Welcome Letters

FROM OUR MINISTERIAL SEARCH COMMITTEE

It is our pleasure to introduce you to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon (UUFCO). Enclosed is our Congregational Packet. We hope you will take the time to learn more about us.

 
Photo of Ministerial Search Committee: Vernon, Chad, Marean, Noreen, Robin, Tom, Judy
 

Although UUFCO has been in the Central Oregon community for 58 years, we are in many ways a new congregation. We have just moved into a new beautiful, award winning church; 62% of our members have been with our fellowship for less than 5 years. In many ways, this is a new beginning and we are excited about the possibilities before us.

We were a lay-led fellowship in a rural Oregon community for the first 45 years of our existence. That model served us well as we developed a strong, independent spirit that is still a part of our congregational identity.

Our pastoral journey began in 2004 when we hired a very part-time consulting minister, Rev. Jeanne Pupke. Our first full-time, called minister was Rev. Heather Starr (2006-12), followed by an interim minister, Rev. Alex Holt (2012-14). Our current developmental minister, Rev. Antonia Won, has helped guide us through the move to our new home and the organizational and program needs that have come with our dramatic growth in membership.

In many ways this is just the beginning. Central Oregon, and the Bend community in particular, is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. Oregon State University has just opened a four-year branch campus and people are flocking to the region to enjoy its natural beauty, recreation opportunities, and craft beer. The transformation of a once conservative, and relatively isolated rural Oregon town into a dynamic regional population center brings both challenges and possibilities. In the same spirit in which our congregation was founded 58 years ago, we see ourselves as making important contributions to the liberal religious fabric and greater good of our growing community.

We have made a concerted effort to create an accurate portrait of our growing and energetic congregation and to articulate the qualities we seek in a minister. I invite you to take a closer look at who we are and what we aspire to be. Our goal is to call a new settled minister by late spring and have the minister in place by August 15, 2017.

Our congregation is excited about the possibility of calling a new minister to join us on the journey ahead. We look forward to being in dialogue with you about how we might build our future together.

Sincerely,

TOM WYKES
Chair, UUFCO Ministerial Search Committee

 

From Our Developmental Minister


Dear Colleague,                                                                    

On these webpages, you will encounter a dynamic, high energy, growing congregation in a vital, growing town in a beautiful part of Oregon. In the two years that I have been Minister here, we have moved from a rental space with no meeting places or offices, to a stunning, award-winner of a church and grounds. Membership has grown by 75 to around 200 members, and the children’s program has blossomed once again. Worship and music have grown in quality to a professional level that does justice to the beautiful space. Staff has expanded by 100% and will continue.  A Sunday Volunteer Team program was created with attention to integrating people, and Soul Matters theme-based ministry was introduced to bring connection and coherence and it continues successfully. I could go on and on but you get the picture: UUFCO is traversing the pastoral to program-size shift at warp-speed. Professional ministry was introduced relatively recently, in 2004 when UUFCO had 60 certified members.

The size transition is big, especially for members and friends who have been part of the congregation for more than five or so years. Leaders are in the throes of putting organizational foundations under this suddenly larger and newly re-forming community. The laity is very professionally skilled, hardworking, and committed to figuring out what these changes require and what being in covenant means. Clarity about the nature of shared ministry, the role of professional ministry and how responsibility works in this larger context is an ongoing exercise. A benefit of Bend’s growth is UUs from all over the country are drawn to live here, many bringing experience in larger churches to share.

Bend itself is the biggest city in the state east of the Cascade Mountains and its facilities serve all of Central Oregon.  It is a resort town without big resorts, a popular home for athletic young families and retirees alike, and a liberal center in a conservative region, in easy range of Portland. There is an active arts community, learning programs, social justice community and newcomers. The most prevalent social issues are housing, poverty, and immigration/racial justice.

If you are a colleague in the Pacific Northwest, then I need not tell you what a strong and skilled collegial chapter exists here and what gracious support can be found within it. I have benefitted enormously during this high-intensity ministry from the wisdom and experience of those colleagues.

Few congregations have the blessings and resources this one has to realize the promise of our faith. The seeds have been planted and many new shoots of UUFCO’s ministries have germinated and sprouted. I leave knowing we have accomplished an enormous task together and I wish all success for UUFCO’s next ministry in growing into a settled and strong program-size UU congregation.

In faith,

REV. K. ANTONIA WON
October 3, 2016


From Our Board President

Dear Ministerial Candidate,

I hope to have the opportunity to meet you, to introduce you to our entire Board, our exceptionally capable group of lay leaders, and to share with you this wonderful and vibrant community and congregation that I am fortunate enough to be a part of. I trust that you will enjoy your interaction with our Search Team, and hope that you would like to join us in our journey as one of the fastest growing UU churches in the country.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon (UUFCO) has undergone quite a transformation in the last few years. We transitioned from renters to owners. Average attendance has doubled, and membership has increased by 50% since we moved into our new building in February of 2015. Half of our current members have joined in the last four years, which is when I first became a part of the community. One third are new in the last two years.  Many of our current leaders, for this reason, are relatively new to UUFCO, and many are also new to UU. We are filled with wonderful and talented people, but we are all still learning many things as we go through these transitions. We are seeking a trusting relationship with a settled minister who is willing to be part of a continuing journey of growth.

Photo of Mark Hickman, board president.

I personally started my involvement with UUFCO as a member of the choir.  Music is important to me, and it is an important part of our time together in this fellowship.  My next step towards involvement was as part of the building project, where I chaired the Information Technology Team. There were dozens of members who gave huge amounts of time to the creation of our new building, and it was exciting to be a part of this effort.  After this I helped to organize a new method for getting Sunday morning volunteers, since the number of volunteers needed was so much greater in a place we owned, and where attendance doubled. In my IT chair role, I introduced us to a new online Church Management Software platform called “Breeze,” which is allowing us to keep track of and to share all the involvements and skills of our members.

Although the previous paragraph sounds like it was all about “me,” I share it because I think my story is representative of who and where we are as a fellowship.  Many people are stepping up and stepping into roles and contributions that are new for them.  Many activities and processes are brand new for this fellowship, and we will continue to be in a period of discovery for some time.  Our leadership team is making great strides in moving us from the less formal governance style that worked when we were much smaller, to a more formal governance by policy approach. We will be seeking close alignment with our new minister on this work.

One other thing that is critical to know about us is that most of us are in Bend because we want to be here. Bend is a beautiful city with great recreational options, and many people move here for that reason. Play in the outdoors is important to many of us, as is preservation of nature. We are also truly a “welcoming community,” as shown by the bench by the front door which says “All are welcome here,” the rainbow flag that we proudly fly, and our covenant of love.

Our fellowship is looking forward to developing a strong relationship with a settled minister, while still being on a path of growth.  Thanks for your consideration of joining us on this path.

MARK HICKMAN
President of UUFCO Board of Directors

 

From OUR PACIFIC WESTERN REGION CONGREGATIONAL LIFE STAFF


Dear Minister in Search, 

I am the Program Manager for ministerial transitions in the Pacific Western Region and the primary Congregational Life contact for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon. I am so glad you are considering this congregation. There are some great features to this ministerial opportunity that I want to share with you. 

The Pacific Northwest is a great place to live. Central Oregon, and Bend in particular, is where many of us in Portland go on vacation. The weather is great and the land is beautiful, with outdoor activities and good food all around. The quality of life here is very good.  Ministers in Oregon belong to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the UUMA. This is a strong chapter where we pride ourselves on being warm and supportive.  

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon also has one of the most magnificent new buildings I have ever seen.  They are rightly proud of what they have created. In addition to its beauty, there is plenty of well-appointed space with good quality equipment. It is truly inspirational and will provide the right minister the physical space to do really fine work. This good Fellowship has been through a lot of change in the past ten years and this much change can bring some challenges. The minister who settles here will get to offer comfort and encouragement, as well as continuing to help build the internal structures to support this fast growing congregation. I think the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon offers a really great ministry opportunity. 

I would love to talk with you further about this congregation. Feel free to contact me at sschurr@uua.org

In Faith, 

THE REV. SARAH SCHURR
Pacific Western Region, Congregational Life Staff
November 5, 2016

 

From UUMA Chapter President

Dear Colleague,  

As the Chapter President for the Pacific Norwest District Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association, I am delighted that you are considering the ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon.

One unexpected wonderful gift I received in answering the call to the district was to become part of such a healthy and strong UUMA chapter.  This Chapter is comprised of scores of colleagues who are as informal as they are serious, just as invested in joy and comradery as they are in spiritual growth and justice.  It is truly a remarkable chapter.  We take our collegial bonds of support seriously, but we also work to create innovative programs, to partner in social justice work and to challenge and inspire each other to deepen and strengthen our ministries.  The chapter has been an incredible resource to my own renewal, joy, and professional growth.

We meet as a Chapter three times a year, in late September for a three-day retreat, and in January for a four-day program-focused retreat, and in April for a day and a half meeting just prior to District Assembly.  Ministers in this chapter are involved in leadership in the District and in the Pacific Western Region.  We have very high and engaged attendance at district assemblies and at the first regional assembly three years ago.  In addition, our chapter is also grouped into area clusters for collegial partnership and support throughout the year.

Should you decide to pursue this ministry position, I hope to be among the first to welcome you to your new role in the Pacific Northwest Chapter.  If I can be of help to you in the search process, please do not hesitate to be in contact with me.

I wish you all the best in your search process!

THE REV. CECELIA KINGMAN
President, Pacific Northwest Chapter
Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association

 
Photo of the "All are welcome here" bench at the entrance.