RE Update

When I talk to colleagues in surrounding communities, I know there are congregations that are beginning to fall apart rapidly and seeing decline in membership so significant that they are considering mergers with other congregations or dissolution. There are congregations that cannot afford clergy and staff or their physical plant let alone the costs of meaningful experiences and a variety of programs. While it does go against everything I believe in, when we compare ourselves to other congregations we are weathering decline well and each one of us should be proud of our contributions. (And, I am not just talking about financial contributions either!)

If you ask anyone on our Member Services Committee, you would know that I am not a numbers guy. Indeed, I cannot count the number of times that any one of those Member Services Committee members have heard me say “Sunday morning is not an accurate view of our membership” or “Our community extends beyond the boundaries of Sunday morning.” Generally, I try to avoid conversations about numbers because I find people look longingly to the past. Frequently, I heard people say “Well, you say we’re doing great in terms of membership but the numbers we have now are in stark contrast with the numbers we have had historically.”

One rule I like to follow is: “Don’t count heads.” However, I am going to break it just this once in favor of celebrating some of our wins.

We currently have 13 Coming of Age (8th and 9th grade) youth and, for each of those youth, we have 13 mentors as well as two volunteer coordinators. That means we have 28 people involved in a ministry that gives life and direction to a young person on their spiritual journey.

On February 12th, a majority of those youth and the adults that love them gathered to assemble lasagnas.

We could not have done it without the mentors who helped ensure the safety of our youth and managed logistics leading up to the 12th and, after, the 16th. (A big thank you to Melissa Kogut, Meg Holland, RoseAnn Murray, Barbara Niles, and Julia Wolfe for helping me plan and execute this exciting experience for our youth and setting us up for success when we do it again next year!)


Many of these same Coming of Age Youth are in our OWL program – which includes youth from the local community and 3 from the First Parish in Needham (UU). Needham did not have enough youth to make an OWL program successful so they sent their youth to us. I am in conversation with 6 Newton congregations (that are UCC) that would like to send their youth to our OWL program in future years. It looks like we could become the Newton OWL Hub!

Next time, I will update you on what our 6th and 7th grade youth are up to in Building Bridges!