Task Force
Who are we as Unitarian Universalists and where do we see ourselves in the next 5-10 years? As we explore the process of growth and renewal, many questions remain unanswered but four basic themes and values permeate the essence of everything we discuss. These basic tenets emerged as follows:
• We are a spiritual congregation challenged to grow and explore within our community.
• We look outward to actively seek and participate in worldwide peace, freedom and social justice through responsible relationship with the local and global communities.
• We choose to improve our facilities in order to enhance our worship, education and community experiences.
• We strive to foster efficiency and simplify our governance structure in order to become more responsive to the congregation’s needs.
Throughout the document you will find thematic congruence between and among every major effort from education to worship—from our community within to the larger community—from spiritual growth to social action. Nothing stands alone.
These recommendations are based on what the Congregation has told us through surveys, discussions, work of search committees, retreats and focus groups. What follows represents who we are as a Congregation, how we choose to respect and interact with each other as people and as Unitarian Universalists and how we choose to evolve –spiritually and intellectually.
We know that to accomplish the Society’s vision:
• We require more than dollars to achieve our vision, but dollars are important.
• We anticipate membership growth and will actively seek out and make available our spiritual home to others who want and need to hear our message and share our faith. We anticipate reaching out to the community and drawing in and welcoming people looking for a non-creedal, religious home that perhaps they did not know existed anywhere but in their imaginations.
• Program development is a critical component of our growth.
• Curricula revision for LifeSpan Religious Education is imperative.
# 1 Worship and Music
Vision: Our worship service and music fosters spiritual renewal, development, and a strong sense of community for our diverse and growing congregation. We feel challenged to grow spiritually through the exploration of many different cultures and world religions. We are comforted by the thematic congruence with our Unitarian Universalist traditions. Our worship services conducted by our ministers and music programs are thematically consistent, conducted by our ministers with a high degree of professionalism and reflect our increased diversity. Our chancel is an inspiring, comfortable, intimate, and accessible sanctuary that enhances our communal spiritual experience.
1. Develop and run a program to increase lay involvement by training members in worship theory and how to plan, conduct, and participate in worship services.
2. Incorporate more diverse forms of worship and music that broaden our experiences, reaching out to incorporate styles and content that speak to many different cultures, while retaining respect for our Unitarian Universalist traditions and the overarching spiritual purpose of the worship service.
3. Develop a long-range plan for chancel and sanctuary renovation and expansion that is consistent with the growth in our membership and the overarching spiritual purpose of the worship service.
# 2 Life Span Religious Education
Vision: The Life Span Religious Education programs of the Unitarian Society of Hartford reflect and embody our commitment to lifelong, intergenerational pursuit of spiritual learning and growth. Our curricula for children, youth, parents and adults in common reflect and honor the UU principles and heritage. Characterized by experiential learning, our curricula and programs focus on what UU’s are and may be. We apply and refine our spiritual growth, integrating the values and fruits of our learning in our worship, our life together, and in our projects within our congregation and in the larger community. Our physical plant and facilities provide adequate and suitable space to support and enhance our Life Span Religious Education programs.
1. Create and put in place a spiritual, dynamic, experiential, integrated and intergenerational program.
2. Identify, acquire and develop adequate human resources, both paid staff and volunteers, to implement the vision.
3. Accomplish the portion of the vision related to life span education-related physical plant and facilities needs.
# 3 USH Community Within
Vision: We are an inviting and inclusive community that both supports and encourages the spiritual quests of each of its members. We engender the sense of safety that encourages the risk involved in personal and organizational growth. The sharing of our individual spiritual journeys inspires us. We embrace diversity as essential to our survival and evolution. We are enriched by our growing body of members, which includes individuals of all ages, differing capabilities, economic and educational backgrounds, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities and cultures. In the spirit of equity and justice we act on our responsibility to each other and to the larger community outside the congregational membership. We build, support, and celebrate our spiritual community through joyous worship, fellowship, education, and service.
1. Establish a standard, society-wide practice of describing every existing and proposed USH activity in terms of its contribution to the spiritual growth of individual members.
2. Promote opportunities for the spiritual growth of all USH members. Encourage participation and stewardship in a process of sharing and reflecting upon individual spiritual journeys.
3. Expand the number of opportunities for adult enrichment that are designed to support the spiritual growth of participants.
4. To the fullest extent feasible, ensure that every member and every prospective member has regular personal contact with members of the USH.
5. Promote and support diversity within the membership that more closely reflects the demographic characteristics of our larger community.
6. Establish a culture of safety that fosters the airing of controversy in a constructive manner, promotes a sense of mutual responsibility to the Society and the larger community, honors the diverse contributions of Society members, and establishes covenants by which members are accountable to Unitarian Universalist principles.
# 4 The Larger Community
Vision: Consistent with our Unitarian Universalist principles of social justice and responsibility, we actively seek worldwide peace, freedom and social justice through responsible relationship with the larger community, which spans local, national and international borders. We regularly educate members on issues of social justice and encourage socially responsible action and awareness. We identify priorities, programs, and resources as a congregation. We provide and support services to the local community. We have a voice in local, national, and global policies that are of concern to our members. In order to participate meaningfully in an ever more diverse community, we embrace diversity within our congregation and within the groups with which we partner.
1. Engage in an all-congregation process to evaluate our internal structure and issues as they relate to the larger community.
2. Establish as an expectation of USH membership ongoing community service by every Society member.
3. Regularly communicate to the Society membership examples of the community service activities of individual members, emphasizing the relationship of community service to individual spiritual growth.
# 5 Administration
Vision: The administration of the Unitarian Society of Hartford is the central repository of information related to the function of the church, coordinating the business concerns of the society, as well as the activities of the various committees, religious education, and Sunday services. It is fully staffed according to guidelines set forth for church organizations. Administrative duties are facilitated by the utilization of modern technology, and the society’s website is a major vehicle of communication by the congregation and with the larger community.
1. Define and empower the role of the society administrator
2. Ensure appropriate administrative support of the congregation that is consistent with the governance structure.
3. Construct a communications system to meet the needs of the congregation
# 6 Physical Plant and Facilities
Vision: The physical structure of The Unitarian Society of Hartford is a warm, inviting place that facilitates the growth and needs of our congregation. The sanctuary enhances the worship and music services and the building permits the programs, education, and business of the society to be conducted in a comfortable and relaxed manner. The building and grounds allow for the planning and growth of the society as future opportunities arise.
Strategies and Action plans:
1. Adapt the building and grounds to accommodate the strategic vision of the society.
# 7 Denominational Connections
Vision: Our congregation is a full participant in and steward of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Both as individuals and as a society, we draw inspiration and strength from the activities and resources of the Greater Hartford Unitarian Universalist Congregations, the Clara Barton District and the UUA. We engage in local, regional and Association-wide programs. We are fair-share financial contributors to both the Clara Barton District and the UUA.
1. To participate fully in and attend to the business of the UUA.
2. Increase awareness of and participation in UUA activities on the local, regional and national levels.
3. Maintain our status as a fair share contributor to the Clara Barton District and become a fair share contributor to the UUA.
# 8 Governance
Vision: The governance of the Unitarian Society of Hartford is responsive, efficient and representative of the membership that it serves. It is organized to support and promote effective decision-making, open and efficient communication, and the smooth operation of committees and other interests that make up its diverse membership. Most importantly, it is charged with the responsibility of adopting policies and making decisions to ensure that the spiritual and social justice missions of the Society are fully supported. It fosters communication and is organized to efficiently utilize our human, physical, and financial resources. It allows our leaders to lead and is structured to support and trust their decisions.
1. Educate the congregation on governance issues and possible models, and create such a model for adoption.
2. Implement new governance structure.
# 9 Financial Considerations
Vision: We are financially equipped to support, implement and service our strategic vision
1. Build into each implementation plan a financial analysis component
2. Assess and prioritize implementation plans and funding mechanisms.