Several people asked me to share my presentation at our annual meeting on May 20, 2018. My remarks follow:
This has been a very good year for UUCR!
Forty-three people have joined our church this year – in total, since I became your minister, we have added 90 new members. We’ve had the greatest growth of any Unitarian Universalist church in Northern Virginia, and today, we have 230 members, more than you have had in 17 years. This is a 35% net growth in two years! Our monthly Sunday attendance averages 158. We are averaging about 140 adults a service, still about 20 short of what would we need to move to 2 services. Our congregation is growing more diverse; we have many more younger families and LGBTQ people than we had two years ago. Our overall budget now surpasses half a million dollars, twenty percent more than it was in 2016.
Our religious education program has grown and thrived this year. Thirty-seven children have attended our religious education classes at least twice a month this year, up from last year’s 23 children. We have held monthly family get togethers – 30+ people and their children gathered at last week’s campfire sing along. We are very excited that we have at least 12 children signed up for our very first Peace Camp, sponsored with Beloved Yoga, as an alternative to traditional Summer Bible Study Camp.
Our music program is thriving, with more than 50 people involved in our choirs, band, quintet, hand bells, and special events. The Music Gala was fantastic!
We have begun to make some important changes in the planning and operation of the church. With so many people’s input, we finalized the Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2018, and the Leadership Council used its goals to track our activities this year and our planning for our next church year. At the board’s request, the UUA Regional office has just completed an assessment our constitution and governing policies with many recommendations for us to consider about how we transition as we grow from a pastoral size to a program model church.
I continue to be awed by your generosity. We have already received 90% of your pledges for this year at 84% of the year– and the stewardship committee raised 99% of the goal that was set. You have raised and donated almost $56,000 so far this year to charities and organizations – more than 10% of our total budget.
I want to take a minute to tell you about the first Reston Pride festival that we created this year. What first started as my question, “where are the queer people in Reston?”, and then, “why is there no Pride in Reston?”, has ended up in a festival sponsored by 19 other organizations in Reston, including the YMCA and Cornerstones, and close to 40 exhibitors. We are getting our first press coverage of the event, NBC has told us they plan to film the actual event, and in this past week, Fairfax County and Starbucks have called us to see how they can participate. People are learning about UUCR and our commitment to full inclusion and social justice in a whole new way. (Annie will tell you more about the other amazing social justice and social action work you’ve been doing.)
None of this could have happened without you, our amazing members and volunteers. I’m so glad we could celebrate the more than 165 of you who volunteered for UUCR in some way this year. We are also blessed with a wonderfully talented and dedicated staff – Beth DiPasquale, Nichole Hodges-Abbasi, Scot Hull, Maggie Mack, Michelle Michlik, Anjum Ghaznavi, Tamineh Dadgar, and Gayathri Tillekeratne. I am blessed to work with this team.
This week is the 15th anniversary of my ordination as a Unitarian Universalist minister. I am so happy that my call to ministry has led me to Reston and I look forward to many years ahead!