Feb. 2 Minister Moment

Have you ever considered “being responsible” as a spiritual practice? Marge Piercy says: “… the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.” (To Be of Use, reading 567)

This Sunday morning the Racial Justice Task Force will be presenting a wonderful service: The Promise & Practice of Our Faith. I’ve been attending their planning meetings and it is powerful. I heard the choir rehearsing with steel pan drum, and it will sound fantastic! Please come with an open heart and mind. 

This is my Sunday away. I shifted it to accommodate our congregational Stewardship Campaign which begins later this month.  I will be in Newport News next Sunday — Rev. Millard and I exchange pulpits in our annual “Pulpit Swap Sunday.”  Come hear him preach on fences!

I will be in town, making some pastoral care calls, and committee meetings, and I do hope to see you tonight at Fabulous First Friday. Spaghetti and community at 6 PM. And then the following Friday, February 9, is the Employee Appreciation Potluck … a chance for you-all to say thank you to the staff. Note that the staff isn’t organizing their own party … You are needed. Sign up this Sunday for tasks or e-mail Rob Curran (see below.) 

It being Ground Hog Day, it is appropriate to revisit an earlier topic “The RASCI Model”  a way of organizing teams. A team is a group that gets things done, rather than, say, an evaluation panel or committee (though these can act as teams.)

RASCI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consult and Inform  — five roles needed for effective volunteer work.  I’ve sometimes referred to each word by letter, as in “Who is the ‘R’ in this project?”  It is a way of providing role clarity and keeping a task moving forward.

Tasks need definition, and the Responsible has to make sure the goals of the task are clear to the team, and with the person they are Accountable to. The A may specify outcomes to achieve, and the idea may originate with the R or a group.  Still, having someone to be accountable-to means the task is part of a larger whole. The R and A agree on timetables and how to stay in touch.  Having one person as R means the A knows where the “buck stops.” One-on-one conversations mean that decisions can be made quickly and directly.

If we are thinking of working a task as a spiritual practice – why not share it with others?  The Support persons get the work done.  As Marge Piercy writes: “I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest in a row..” The S people follow direction of the R, and, if we are all working together for courageous spiritual growth, the R makes sure the work is collaborative and satisfying to all.

Some tasks need outside help, and that’s where Consultants come in. The C is not part of the work, but might tell the R how to put an announcement onto the website, or where to buy party hats. The last part of this model is the “I” and they are Informed of the result.  This often means the Office Manager or the Treasurer if the task involved collecting, spending or raising money. It often involves the Accountable person, who might be coordinating that task with another. And it might involve another team. For example, recently a team making a brochure for the Membership Committee’s welcoming team “informed them” with the finished brochure: “A Spiritual Home for Our Military.”

Our NEST week work was a good example. Each leader (R) had authority and clear tasks. They had helpers on the team (S) and reported back to Anne Odell and our overall leaders (A), also consulting (C) with them, and Buildings and Grounds, Susie, etc. The outcome was reported Information to the city, to the larger NEST organization and to the congregation (all I’s.)

There are a few things to notice in this model. First, there is only one R. If a task is defined, others should not come in and do it first, or fix it.  If you have a serious concern, talk with the A. The lines of Accountability should be clear. For example, Matt Griset, Brian Brennan, Susie Gullixson and Tracy Brune are accountable to me as head of staff, but each is responsible for their own work.  Paul Greggs and Selene Spelts are accountable to Dr. Brennan, and also each as their own Responsibility. The development of supporting groups, such as the Religious Education Committee, the Lay Pastoral Associates, the Choir and Choral Groups work with staff in the tasks of Beloved Community.  

The highest accountability is to our mission:  “Our congregation provides a nurturing community, fosters courageous spiritual growth, and inspires compassionate action.” All we do is the work of personal transformation. As Marge Piercy wrote:  “I want to be with people… who are not parlor generals and field deserters but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out.”  This is my vision for CVUU.  Clear responsibility and clear accountability and teamwork on common goals.

Even in a time of upheaval, Dorothy Day’s words remind us “No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless.  There’s too much work to do.”  (reading 560)

If you were part of the NEST team, ask yourself: “Was that a spiritual practice?”

With love,

Rev. Charlie