Board Reflection for Sunday, November 11, 2022
Karen Nowicki, UUCH Board of Trustees
Good morning, my name is Karen Nowicki and I am one of your newest board members.
Whew, it has been a few years, am I right? Life has changed dramatically in the past 999 days. Yes I checked, it has been 999 days since March 17, 2020. Can any of us remember what life was really like pre-pandemic? Can any of us remember the carefree days when a virus was just a virus and we coughed, sneezed, and breathed on each other without worrying what particles were flying through the air? As we turn the corner on the 1,000th day of this new reality what does that mean for us as people, board members and a church community? I don’t necessarily know the answer to it for everyone, but I do know, no matter how you slice it, we have been changed by this experience and we must move forward into a new era. We must see that the path forward does not mean going back to “how it used to be.” As Billy Joel says, “the good ol’ days aren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”
This new era does not mean we are recreating the “before times” but with more technology. We need to intentionally look at what was working in the past and what wasn’t. We must utilize the tools we now have at our disposal to be a source of connection and communication, not as devices for comparison and isolation.
We have learned so much from the past 999 days that it would make them meaningless if we threw those lessons out in the rush to get “back to normal”. While I wish those days were different, they aren’t and we can’t ignore them, and ignoring the messages from them would take away from the larger meaning. We shouldn’t be rushing back to normal when we have a chance to create something new and even better out of those lessons learned.
For me, the knowledge gained during these days centers around focusing on what really matters and learning to use technology for connection and communication in an effective manner as opposed to using tech as a tool that further isolates me. Over the course of the past 2 years, 8 months, and 25 days I’ve learned there are things I like to do on zoom – like board meetings or book club. We can have a fruitful and functional discussion without the struggle of leaving the house. I can shut the computer down and head straight to bed because my alarm goes off at 5:15am in order to go to work. But for me personally, worship service is more engaging, and I am more connected to the service when I am in this new sanctuary with my community. But I recognize that these might be the reverse for someone else; services are largely passive experiences that might be better enjoyed in the comfort of your pajamas, whereas meetings are more active and might feel more fulfilling in person to someone else.
As we create this new and beautiful future, your board is looking to build on the lessons learned and craft an exciting and engaging new era that meets people where they are at. As we move into this (kind of) post-pandemic phase, to breathe new life into this congregation, we must do the hard work of evaluating all the new tools we have at our disposal and how we use them. This may mean creating more opportunities for hybrid options, this may mean crafting new expectations for the next phase of our ministry, and this means church as we knew it will be different.
Church and the role of ministry is different now, even than it was a few years ago when we brought Margret on as a developmental minister. Through this developmental time we have learned a lot about our strengths and our areas of growth; we need to look at keeping that momentum going as we move into the next phase here. In the new year, your board is going to be inviting you into conversations about what engages you in UUCCH and what you feel is the future of this church. We are an amazing congregation with the capability for a lot of love and a lot of “good works” so we need a minister that will support and help us grow into that capability.
Differences aren’t bad, change isn’t terrible, but they can be difficult and scary. As we work together to reimagine our lives tomorrow, on the 1000th day since the world was pushed to change, lean into those feelings and be willing to move out of your comfort zone. If communities like this are going to survive we need to be willing to get uncomfortable at times. Don’t shut out the uncomfortable feelings and ignore them but don’t run away from them either. Engage with your board members, the minister, staff, and each other about what we’re all going through in these conversations. Some of us might be excited about what the future can bring and some of us might be scared; if we work together we can accomplish anything, remember what this sanctuary used to look like? We did this. Starting in January look for information about these conversations so we can begin thinking about the future and what the next ministry of this church is going to look like. Much like the changes we’ve made to our physical space to accommodate our vision, let us also make changes to our mental and emotional space to do the same. Thank you.