Striving for Excellence at UU Miami – One Service at a Time

One of the major intentions that we made as a congregation stemming from our series of town hall meetings last spring and summer was the commitment to strive for excellence in our Sunday services. We recognized that, to become the welcoming and thriving congregation that we seek to be, that we must strive for excellence one Sunday at a time. Excellence in every aspect – in theme and message delivery, in music, in our readings, service visuals, in coordination and facilitation, in flowers, welcome and even hospitality. Over the past weeks and months, we can applaud the efforts of our consulting ministers and Worship Committee. They have delivered week in and week out, providing us an abundant array of sermon themes and worship experience that speaks to our Spirits, celebrates our faith, and inspires us to action in the world.

One service in early October was particularly indicative of the progress we’ve made. Our Religious Exploration director and Rev. Audrey facilitated a very special Coming of Age program where both children/youth and their parents pledged a “give-away” to each other, a testament to their trust and commitment to strengthening their family bond. Next, as part of the New Member Celebration, we welcomed the first cohort of new members to join our faith family since we implemented the new streamlined Pathway to Membership process. What a joy to hear from each of our six new members who shared briefly their reasons for joining our faith home. The service theme that day seemed especially moving, the music soaring and the hospitality afterwards particularly warm and welcoming.

Yes, an excellent Sunday service and, as the Rev. Jesse Jackson would remind us – Keep the pressure on!

We are moving and growing, shifting the congregational culture. In November, at our Pathway to Membership orientation (third Sunday each month), we expect to welcome the next cohort of new members. This growth is the outcome targeted by our Reach Out & Grow campaign.

Yet we are not intent on growth for growth sake; this is not simply a question of numbers. As UUA President Peter Morales points out in his article “Our Historic Opportunity” (from Turning Point: Essays on a New Unitarian Universalism, edited by Rev. Dr. Fredric Muir), we are intent on growth because we have a message to share and a bigger role to play. Our liberal religious message is more pertinent and relative today than ever. Simply track the pulse of the nation through the current political campaign to know how critical our message and role are.

In late August, the Board convened for a retreat to seed ideas and, in its role as leader body for the congregation, to begin to reimagine how to guide us to become more contemporary and more relevant to our local community. Our facilitator for the retreat challenged each of us to generate a BHAG and then to generate one collectively. A BHAG? Ah yes, a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.”

It was fascinating to see how quickly we synced our ideas to generate a cohesive (and truly audacious!) goal: To become the hub of liberal and progressive “faith-e-ist” thought in Miami/Florida by growing our people and impact across generations and ministry.

Part of this new goal to become the “hub” means that our congregation welcomes groups to more frequently utilize our fabulous facilities outside of Sunday mornings. You can see this happening – and we extend a special “thank you” to our sexton Steve Snyder and his support Roberto for taking good care of our space. We are moving soon to make new improvements to the facility and grounds.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, we will host the SE Cluster meeting at UU Miami. Don’t miss this opportunity to join UUs from around the Southeast and expand your understanding of our faith through workshops – “Care and Feeding of a Congregation,” “Worship That Works,” Bringing People to Music,” “Growing RE” – and to hear from keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Muir (mentioned above). Dr. Muir will also be our guest speaker the following. Take advantage of the early discount and register today for this exciting day-long Cluster session.

Following service on Sunday, Oct. 30, your T-Team (Transformation!) welcomes you to another Town Hall. We will begin our assessment of the current worship and minister formula, gauging your preferences and deepening our commitment to excellence. Everyone is welcome!

We are striving for excellence one Sunday at a time and we encourage you to share your energy and talent through action by joining the Social Justice Committee, becoming part of the exciting Leadership Development Council, Herrschaft or other congregational committee. If everyone puts their shoulder in, we will surely move this congregation forward.

As always, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

In faith & service,           Michael Malone, president UU Miami