This is my response to the second and third open-ended questions in the survey provided by my congregation's Ministerial Search Committee. The first response and the background behind these survey questions can be found here.
What are the main things you would like the congregation to accomplish or get involved in within the next three to five years?
We should strive to be an inclusive congregation that is intentionally willing to struggle to dismantle legal and social barriers to equal association, act with integrity, and honor the many gifts that each of us brings to All Souls.
What current church problems/issues concern you? What problems/issues are likely to be pressing in five years?
Lack of Congregational Commitment to Anti-Oppression Work such as Anti-Racism programs like “Journey Towards Wholeness” and the “Welcoming Congregation” program that explores homophobia and heterosexism - From my experience in other UU settings in our district and elsewhere, we need to start on something easier like “Welcoming Congregation” before we attempt the more difficult anti-racism work. If we cannot find the spiritual strength to explore personal, cultural, and institutional biases towards BGLT folks, then I don’t think we have the strength to explore personal, cultural, and institutional biases towards people of color.
Demographic Changes That Affect Both Denominational and Congregational Growth – For our denomination and our congregation, the increase in RE enrollment associated with the “Baby Boom” generation becoming parents is already going away. If we are viewing RE as the “engine” that drives congregational growth while families with children are a declining demographic group, this may not work for us. This is also compounded by the fact that we are an aging community. Our children want to move away when they grow up. This may be another reason for us to be more like “San Francisco” or “Boston” and less like “Shreveport” as a congregation. We won’t attract young liberal families to our congregation and its RE program if we act theologically conservative and retreat from UU social justice work.
How Do We Promote Ourselves When Being “Unchurched” Is Socially Acceptable Even in the “Bible Belt? – Prior to the 1960s and 1970s, there was a cultural expectation that one must be at church on Sunday mornings. This 1950s expectation died with the “Baby Boomer” generation and is not true today.
We can’t just say that we’re a “liberal alternative to Broadmoor Baptist” when sleeping in, golfing, etc are also acceptable Sunday Morning alternatives even in Shreveport.