UUFSB as Threshold Congregation

In February 2011, we were chosen as one of the nine outstanding congregations of the Central East Regional Group (CERG) to participate in the new UU Threshold Congregations program.  This program was created to provide support and mentorship in achieving specific goals related to growth and hospitality, governance and social action.   
More Info: Our designated Regional Growth Development Consultant is Mark Bernstein. For more details about the program, please visit the CERG web site at www.cerguua.org.  Please continue to visit this page for regular updates. 

Update - August 2013 

The UUFSB Threshold Team sent a report in July to our CERG Consultant, Mark Bernstein. He had asked us “to share a story or two about the experiences of the Threshold Team and/or the Congregation with respect to the Threshold Congregation Program,” now in its 3rd year. (UUFSB was selected in the inaugural year.) We would like to share these reflections with the congregation. Please click here to view the report.

Update - February 2012

The Threshold Team has completed the formulation of measurable outcomes for the goals of the four growth areas.

  1. Membership - Create a culture of welcoming, engagement and belonging that permeates the entire congregation. (Team leads: Pat Killian and Lori Jones)
    Increase numbers of visitors by making Unitarian Universalism better known in our community; extend a warm welcome to newcomers and offer a clear path to membership in our fellowship; strengthen the connection of newcomers and existing members to the Fellowship; instill a culture of welcoming to newcomers and among ourselves that extends to all facets of our congregational life.
  2. Leadership Development - Create a pathway to congregational leadership; identify, motivate, and nurture leaders and provide support for their continued development. (Team leads: Linda Pfeiffer and Colleen Rudman)
    Identify, define and communicate leadership roles; replace Nominating Committee with a Leadership Development Committee with expanded, year-long responsibilities for identifying and recruiting leaders; create baseline statistics about leadership; create leadership development process; create self-assessment and feedback mechanisms for leaders; recognize leaders and good leadership.

  3. Stewardship - Achieve sustainable financial health to support and expand our ministries and to ensure our future as a congregation. (Team leads: John Robinson and Greg Galluccio)
    BUDGET: Sustain 100% of our non-programmatic (salaries, dues, mortgage, etc.) portions of the budget by Pledge/Plate Income alone; maintain capital reserve of 10% of budget; attain staff compensation at 80-100% of fair wages and benefits practices. 
    FUNDRAISING: allocate 50% of fundraising dollars to long-term goals, programming, social justice and community work; create record of guidelines and procedures to ensure fundraising is a vital part of UUFSB outreach and in-reach ministries and doesn’t burn out volunteers.
    LONG-TERM:  create asset record and ongoing facilities repair/maintenance schedule, direct funds to prepayment of mortgage, grow endowment fund.

  4. Social Justice - See the needs of the world as our own; make responding to those needs a central part of the life of our Fellowship. (Team leads: John Morris and Deb Little)
    GENERAL: Increase our congregational Social Justice by using 5% of our total budget for Social Justice activities; choose a banking institution for our funds that meets our standards; create a baseline of statistics for identifying how our members participate in social justice.
    WELCOMING CONGREGATION: establish baseline statistics on members who self-identify as LGBT; increase that population each year; support LGBT supporting organizations with our resources, identify a joint project with an LGBT advocacy group.
    GREEN SANCTUARY: UUFSB event planners report back post- event on the green practices they followed; establish baseline statistics on members who practice certain green behaviors and seek to increase that number by 10% each year; identify a joint project with environmental advocacy group.
    RACIAL/ETHNIC JUSTICE: identify an anti-racism organization with which to work in partnership; identify an advocacy/service organization to work with to build bridges between the congregation and the immigrant community; identify joint projects.

Next Steps in Communication:

  • March - Threshold Team members continue presentations at committee meetings; Committee on Ministries of the Congregation (COMC) holds series of Conversation Cafes.
  • April - Threshold Team holds open meetings at the Fellowship.
  • April/May - Threshold Team hosts online discussions.  

Update - January 2012

The Threshold Team has completed the formulation of our goals for each of the growth areas, along with specific, measurable, desired outcomes. The four goals are as follows:

  • Membership - Create a culture of welcoming, engagement and belonging that permeates the entire congregation.
  • Leadership Development - Create a pathway to congregational leadership; identify, motivate, and nurture leaders and provide support for their continued development.
  • Stewardship - Achieve sustainable financial health to support and expand our ministries and to ensure our future as a congregation.
  • Social Justice - See the needs of the world as our own; make responding to those needs a central part of the life of our Fellowship.

The next phase of our planning is spreading the word and getting the critical feedback from the congregation to confirm that these goals are truly shared and desirable. It will be the entire congregation who will determine how these plans can be implemented and whether the process will be successful. 

We began this phase with a presentation by Threshold Team member John Morris to the Council of Committee Chairs on January 26, reviewing the history of how we identified the growth areas, our acceptance into the Threshold Congregations Program, and the specific goals and outcomes that the team has come up with.  Every committee is urged to invite us to an upcoming meeting so we can discuss our plans in these smaller settings. One or two of the Team members will attend each committee meeting. These will be followed by an open forum for the entire congregation (details to come).

Update - October 2011

Our Threshold Team* is comprised of the following members, each focusing on one of our growth areas as noted:

  • Max Riley, Chair
  • Deborah Little and John Morris, Social Justice
  • Greg Gallucio and John Robinson, Stewardship
  • Pat Killian and Greg Maggio, Membership
  • Linda Pfeiffer and Colleen Rudman, Leadership Development.

In early October we met for 6 hours  over two nights together with our CERG Consultant Mark Bernstein and Rev. Margie, and we are really coming together as a team.  We (1) have formulated the goal statements for our Plan in each of these four growth areas and (2) had a group brainstorming discussion of possible strategies under each area.   Now we are drafting ideas for measurable indicators of success. We will be seeking input from the congregation on these directions very soon, including opportunities for discussion at neighborhood meetings.
 
* This is the strategic planning group for our Threshold Congregation program.

Update - April 2011

Mark Bernstein, our consultant and facilitator for the Threshold Congregation program, met for the first time with members of the Board, Rev. Margie, DRE Gretta Johnson-Sally and others on Sunday, April 17. This program aims to help us achieve specific growth goals, and Mark will work with us on our growth plan as well as provide resources and best-practices information. We have already identified four broad areas for growth: Leadership Development, Social Justice, Membership, and Financial Stewardship. We determined that our next steps, to be completed by September, are to form the Threshold Team, to add specificity to our four goals, and to develop a timeline. Mark will hold four sessions with the team throughout the summer, each dedicated to one of our growth areas.

The program will involve the whole congregation, Mark stressed, and we expect to provide opportunities for open discussion regarding strategic goals and their implications. The Board of Trustess will oversee the Threshold Team, which will act largely as a policy group and engage other members of the congregation for implementation.

A native Long Islander whose home congregation is Media PA, Mark is Director for Growth in the Joseph Priestly district, one of the three regions in CERG (Central East Regional Group). CERG, formed in July 2010 and encompasing some 200 congregations, represents the regionalism model that the UUA is now advocating. While districts remain (UUFSB is part of the Metro District), this model offers resources to be shared regionally.

The Threshold Congregation program grew out of CERG so that congregations could get more individual attention. Mark noted that the selected nine congregations had to meet certain criteria in order to be "building from strength, not scarcity." The program is aimed at achieving growth goals specific to each congregation, although many, not surprisingly, are common across congregations.

During the three-year progam, CERG expects to organize events involving several if not all of the chosen threshold congregations, geographical challenges notwithstanding.  Please visit the CERG web site to read about all of the participants.