MUUC’s “Next-Steps” Process

December 2023

Over the past six weeks (November thru mid-December), the church’s current Next Steps teams have been busy continuing to work with consultant Liz Coit and various church committees to act on recommendations included in last year’s Next Steps and Learning Teams reports. Several teams have also started the hard work needed to create an 18-month Action Plan of activities and projects planned for January 2024 through June 2025. Here is a brief update on what they have recently worked on and accomplished:

Team 1 – Programs: The Next Steps Core Team attends monthly Committee Council meetings to track what the Fellowship, RE, and Worship committees are doing in response to recommendations included in last June’s Learning Teams Report. We will now also begin tracking the activities of the two new Ministry Teams. A number of exciting new programs are being offered, including: 

  • In response to the recommendation “Offer more Fellowship & social events on a regular basis,” Fellowship has continued to offer social events on the First Saturday of the month, with a Game Night in November and Cookies & Caroling in December.
  • In response to the recommendation “Expand the RE program into a Life Span / Family Ministry model including Adult Enrichment,” RE’s Covenant Groups have continued in November and December along with the discussions on Spirituality & Dying with Rev. Jay Libby.
  • In response to the recommendation “Think outside of Sunday morning for services and programs,” the Worship Committee and staff have planned a special Winter Solstice service for Thursday evening, December 21st. Come and enjoy this special service and stay afterwards for some holiday refreshments.
  • In response to the recommendation “Provide vibrant worship that serves a variety of beliefs, generational groups, and cultural backgrounds,” Rev. Susanne, the Worship Committee and a small team of volunteers have morphed our monthly intergenerational service into Brunch Church and Fun Church. The service starts in the Sanctuary and then moves into the Parlor and Supper Room for themed hands-on activities, refreshments, and fellowship. 

There are more events coming, so be sure to check the Mid-Week Update for news and come join us for something new and different.

Team 2 – Governance: this team has done amazing work in recent weeks on crafting a Vision and Mission for the Next Steps program that builds on the church’s current Vision and Mission statements while refining them to better guide us into the future. The Board spent a good portion of its November meeting working on this and hopes to complete working on it this month. The goal is that after the first of the year, it will be ready to share with staff, the Council, and the congregation so stay tuned! 

Team 3 – Finance: this team of representatives from the Finance Committee and the Trustees of the Endowment are working on a multi-year Financial Stability Plan: what income streams can we count on? What will our expenses be to support the many new programs we want to initiate in response to the Next Steps recommendations?

Team 4 – Property: this team is working with the Property Committee to figure out how best to manage our beloved but aging facility to meet our current and future needs. Can we continue to depend on volunteers to oversee much of the work? Should we consider hiring a person or company to manage the property for us? If so, how will that impact the church’s annual operating budget? The team has researched how a number of local churches are managing these issues. The team also took a field trip to the Haverhill UU Church to learn firsthand how they successfully remodeled their church in similar ways to what we may need.

As you can see, there is a lot of work taking place to move our Next Steps journey forward, and the results we are seeing from this work are of extremely high quality. We’re a little behind schedule to complete an 18-month Action Plan by December as we had hoped. We now expect to have a first draft by this spring.  

We will continue to share our progress with you in the coming months. If you have a question or want additional information about this fall’s Next Steps work, please contact a member of the Next Steps Core Team.

Next Steps Core Team: Co-leaders: Gretchen L. and Cathy S., Jennie W., Liz F., Rev. Susanne

*the final report is accessible in the Members-only section of the website under “Next Steps Process”. If you have any questions about how to access the members only section of the website please contact office@melroseuu.org.