In the fall of 2016, the MSC created a survey for members and friends, and distributed it in October 2016. We received 129 responses, and every single one of them was extremely helpful to the MSC in knowing what UUCCH wants in a minister. Both the survey and cottage meeting results will be shown to prospective ministers. Read our takeaways below, and please be sure to participate in the next survey once we distribute it in May 2017!
Thank you to all 129 UUCCH members and friends who took the MSC survey in October 2016. Almost a third of the participants have been with the church for at least 21 years, but those who only have been associated with the congregation for two or less years made up about 22 percent of the survey respondents. About half of respondents were in their 50s or 60s, and 98% are white. In addition, two-thirds of the survey-takers are female, 32% are male, and one respondent is transgender. In addition, about 82% of respondents identified as heterosexual, but others identified as gay/lesbian (6%), bisexual (6%), and other (6%). About 46% of participants have their Master’s degree.
Half of the survey-takers said that their affiliation with the congregation and/or UUism is a source of strength or comfort for them. The reasons for which respondents come to church was very diverse, with celebration of common values being the highest-rated reason, closely followed by intellectual stimulation, sense of belonging, and personal reflection and meditation. In addition, 55% of participants would like the minister to preach three times a month, with 33% preferring nearly every Sunday. The congregation feels that the sermon is the most important item of the Sunday worship service, with the most important sermon topic being personal growth. The most important objective for Sunday worship services is to build community, followed closely by promoting a supportive environment for developing and sharing. Respondents feel it is most important for our next minister to be a spiritual leader, then an intellectual leader. It is vital for them to present stimulating and challenging Sunday services, as well as to foster a sense of community within the church. The majority of our congregation (77%) would like to see growth in order for more people to benefit from our church and UUism in general.
Our congregation feels our strengths to be maintained/developed in the future include commitment to action, empathy and volunteerism, our Religious Education program, and a strong sense of community, almost as a family. Issues or concerns that may be pressing in the next few years include our ability to dialogue around our needs and feelings, membership – both in terms of growing and our ability to reach out to new visitors, lack of communication, misinformation regarding committees, lack of stability, and fear of change. The worst mistake a new minister could make is not listening, not learning about our church before making changes, alienating us, and being insensitive to diversity.
In the next one to two years, the congregation would like: to find a solid, dependable and strong minister, a stability of leadership, spiritual growth, improved right relations, community building, growth, and financial stability. In the next three to five years, respondents want: a community to belong to, continued growth, to become a beacon of hope in the community, more community outreach and social justice programs, a more vibrant Religious Education program, and continued love for our church community. In the next five to ten years, survey-takers would like: union around a meaningful mission, recognition as a liberal religion in the area, continued growth, and long-range planning.
In screening ministerial candidates, the congregation wants the MSC to equally consider their character, empathy, and professional competencies. For the most part, participants would be comfortable with a minister of all types, with the exception of a politically conservative minister; 88 of 129 respondents said they would be uncomfortable with a conservative minister. The congregation would like the MSC to find a good preacher who is a mentor, collaborative in worship, and is able to build cohesiveness both in the congregation and in staff.