Strategic Plan

   Below is the introduction and executive summary of the five-year strategic plan that was created by our "Dream Team" after a long process of gathering congregational input over the past several years.  The Board of Trustees has affirmed the plan, and we are thinking of it as a road map.  As with any map, there are multiple routes we could take, and we may choose to override the GPS from time to time!  The Board embraces the overall direction this map provides, but rest assured that there will be many opportunities for further congregational input along the way as we consider the many recommendations it contains.

   Scroll to the bottom of the page for a link to the full document, or you can request a hard copy from Amy in the office. It's still in draft form since we need to update the dates and tables, but will give you a fuller sense of the rationale behind the plan's recommendations.

[2011 – 2016]
“Realizing our Vision and Mission Together”
UUFLB Chalice


The Board of Trustees and the Rev. Libby Smith, through conversation about the future of UUFLB, decided a strategic plan was in order, one that would help map the next 3 to 5 years. It had been some time since we’d last had one – one that successfully led to the purchase of office/meeting space in addition to short-lived, but hopeful, full-time ministry. Plans do work. Planning opens a conversation about our identity and purpose. Why are we here? What are we called to do?

From the more practical side, the board realized to be intentional about planning would help focus our energies. Additionally, it didn’t hurt that having a strategic plan in place makes us more able to take advantage of assistance offered at the district and national levels. It shows those with the ability to help that we are willing to shoulder our share of the work.

The board asked Jim Harven, Libby Smith, Rebekah Visco, Jim Hild and Jodi Thompson to serve on the Strategic Planning Team. Once the team was identified and charged by the board, we realized it wouldn’t be as simple as drafting a plan and putting it into motion. We couldn’t do so in a vacuum; we needed input and corroboration.
As UUs we value and honor diversity, yet too wide a scope can inhibit clear vision when executing a strategic plan. Do we put our efforts into growth, into ministry, into religious education, into a building, into leadership development? How do we negotiate these seemingly disparate preferences and priorities to develop a plan that the entire congregation will support and champion?

Conversations. That was our first answer. Bring all our voices together; hear them all. Ask, listen, clarify. Repeat. Our quest was to encourage us all to speak from the heart and listen with respect. We wanted the process to build trust and mutual consideration. The process was as vital as the outcome. It, too, will chart our future.
We co-opted the insight of Holy Conversations by Gil Rendle and Alice Mann, a book that views strategic planning as spiritual practice for congregations. We adopted the wisdom of the World Café process, a simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter.

We implemented a process favored in Holy Conversations: SWOT Analysis. We surveyed the board, staff and team leaders on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats they each identified as integral to this congregation. The “Dream Team,” as the strategic planning team named ourselves, then analyzed the information gathered from the SWOT analysis and culled out commonalities.

We worked with Patricia Infante of the Joseph Priestley District on developing questions for a World Café event where the entire congregation, members and friends, were invited to delve deeply into two questions: Why are we engaged in this UU congregation? What impact are we moved to have upon the world?
The process brought about tremendous conversation and excitement, it also brought on a need for more concrete ideas. We scheduled a Conversation Sunday where tangible efforts could be cultivated and harvested. We felt the energy and focus of the congregation. The path cleared.

Diversity of thought, once imagined to crowd the pathway, now illuminated it. The seemingly disparate preferences and priorities were interconnected, overlapped and interwoven. Focus on ministry, worship, outreach, religious education, and membership would all lead to growth – in numbers and depth. A building would help facilitate our desires for outreach, worship and religious education, in addition to providing visibility. All these efforts contribute to our becoming a “porch light” – that welcoming, Welcoming, safe haven of spiritual exploration and outreach we strive to be.

Toward the end of the process, Jim Hild introduced Michael Durall’s The Almost Church: Revitalized to the team, which suggests a radical departure from typical UU fellowship life. Durall asks members to be extraordinarily generous, to focus more externally than internally, to think abundance rather than scarcity, and to answer the call of action rather than thought. The team agreed our congregation must make these changes in order to survive and prosper.

While we recognize that some members may not embrace these changes, and change won’t happen all at once, we must design a clear path that, over several years, will expect more from our membership.

With a clear, concise strategic plan for our next few years, we can focus on what matters. We can build on a solid foundation, an enlightening and enlightened future for ourselves, our neighbors and our world.

Executive Summary

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lower Bucks (UUFLB) has an established vision and mission statement as follows:

Our Vision - "UUFLB supports spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth in a diverse congregation of all ages and beliefs.  We reach out to everyone with love and acceptance to better ourselves and the world."

Our Mission - “UUFLB provides dynamic services, relevant lifespan Religious Education, and effective and focused community outreach in an atmosphere that respects the individual and supports the community at large."

The UUFLB Board of Trustees directed the formation of a strategic planning committee (the “Dream Team”) to develop a strategic plan to guide UUFLB through the next five years and help us more fully live out our vision and mission.  This plan identifies specific goals, along with the activities, approaches, and changes associated with these goals, to accomplish the Board’s directive.

We (Dream Team) have concluded our investigation and research.  It has taken us almost two years to get to where we are now.  In that time we have gathered input from our congregation via processes such as the “Dream Café”, Congregational Conversation and informal discussions.  We have researched relevant materials (see Resources Section 7) on the subject.   We have concluded that we, as a congregation, are at a crossroads.  Either we grow as a revitalized religious community or we will fade away.  The Team believes that our congregation has the opportunity to grow, but only if we change what we do and how we do it.  We need to change our culture by coming together in a common cause that truly supports the congregation's vision and mission.   We, as a congregation, need to look at changing from “What’s in it for us” to “What can we contribute?,”  realizing that the more we give the more we receive.

It is the Team’s hope that this report will do more than address the “what and how” to engage and revitalize our congregation, but will also inspire and motivate the Board to implement the intent of what the Team has provided.   In fulfillment of the Board’s directive, we have identified the following three (3) goals and the accompanying activities, approaches, and changes associated with these 3 goals, to be accomplished within the next five (5) years, as listed below:
  1. To improve our effectiveness as a congregation, in order to fully engage our congregation in our first part of our vision- "UUFLB supports spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth in a diverse congregation of all ages and beliefs”.  To achieve this goal we will:
    1. establish commonly held core values;
    2. nurture spiritual maturity – through establishing a congregational covenant, developing life-span religious education, deepening relationships, creating a welcoming congregation, and enhancing our hospitality;
    3. change the name of our congregation to a more meaningful name in keeping with the changing times; and
    4. acquire a building of our own (buy, lease or rent).
  2. To be wise stewards of our present and future resources, in order to fully engage our congregation in our last part of our vision “We reach out to everyone with love and acceptance to better ourselves and the world.”   To achieve this goal we will: 
    1. strengthen our financial base;
    2. increase our congregation's financial commitment to projects within our district, denomination and the wider community; and
    3. increase our involvement in hands-on community service, both as a congregation, and in cooperation with other community/religious organizations.
  3. To address directly our most critical issue – growth, in order to fully engage our congregation in our mission - “UUFLB provides dynamic services, relevant lifespan Religious Education, and effective and focused community outreach in an atmosphere that respects the individual and supports the community at large." To achieve this goal we will:
    1. expand and enhance our current programs to encourage fuller participation from UUFLB members and the larger community;
    2. develop and lead transformational worship;
    3. expand ministry position;
    4. increase support staffing – Administrator, Director of Religious Education, Music Director, Membership Coordinator; and
    5. build strong, healthy leadership.

Webb Master,
Sep 19, 2012, 12:00 PM