We received 193 response to the 2017 Congregational Survey. This rate of response provides us with a statistically significant sample to opine on the results, with confidence that it is representative of the entire population of our community.
As indicated by the size of our church community, we can only have two primary roles for our new minister. Our congregation overwhelmingly wants pastoral care (44%) to be the secondary responsibility (with the primary being Sunday Service). Respondents are divided in their expectation for the new minister from the perspective of pastoral care. 27% expect home or hospital visits to be the priority, 26% percent expect counseling during office hours, 21% want the minister to be a liaison to the lay caring committee, and 21% expect the minister to contact persons needing pastoral care via written or telephone communication.
26% of respondents felt that fostering community should be the minister’s secondary responsibility, and the primary focus should be interacting with the minister before and after Sunday Service (42%). Promoting Social Justice at UUCCH and in the broader community (18%) was not a high priority for many as the secondary responsibility, nor was an administrative manager (12%). For those who did have Social justice and Administrative manager as the secondary expectations, the primary expectations within those categories were acting as the liaison to lay leadership and advisor to the social justice committee respectively.
When asked what other faith traditions (aside from UU) are an important part of spirituality, overwhelmingly our community identifies Humanism (62%), as well as Buddhism (37%), Christianity (35%), Agnosticism (34%), and Atheism (29%). All other options came in under 25%, including Judaism (24%), Paganism (19%), Native American (16%), Taoism (11%), Hinduism (8%), Islam (7%), and None (4%).
We asked, “What do you think is most important for the new minister to know about our church and why?” and received 156 responses, including themes highlighted in the below responses.
- The importance of a strong leader: “We are very passionate but need leadership and encouragement to be in service and live our principles.”
- The diversity of thought and experience in our congregation: “They should know that we are very eclectic because we are.”
- Our past and our ministerial transition: ”The new minister should be aware that we have recurring problems around personality and trust issues and budget concerns. I wouldn't want a new minister to be blindsided or disillusioned when these problems start to surface; rather, I hope the new minister would welcome the chance to work with us and continue the good work started by Rev. Larry to help us build a stronger community.”
- How much we care for one another: “We are a caring community”
Our other open-ended question prompted 163 responses: “Current Vision statement adopted in May 2013: We will become a beacon of liberal-religion in southern New Jersey. We welcome questioning minds and growing spirits. We nurture civic, social and environmental justice. What do you want the future of our church to be?” Here are some of the responses which highlight themes we saw.
- The need for racially, ethnically and demographically diverse in our church: “I would like to see more diversity in our membership. As it is, we are mainly white, well-educated and liberal.” “Larger; more ethnically diverse” and “More diverse and younger”
- Embracing our vision: “A catalyst for good, resisting injustice.” “Our current vision statement speaks to me.”
- A few other comments highlight desires for a complex vision of the future and hopes for our new minister and church.
- “I want our church to do well at inspiring the growth of spirit in our members, friends, and children. Beyond improving our spiritual lives, I want us to improve our ability to make the world around us a better place. We need to draw inspiration from our Unitarian Universalist tradition, from other religious traditions, and from secular sources. We need to be inspiring others in our community to make our community a better place.”
- “We aim to be welcoming and to grow; we would like to be a vibrant place for young, old and in-between to learn, grow and worship together. We are eager to embrace a new called Minister to deepen our own understanding of ourselves and our place and responsibilities in the world, to lead us in worship and community, and to help us broaden and deepen Unitarian Universalism in southern NJ. We want our doors to be open to the community. We hope to express our love and concern through social justice outreach and concern for the environment.”
Thank you very much to everyone who took our surveys.