Leap of Faith
What is Leap of Faith?
Leap of Faith is a congregational mentoring program introduced by the UUA at General Assembly in 2011 and expanded to the Pacific Western Region for 2013-14. Mission Peak has the honor of being one of 7 congregations in the Pacific Western Region of the US invited to participate.
We were invited because the district staff saw that we were healthy, vital, and stable, and aspired to become something more. We were matched with our mentor, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder CO, by crossing district borders (we are in the Pacific Central District, Boulder is in the Mountain District) and because Boulder is ahead of us on the growth/maturity path. Below is a chronology of events:
Jeremy learned we were chosen, and the Board voted to support this at its January meeting, appropriating $2500 from the Special Fund to support participation costs (principally travel expenses for the Leap of Faith team to attend the August training in Sacramento).
A Jan. 27 informational meeting was held and a Feb. 17 Congregational Meeting approved our participation and the budget change. By April the Leap of Faith travel team was in place: Jeremy Nickel, Barbara Meyers, Melissa Holmes, Doug Rodgers, and Marylin Wakefield. Drew Wilson and Pat Rodgers expressed interest and support and agreed to travel with them, paying their own expenses. Board President Kathy Wallcave also agreed to attend meetings.
Leap of Faith Training in Sacramento
August 21-23, the Leap of Faith team met with the other participating churches Sacramento to receive training and to meet representatives from our mentoring congregation.
Together with our Boulder mentors, we articulated the following goals for Mission Peak:
- 1. Be more visible and engaged with the larger community.
- 2. Create a governance structure that is accountable to the Board.
- 3. Learn how to conduct mindful meetings.
- 4. Develop an effective path to membership; practice radical hospitality.
- 5. Develop a strategic plan for future years.
- 6. Reorganize our worship space.
- 7. Evaluate and revise our staffing to fulfill the above goals
FYI, The other mentoring-aspiring pairings are:
- First UC, Portland OR with Jefferson UC, Golden CO
- First UC, Denver CO with Valley UUC, Chandler AZ
- FUC, San Jose CA with UUF Northern Nevada, Reno NV
- UUC, Ventura CA with Saltwater UUC, Des Moines WA
- FUC, Rancho Palos Verdes CA with Prairie UUC, Parker CO
- First UUC, San Diego CA with UUC, Spokane WA
Fresh back from August’s training in Sacramento, the Leap of Faith team began meeting to prioritize the goals identified in August and plan the “One Big Thing” that would help us to become more visible and engaged with the larger community. In the next months, several phone calls with Rev. Howell Lind of UUC Boulder helped guide us further on this goal. To help communicate with the congregation:
- Leap of Faith ribbons are distributed to participants who attend Leap of Faith activities.
- Pulpitorials were scheduled.
- Becket Gladney designed our eye-catching logo, a red high-top sneaker, to identify our publicity in Week on the Peak emails, newsletter, and the banner on display in Cole Hall.
By October, Leap of Faith team meetings narrowed down suggestions for the One Big Thing to be environmental, to choose an activity that would run for one year as a pilot project. Because many of our members are already involved with LEAF (Local Ecology and Agriculture Fremont), this seemed the easiest path. The criteria for choosing the path were:
- Involves many members and their skills
- Includes kids
- Directly helps the community
- Lets us develop activities not already being done
- Allows us to partner with existing organizations
- Is fun and helps build community
On October 27, the congregation informally agreed to team with LEAF for our pilot project.
On October 17, a space expert worked with our aesthetics people to help us reorganize our worship space.
Also in October, the need for a Volunteer Coordinator to guide the project became apparent and a budget was developed.
November 22-24, 2013
Rev. Howell visited from Boulder, met with the Board, the Program Council, and other Mission Peak groups, and gave the Sunday sermon. The Leap of Faith banner was first displayed, and a duplicate given to Howell for the Boulder congregation.
December 8, 2013
The Congregation approved the hiring of an Outreach Coordinator and a budget of $50K ($25K salary, $20K project expenses, and $5K Leap of Faith expenses) paid for from the Special Fund.
In early December, LEAF members helped the Leap of Faith team hammer out a job description for the Outreach Coordinator.
January 10-12, 2014
The Leap of Faith Team (Melissa Holmes, Barbara Meyers, Jeremy Nickel, Doug & Pat Rodgers, and Drew Wilson) traveled to Boulder CO to observe how they do “church”. Since returning to CA, they have met to identify technical (easy to make, involving known solutions) and adaptive (harder to make, involving cultural shifts) changes that Mission Peak may want to consider adopting.
It’s too early at this time to list which changes will be pursued first and which will take more time. Nonetheless, we are continuing our support for the 2014 garden project.
January 30, 2014 – Please meet the Outreach Coordinator we have hired to work with our volunteer Steering Committee to guide us through the initial design and implementation of the garden:
February 19, 2014 – First Stone Garden Work Party on Sunday, February 23, 2014
Your first chance to work in the new Stone Garden was Sunday, Feb 23. We worked from 12 to 2 pm at the site to clear the area and take down some of the weeds that are beginning to grow from the recent rain.
Leaf has taken over coordinating the Stone Garden Project. More information can be found here.