I'm back. I've missed you. I hope you missed me. How have things been for you the last five months? I returned on March 1 and have been running fast to keep up with all the great work our staff and volunteer leaders have done. I'm deeply grateful to them and to you for creating an organization that provides sabbaticals for your staff.
The last words I wrote to you in November were: "I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of sabbatical the UUMA has given me. The only way I know how to repay you is to come back to you refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated with ideas on how we can build a more effective UUMA and do what we can to strengthen our faith and our ministries."
How appropriate for me to come back to the e-update when we are highlighting our vision to be a healthy, effective organization. I am refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated with ideas and re-reading your comments from our survey last fall reinforced what we are working on and reminded me what we have left to do.
It's no surprise that we received the fewest comments on this vision statement. As I've been saying in chapter visits since I took this job, organization health and effectiveness aren't sexy. I'm thrilled that 84% of you think it's important to our mission and only 1.5% of you don't. With all of the programs and opportunities for learning and connection the UUMA offers, ensuring organizational health and effectiveness is my, and the staff's, most important job.
Most of you say we are doing a good job at this work. Many of you said you didn't have enough information to make an assessment; some of you wondered how we measure how we are doing and almost all of you had good things to say about the staff. We appreciate your confidence and you should know that we are continuing to do everything we can to evaluate our health and effectiveness. (The survey being an important tool.)
The three most popular issues you raised were: communications, chapter health and our website. The good news is that we are working on all three. Communications is the #1 challenge and priority of any organization. My biggest frustration in reading all your survey comments is that despite our efforts at multiple communications strategies, too many of you don't know what we offer. We continue to work with our communications advisory team, attend communications workshops and experiment with how we can do better.
One of the gifts of being able to visit all twenty UUMA chapters at least once is that I've seen their strengths, challenges and "unevenness" up close. Leadership and programming are not always excellent and issues such as geographic size, diversity of ministries and collegial commitment are some of the causes. Next month we will be convening a new Collegial Development Committee that will help develop strategies on how we strengthen collegial connections both in chapters and in other ways we gather. My dream is that a member can expect outstanding collegial life no matter where they are serving. We still have a ways to go to make that a reality.
Lastly our website. In the next few weeks you will see a change to uuma.org. An even bigger change is the launching of UUMA Connect. Our hope is that UUMA Connect will become the #1 resource for your ministry. We will be using the Fulfilling the Call handbook as the framework for offering conversations, connections, and continuing education for what you need to thrive in your ministry. Within one year we will be offering worship and other resources for your personal spiritual life.
Today (or at least last fall) 60% of you feel that uuma.org is valuable to your ministry. Our goal is to make that number at least 80% of you over the next 18 months. For us to get there we know we will need to communicate ALOT about what you can find on the website, we need to offer multiple opportunities to learn about the website and we hope you will work in your clusters and chapters to not only play with the site but give us feedback on how we can make it better.
Your elected Board of Trustees are charged to articulate the mission and vision of for the UUMA. Our jobs are to do everything we can, using all the human and financial resources available to us, to put the systems, processes and programs we can to make the mission and vision a reality. Don't forget that we need your help and ideas to make that come true.
Don Southworth UUMA Executive Director