BRIDGE BUILDING PROCESS
Kick Off Meeting Sunday January 6th at 6:30pm
Building bridges between our divisions
I reach out to you won't you reach out to me?
With all of our voices and all of our visions
Friends we could make such sweet harmony.
From Hymn #1023 in the Singing the Living Tradition, Supplement
FAQs : Before Building Bridges: from the Sunnyhill Board
1. What is the Bridgebuilder process and why are we doing it?
Anxiety and conflict exist in all systems, and of course churches are no exception. The Bridgebuilder process was created by Peter Steinke, a well-known church consultant and author of several books on church conflict. After working with hundreds of churches experiencing the effects of conflict, Steinke created a process for assisting churches in working through their anxiety and moving in the directions they want, toward health and growth. The process was recommended to our church by Rev. Joan VanBecelaere, the District Executive (DE) of the Ohio Meadville District of the UUA, after meeting with our board of trustees and staff.
The process may look familiar at first. It begins with a congregational meeting and a dialogue led by Richard Speck, the consultant we will be working with. He is the DE for the Joseph Priestley District and has been trained in conducting the Bridgebuilding Program. Interviews and written surveys are part of the process as well. However, unlike Sunnyhill's previous experience, this process is on-going and will continue to involve the congregation in meaningful and essential ways over several months. It will also include an action plan, written by members of the congregation and presented to the entire congregation for implementation.
2. Didn’t we just go through a process like this with Tom Chulak and Jean Crane? I’ve given my comments on our situation several times over the past few years. Why should I do it again
if nothing seems to change?
The issues we are grappling with have developed over time. Levels of awareness of these issues have also changed over time. At different stages, the board, the staff, and the congregation have taken various action steps in response to these issues.
The Bridgebuilding process is the next phase, a phase that will empower the congregation to identify and to address critical issues so that we can become a healthy congregation with a healthy ministry.
The BB process will build on input, comments and perceptions that have emerged at earlier stages.
These will inform the Bridge Building process at all steps.
We sincerely hope that everyone in the congregation will engage fully in the BB process in the spirit of love and hope.
3. Why shouldn’t we call a congregational meeting to vote on whether or not to retain the minister before we embark on a new process?
The board carefully considered this option. We concluded that in the long run, regardless of the outcome, such a vote taken at this time would be more disruptive to the fabric of the congregation. No matter how the vote turned out, the congregation would need to go through a healing process such as that offered through the BB program. Embarking on the BB will enable the congregation to address the question of retaining the minister, to deal with any other issues we as a congregation identify, and to begin the critical process of healing.
4. Why can’t we facilitate the BB or some other healing process amongst ourselves?
It is true that within our congregation we have talented, experienced people with strong facilitation skills. As members of the congregation, some of these people may have already developed strong feelings and opinions about our current situation, while others may not have. However, it is very likely that no one is truly perceived by all others as being completely neutral. The benefit of the BB process is that it brings in an outside neutral facilitator to act as a non-anxious presence within a very anxious congregation.
5. As a representative of the UUA, won’t the facilitator be biased toward the minister?
The facilitator is clear on his role of serving the congregation, with the goal of having a healthy congregation with a healthy ministry.
6. What will this cost Sunnyhill?
Sunnyhill’s cost for the BB program will be $1,000. All other costs, including the balance of the facilitator's fee ($2,000) and his travel and lodging expenses,will be covered by the OMD and the UUA. In addition, the OMD District Executive will be involved in this process with no cost to the congregation. This demonstrates the OMD’s and the UUA’s support of and commitment to our congregation during these difficult times.
The UUCSH Board of Trustees hopes to see ALL Sunnyhill Members and Friends at the Kick Off Meeting Sunday January 6th at 6:30 pm
Childcare will be Provided.