The congregational survey was completed by a self-selecting group of 160 members and friends in September of 2016. Out of our total membership of 208, 119 members, or 57%, completed the survey.
Demographics. We are a well-educated congregation. Over 70% of those surveyed are college graduates, with 51% holding advanced degrees. We are energetic but mature; 63% of those surveyed are 65 or older. The majority of survey respondents are white (91%) and female (64%). Only 13% have children under 18 living at home.
Membership. We are a rapidly growing congregation. 62% of those surveyed have been attending UUFCO for 5 years or less.
Involvement. The survey indicates that our members and friends are active participants and offer financial support to UUFCO. In the past year, 65% of those surveyed attended at least one social event. Forty-two percent indicated they had served on the board or a committee; likewise 42% indicated they had volunteered for Sunday services. Seventy-four percent of respondents made an annual pledge and 87% donated through the collection basket.
What we value. We are a congregation that particularly values spiritual exploration, caring, and social action. Respondents indicated that the spirituality of Sunday services is the most important aspect of the UUFCO experience (77%), followed by caring for others (64%) and social action (60%). Sharing and social activities (57%), the spirituality of children’s RE programs (57%), and congregational involvement (55%) are also considered very important. Only 15% of those surveyed ranked creative activities outside Sunday services as very important.
What we do well. Survey respondents indicate that UUFCO does very well with sharing and social activities (65%) and Sunday services (61%), followed by congregational involvement (49%) and spiritual experiences in small groups and classes (41%). Only 22% of respondents indicated that we do very well with social action and 25% with caring activities. Family and youth activities ranked the lowest, with only 11% rating this as an area in which we do very well.
What is missing? Twenty-five percent of survey participants indicated that nothing is missing from their congregational experience at UUFCO. The areas most frequently mentioned as needing more emphasis are a greater presence in the community (40%) and diversity (30%).
Theological viewpoints. Our congregation holds an eclectic range of theological views. Survey respondents were invited to select all the theological perspectives that applied to them. Many find the sacred through personal spiritual inquiry (74%), and 50% identify with spiritual inquiry that celebrates nature and the circle of life. Forty-five percent of respondents believe that a function of religion is to encourage the development of ethical values and skills. As our congregation has grown, there has been a slight shift in from humanistic beliefs to more emphasis on spirituality.
Most important functions of a minister. Preaching and worship services were ranked as very important by 89% of survey respondents, followed by intellectual leadership (73%), pastoral care (70%), and spiritual advising (65%). Fifty percent also ranked leadership in the community as very important.
Qualities of a settled minister. Of the 160 members and friends who completed the Congregational Survey, 129 also responded to a question asking them to describe the qualities they would like to see in a settled minister. We received 22 pages of insightful, thoughtful comments from our congregants. From this rich array of comments, we include here the more common themes. The comments appear in the general order of how many times a particular theme was mentioned, with the most prevalent themes appearing first.
Q: In your own words, what qualities would you like to see in our next minister?
Spiritual depth; inspiring; intellectual depth; with an engaging & inspiring pulpit presence. A stimulating speaker who provokes thought and inspires us with real world messages and stories we can take with us out into the world. Fully “present” with the congregation; speaks from the heart at the pulpit. Enthusiasm and passion in the pulpit. Genuinely collaborative. Compassionate; empathetic; caring. Someone who genuinely loves to work with others in a shared capacity. Empowers and encourages lay leaders. Sense of humor and fun; a deep listener; emotional intelligence and maturity. Open; inspires and connects with the congregation through the power of personal “story." Warm and approachable; humble; “heart-centered,” with an open heart. Fully engaged; inner wisdom. Loving; authentic; genuine. Someone who is trustworthy, with integrity. Confident enough to be willing to be vulnerable.
Has done inner work and is introspective. Kind. An effective manager; respectful of lay leadership; a team player, with strong communication skills. Approachable. Interested in pastoral care. Comfortable with who they are; relationship oriented; community impactful. Emotionally aware. Flexible. The ability to inspire reverence, reflection, gratitude, and joy. Creative. Down-to-earth; spiritually grounded; supports spiritual growth; messages that are primarily spiritual rather than intellectual. Supportive of social justice directions without necessarily being "out there" constantly as our spokesperson. Visible presence in the community. Knowledgeable and informed through diverse sources. Interested in staying here for the long term.