First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church

Visioning Workshop Process Summary

Several members of our church family have expressed interest in more detailed reporting from our visioning process. I'm pasting a summary of this effort below. The summary will also run in the Courier, be available at church in hard copy, and be posted on the Facebook group and on the members' login portion of the website. Thanks for all of your participation and input!

First Jefferson Visioning, 2014-15: An Evolving Process

Who are we? What transcendent values unite us? What will be our legacy? Over the course of several months, First Jefferson UU Church underwent an ambitious process to answer these questions. Our end goal was a new vision statement- a vision that would speak to our collective journey and illuminate the way forward.


In Spring 2014, the congregation voted to stay in our current building, and to re-commit to our future as a church. The FJ Board then expressed its intention to plan strategically for the future. Several church members who had undergone leadership training at the UUA Regional level formed a task force to begin work on a new vision and strategic plan for the church.

As Task Force members clarified in a meeting with the Rev. Susan Smith from the UUA Southern Region, our vision is the horizon to which we set our collective sights. Our strategic plan is a 5-year increment on the road that we travel to get there. The vision is therefore the first step.

At the November congregational meeting, the Task Force chair announced a timeline for the visioning process, beginning with a congregation-wide Visioning Workshop on January 24, 2015. In December 2014, the Visioning Task Force chair met with the church council to inform them of the upcoming process, and encourage sharing with their committees.

Visioning Workshop and Cottage Meetings

The Visioning Task Force, with Board approval, hired Marguerite Mills, a facilitator recommended by the UUA Southern Region, to lead an all-day Visioning Workshop on Saturday, January 24, 2015.  The Task Force mailed postcard invitations in the beginning of January, and also publicized the workshop via the church Facebook and Yahoo groups, weekly emails, a special congregational email, and the FJ Courier.  The Task Force determined that two cottage meetings would be held in February, for those unable to attend the workshop.

Twenty-seven congregation members and friends attended the Jan. 24 workshop, where they explored their own experiences of the transcendent and developed a list of transcendent values to form the foundation of a new congregational vision. From this work emerged four key words to underlay the vision: Hope, Joy, Awe and Connection.

Though the Task Force had initially expected the workshop to end with a new draft vision statement, it became clear that this work was not yet accomplished. Two cottage meetings, which had been advertised as make-up sessions, evolved into opportunities to build on the foundation laid on January 24. These sessions were publicized as being open to all members and friends, including those who had already attended the workshop. The task force elected to add a third meeting on February 22, as a way to continue the process and gather more input.

On February 1, 8, and 22, congregation members and friends attended cottage meetings designed to build on the workshop. Attendees of these meetings explored the notion of transcendent values and shared their personal visions for the congregation in the next 50 years, as they related to the four key words. A total of 7 members and friends attended the meeting on February 1, while total of 19 and 21 people attended the meetings on February 8 and 22, respectively. The Committee on Ministries also offered input, at a session led by Rev. Jennifer Innis. Taken together, a total of 52 individuals participated in one or more of the visioning sessions. This number included youth participants, new and experienced members, and members and friends from various age groups, church committees and demographic backgrounds.

Presentation and Adoption of New Vision

Members of the Visioning Task Force will work together over the next few weeks to integrate all contributions into a new vision statement for First Jefferson. They will present this vision to the congregation on Sunday, March 15. On Sunday, March 22, concurrent with the kickoff lunch for this year's budget drive, members and friends will have the opportunity to share thoughts about their experience of First Jefferson. A special congregational meeting to adopt the new vision will take place on Sunday, March 29.

The new vision adopted at this meeting will then form the basis for a new round of strategic planning, coordinated by a strategic planning task force.  All church committees will be asked to participate, and the task force will again seek input from all congregation members and friends.

Information and Notes

Notes from the January Visioning Workshop and each of the February cottage meetings are available on the church website (members' login portion), and in a binder available at the church. Notes from each meeting of the Visioning Task Force, September through February, are also available upon request from the Visioning Task Force secretary. Questions may be directed to any of the following Visioning Task Force members: Tina Harmuth (chair), Sheryl Abrahams (secretary), Charlotte Bailey, Roy Brake, Jean Bruttell, Irene Forrester, Rev. Jennifer Innis, Lewis Morris and Michael Zepeda.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 October 2017 13:24

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