Retreating to move forward

Last weekend the Board held its annual retreat. Furman Brown and Matt Disbrow graciously hosted us at their home, and we enjoyed four hours of beautiful weather, good conversation, laughter and learning. Yes, I mean enjoyed! We got to know everyone on the church leadership team of board and staff better, and we had meaningful and heartfelt discussions about where we’re headed this year. We were ably led by Rev. Kelly Dignan, who currently serves the Greeley UU church. She brought both energy and organization to our time, keeping things on-track and upbeat.

One of the highlights of the retreat for me was working with the True Colors personality and leadership style assessment. The system is correlated with the Myers-Briggs model, and assigns each person a  color that represents their dominant personality style. It’s being used by a number of UU churches in the area (some of our staff have worked with it before). The system provides a framework for better understanding how each of us makes decisions and prioritizes, what we notice and overlook, what we’re drawn to and can’t stand. Helpful information for working in a group! Or maybe I just get into this stuff because I’m a touchy-feely Blue. At any rate, much laughter and connecting happened during our exploration, and I think we all understand each other better.

We also dug into setting our strategic priorities for the year and the Board’s role in those areas. We identified four broad areas we’ll be working on this year: building and strengthening community; abundance and stewardship; beginning implementation of the Long Range Plan; and capacity for growth, especially around Sunday services and religious education. Yes, it’s a lot to take on--and much of it involves ongoing concerns that won’t be handled in one year. We discussed at length the Board’s role in these areas. We’ll primarily be setting and clarifying policies, modeling, and asking questions and listening.

If your eyes glazed over at the words “strategic” or “policy”, I get it. Not exactly my cup of tea either! (Fortunately, we have a number of people on the Board who start hyperventilating and getting a rosy glow at those words. Be still my heart!) But as I dig into this area more, it amazes me how deeply our governance work can embody our tenet that there is a unity that makes us one. You can’t pull any single thread of the web of our priorities, policies, or processes without five other strands coming with it. That connectedness makes this work both exciting and challenging.

Overall, the group agreed that our retreat time was both “connective and effective.” We adopted this phrase as our tag-line for the year, and will be working to make all our meetings both spiritually meaningful and productive this year. We encourage other groups to do the same, and will be working with committees and ministry groups to explore how they might make that happen.

With the annual retreat under our belts, I feel like the Board is up and running for the year. I’m looking forward to Ingathering Sunday (Sept. 7), the official opening of the church year, and the UU Revival on Sept. 12. See you in church!