Informal description of March 10 Community Meeting


March 10 Community Meeting Discussion

Here’s a brief summary of the UCP community meeting that occurred from 1-2:30 Sunday March 10 at UCP.  There were about 15 UCP members in attendance.  The agenda was twofold:

a)      To discuss and begin to move toward an agreed upon UCP service outreach to the wider community.

b)      To experience a “talking stick” sharing with no fixed agenda. 

For the first agenda item, we divided into three discussion groups to consider the community outreach question.  Prior to the discussion each individual had chosen a word that was important to them in thinking about outreach.  Then the charge to the discussion groups was to share these words and lead into brainstorming about what kinds of outreach programs might address the criteria that the group members had written down. 

Following the small groups’ discussion time, each group shared what it had come up with.  Basically, the groups had agreed on a set of needs that a UCP community service program should meet, as follows: Friendship, community, love, connection, peace, creativity, fun, music, and empowerment.  One group discussed the idea that service teams should integrate teens with the adults, to build networked relationships within our community.  Several individuals from two groups  felt it was important to include music in whatever service projects we engaged in, although it was also quite clear that, while we have many individually talented musicians in our community, we do not have a performance group that is skilled enough to create concerts or presentations that others outside our community might appreciate and enjoy – although having sing-alongs was a possibility.  The third group had focused on other necessary characteristics of a service program, such as accountability, recognition, nurturing of volunteers, and follow-through. A part of the discussion also focused on the importance of ENJOYING whatever service we undertook, so that it would be sustainable.  We agreed that if it sounded like mainly like a lot of WORK, it probably would be hard to keep going. 

In brief, we were not able, in the time available, to specify and agree upon a single service project that we could widely endorse and join within the UCP community.  But we put some important energy into thinking about service projects and into defining the parameters that were important to us, collectively, when it came time to select a service project or projects. 

Several people spoke during the talking stick section of the meeting.  Everyone expressed gratitude for different experiences they have had with UCP. A couple of talking stick opportunities (more or less limited to 2 minutes each) were

a)      Machai shared with us her proposed bicycle trip through Europe to raise $25,000 to take to Africa and use building a school in the community in Uganda where she had previously made connections.  The school is a resource desperately needed by orphaned children there, and Machai is teaming up with a spiritual leader on site who is planning to build the school.  Machai wants to be a part of the actual building process, and she wants to document her experiences through a blog that she would post on the UCP website (this is a proposal that still needs to be approved by the Board and co-ministers.).  She also wants to be able to connect the children with different UCP members through electronic communications, similar to a “Save the Children” program of “adoption” and friendship.  She feels that this would provide a special opportunity for our members to experience cross-cultural communications and to contribute Time and Talent as well as Treasure to addressing human needs outside of our own usual sphere – potentially a growth experience for those who participate. 

b)      Rev. Rosemary asked the group to envision a beautiful refurbished deck, trail, and meditation space behind UCP in the woods – as a resource for our own members and as a service to our local community – folks in Chapel Hill and surroundings, as well as people who use the trails that start in our parking lot.  In addition, enhancing that space will increase the appeal of our site as a wedding venue that appeals to interfaith couples, older couples, and same sex couples planning union ceremonies that are spiritually meaningful and somewhat smaller than first, parent-financed weddings tend to be.  She then described how the Flower Power project will provide funding for some of the basic necessities for carrying out the “Serenity Trail” project. 

c)    Several people expressed a strong  desire to have  frequent meetings devoted entirely to the “Talking Stick”. 

Thanks to Chris Egle and Greg Louie for planning and facilitating this meeting!! 

Description submitted by Rev. Rosemary Hyde

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