As we promised at that the December 18th Listening Session, the Board has reviewed the comments made at the Listening Session and other comments that have been shared with us regarding the Disruptive Behavior Policy. At our January meeting, we made revisions to the original policy and hope that you will read it on the UCN website by clicking here.
The Disruptive Behavior Policy is quite different from the Covenant of Right Relations that we began at the Mid-Winter Meeting. A Covenant of Right Relations is an agreement among all members on how we will treat each other. It reflects our highest aspirations for the beloved community that we desire and each person’s role in creating that community.
The Disruptive Behavior Policy is a process for the Board to follow if we are presented with an extreme situation involving individual behavior. These situations have arisen very infrequently, but a process needs to be in place to deal with the rare problem that may arise. There are several steps involved in the process. When confronted with such a problem, the Board will form a committee to work with the person. The committee gathers as much information as possible about the situation and meets with the individual to define the problem and work out behavioral parameters that will help guide the individual and hold him/her accountable for his/her behavior. After working with the individual, the committee makes a recommendation to the Board regarding the action to be taken. The behavioral guidelines established with the individual may be sufficient to allow the person to continue to be a full participant in church activities. In some cases, the committee may recommend that the individual be excluded from some church activities but participate in others. When an agreement cannot be reached or the behavior poses a serious risk for others, the person may be excluded from all church activities. The person remains a member of the congregation and can petition the Board at a future date to participate again. In that case, a committee would again meet with the person to develop behavioral guidelines for his/her return and make a recommendation to the Board. This process has been followed several times in the church’s history and has now been made a part of our Policies and Procedures Manual.
We all care deeply about our UCN community and aspire to be the beloved community that we envision. Thank you for everything you do for the Unitarian Church of Norfolk.
Karen Forget, President
I know that many of you have been upset by the recent discord at UCN and are concerned about our church. We are going to be okay. Disagreements and differences of opinion are inevitable and are not necessarily bad. They frequently occur at times of transition and are often the nexus of growth and needed change. We are in a period of transition at UCN and have important choices and decisions ahead of us.
It is during these times of disagreement that it is most important that we hold to our UU principles and treat each other with respect and care. We must listen thoughtfully to each other and speak our own truth honestly, directly and with compassion.
Your Board is committed to openness and communication. We want to know what you think. We plan to hold monthly listening sessions like the December 18th meeting where we can share the things we have been working on and hear your ideas, your questions, and your concerns. We will not have a session in January due to the Mid-Winter Meeting, but will resume in February.
There is a process in our by-laws for the congregation to request a congregational vote on any policy or action of the Board of Trustees. If 20% of the members of the congregation disagree with a Board action and petition the Board, a special congregational meeting will be called and members in good standing can vote on the Board policy or Board action. Our church follows a democratic model. The Board is elected by the congregation to work on behalf of all of us and members always have the right to question any action of the Board.
The Board plans to continue to tackle the tough issues and work hard to move UCN forward. We believe in this community and our potential. We believe that UCN is very important to Hampton Roads and that we have much to offer. We want to see UCN be all that it can be as a healthy, vibrant and powerful religious and spiritual community. We believe in our UU Principles and we believe in you.
Help us to move UCN forward by coming to the Mid-Winter meeting on January 21st at 3:00 P.M. We will be meeting from 3:00-5:00 and dinner will be served by the Middle School Group at 5:15. During our time together, we will be working to develop the framework for a Congregational Behavioral Covenant. We will also be voting on Cyndi Simpson’s ordination and the Congregational Study/Action Items to be considered at this year’s General Assembly.
In preparation for the meeting, I hope you will read Cyndi’s piece on ordination in the Minister’s Blog on our website and the information on the possible General Assembly items on the UUA website (half way down the page you will see “Proposed CSAI’s for 2012-2016”). Print copies of both of these can be obtained from the church office if you do not have internet access.
Thank you for everything that you do for UCN and for our community. I look forward to continuing to work with you this year.
Karen Forget, Board President
Greetings to all Members and Friends,
Your Board of Trustees has been working hard, and we are excited to share our progress with you. We are confronting some of the systemic problems that have hampered UCN over the past decade, and we’re starting the process of forming a vision (a congregation-wide endeavor) to guide us forward over the next decade.
Traditionally the UCN Board has had one retreat (a longer meeting, lasting about five hours, to dig deeper into larger issues that can’t be appropriately addressed in our monthly meetings) each year. This year we have already had two, with more to come. In addition, each member of the Board has read Moving on from Church Folly Lane: The Pastoral to Program Shift by Robert Latham. The book expertly examines the challenges frequently faced by UU congregations of our size. The problems identified match precisely with many of the issues UCN has faced and continues to face. We recommend all congregants read this interesting and insightful book. Copies will soon be available on loan from the church office.
We have agreed on six goals for the Board for the coming year:
1) Creating a Religious Mission Statement: As Reverend Latham convincingly explains, a church will stagnate unless it has a succinct, well-understood religious mission statement to guide it. The mission statement should be reworked on occasion so that the current members feel fully invested in it. We think now is the perfect time to reestablish our mission.
2) Forming a Behavioral Covenant: We are a congregation made up of kind, moral people, but we don’t always interact with each other as well as we could. Forming a behavioral covenant, steeped in UU Principles, will allow us to hold ourselves and each other accountable.
3) Communications, Plan, Procedures and Policies: The world has changed dramatically with new electronic communication (Facebook, Twitter, email, etc). We want to make appropriate use of these tools and enhance our church-wide communication systems so that information is shared accurately, quickly and respectfully.
4) Education on Size Transition: Our church has hovered in between a pastoral sized congregation and a program sized congregation for years. As outlined in Church Folly Lane, stagnating in that in-between zone for too long leads to all sorts of problems. We want to explore the causes of this stagnation with you, so we can break through this barrier and become a more powerful force for religious liberalism and social justice in Hampton Roads.
5) Analyze Our Organizational Capacity: We will examine whether we have the appropriate amount and allocation of staff and related resources to grow into the more dynamic and effective congregation we want to become.
6) Support Our Committees and Task Forces: It is vital that the Board provide support to the many groups doing important work in our congregation, especially newly-forming task forces like Dreamcatchers II, the Emergency Planning Task Force, our invigorated Membership Committee and the new Leadership Development Team.
We hope you join us after the service on Sunday, December 18th for the Board’s first Listening Session of the church year. UCN has many, many wonderful attributes already, and our potential is enormous. We are proud to serve as your Board, and are excited about the future of our congregation.