FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE UUCB BOARD OF TRUSTEES FROM GROW* TASK FORCE 1.0
With an awareness that our church membership is growing, and with a focus on being and appearing to be a welcoming community, GROW makes the recommendations listed below for short term, medium term, and long term changes. Recommendations are divided roughly by committee. Key reasons for the recommendations are summarized in brackets.
These recommendations are based on five months of bi-monthly GROW meetings. During these brainstorming sessions no idea was out of the question. We allowed ourselves to be creative. The goal was to discuss and analyze these ideas thoroughly, setting personal biases aside. Input to the discussions came from the Sunday Service attendance count as registered in the Office Attendance Log; the membership count from the Membership Committee; input from Caitlin Moore for Appreciative Inquiry and Phil Wittmeyer for Building and Grounds; research into the experiences of other UU churches; and observations made by the GROW task force.
The Board should note that the recommendations for refining and improving accuracy in attendance counts of both adults and children are extremely critical. Current record keeping is inadequate, especially considering that GROW suggests quantitative triggers for re-establishing a GROW Task Force 2.0 to further evaluate recommendations.
The attendance numbers do not yet support major Sunday Service changes or facility changes. However, the numbers are high enough that, without an efficient flow of people, a sense of disorganization and crowdedness can easily be experienced. With this in mind, GROW makes the following recommendations for implementation as soon as possible:
(1) The job of ushering should be made a well-respected, special position. GROW highly recommends that usher training be made mandatory for all current and future ushers. Usher training should include:
a.) During the Sunday Service, ushers should be aware of which seats are empty and direct late-comers to those seats at an appropriate time during the service. [This should make late-comers feel more welcome, and there should be less interruption to those already seated.]
b.) Ushers should take an accurate count of all those in the Earth Room during the Sunday Service. An additional but separate count should be made of those listening to the service on speakers in other rooms of the building. These counts should be entered in the Office Attendance Log or in the new Logos system. [This count will become the measurement by which future recommendations will be decided.]
c.) Ushers should pass the Offertory baskets following a design that does away with confusion to the ushers and to the congregation. [Having all ushers follow one pattern should provide a better sense of organization to visitors.]
d.) GROW recommends that a book cart be set just inside the double entrance doors of the Earth Room for hymnals to be placed on after the service. After the Earth Room is clear, ushers should place the hymnals from the cart into the hymnal closet. [This should keep hymnal-collectors from moving backwards into the room after the service, working their way to the hymnal closet.]
e.) Before the Sunday Service, ushers should make sure the new name-badge-holder board (see Building & Grounds Committee) is open and flat against the west wall of the hallway, opposite the new-member bulletin board.
(2) Various table arrangements should be tried for Sunday morning coffee, including separating the drink table from the food table. [Experimentation of location and orientation of the tables should determine the best flow of people.]
(3) As an experiment, up to five heavy-duty 24″ diameter bar-height tables should be rented and placed throughout the Sky Room, to be used during coffee hour, for several Sundays. If this idea works, these tables should then be purchased. [This should encourage those with cups and plates in their hands to move away from the drink and food tables. Also having a table to set cups and plates should make it more comfortable to enjoy the refreshments, shake hands, and give hugs.]
(4) A few folding chairs should be placed around the plant window in the Sky Room for additional seating options during the Sunday coffee hour.
(5) A sturdy cart should be purchased for the purpose of transporting coffee and supplies to the new playground during the Sunday coffee hour. An announcement in the Midweek Messenger should be made to spread the word that coffee in this location will be available, weather dependent. If this idea works, a second cart should be set up for the same reason but taken out the front door for those conversing in that location. [This should encourage people to move to other spaces beyond the Sky Room but help them still feel connected to the after-service refreshments.]
Building & Grounds Committee
(1) A new rolling name-badge-holder board should be built that can be folded closed when not in use and, when in use, opened to place flat against the wall of the hallway. [This should give members more room to look for their badges, and should do away with the blockage of the hallway intersection near the minister’s office.]
(2) Grow strongly recommends that the analog audio/video system be replaced with a extendible digital system. [This system should eventually be extended to the Emerson Room, the Listening Room, and the Sky Room. These areas could become overflow spaces for Sunday Services. See Medium Term recommendations.] The A/V system should include a scrolling message board in the hallway.
(3) Current restroom direction signs should be replaced with signs that are more visible and informative for both sets of restrooms. [For many members and visitors, it is important and comforting to know there are restrooms that are easily found.]
(4) An Acoustical Consultant should be hired to study the Sky Room and, upon approval, recommended improvements should be completed. [Last done circa 1985 …. Improvements in sound mitigation technology, such as new types of acoustical materials, should allow for more comfortable conversing without straining to hear or speak.]
(5) Composite folding chairs should replace the noisy metal chairs in the Sky Room. [This should allow for better programs in the Sky Room which are currently often interrupted by the noise of the movement of the attendees’ chairs.]
GROW suggest that, just before the Sunday Service begins, the Worship Leader take a moment to assess whether the Earth Room is becoming full. If so, the Worship Leader could ask everyone to move toward the center of the rows to make room for those not yet seated. [This will provide a less crowded look to the room as visitors and members enter the room, which should help them feel more comfortable about joining the service.]
(1) Special-interest tables in the Sky Room during coffee hour should be pushed up against the wall. [This should allow for more central open space and better flow within the room. It will take up some bench-seating space but the seating that is available will be better because those sitting there will not be blocked by the tables.]
(2) Before each Board meeting, the Office Administrator should send to the Board a monthly report of Sunday Service attendance figures and a monthly report of Sunday children’s class attendance. [The Board should monitor these figures to determine when it is time to look at long term recommendations.]
Lifespan Faith Development
An accurate count of children attending Sunday morning classes should be taken and recorded in the Office Attendance Log each Sunday. When it is shown that classrooms are uncomfortably crowded, a note should be attached to the attendance figure to indicate a concern. [This count will be a measurement for deciding future recommendations.]
Board of Trustees
(1) Using the monthly Sunday Service attendance report received from the Office Administrator, GROW’s recommendation is that the Board should monitor Earth Room crowdedness levels. When the Board observes that 160 people are attending Sunday Services regularly, the Board should establish GROW Task Force 2.0 to begin work on the recommendations for implementing longer term changes. [From the research of GROW Task Force 1.0, when church sanctuaries fill to 80% capacity every Sunday, major changes are needed to alleviate the crowding. The Earth Room seats 200 comfortably. Eighty percent of this number is 160.]
(2) Using the monthly Sunday class attendance report received from the Office Administrator, the Board should monitor children’s attendance. When Lifespan Development reports that the classrooms are no longer comfortable due to overcrowding, GROW Task Force 2.0 should be established to make further recommendations. The 80% Rule may apply here as well, but this situation may occur independently from the Earth Room status.
Building & Grounds Committee
An Architectural Consultant or Structural Specialist should evaluate the spaces adjacent to the Sky Room and make recommendations for a new kitchen, a coat room, and other storage areas. After reviewing the recommendations with the congregation, steps toward implementation should be established. [Removing the coats and carts from the Sky Room should increase space for people and allow for the beauty of the room to be enjoyed more fully.]
Once an A/V system is in place for the overflow spaces (Listening, Emerson, and Sky Rooms), the Hospitality Committee should begin to use them as appropriate on Sunday mornings. This may include setting guidelines for: when and how to open these spaces, set-up and clean-up, and encouraging their use.
When the Board has determined that Sunday Service attendance in the Earth Room has reached the critical 80% capacity, GROW Task Force 1.0 expects that major changes to the present building, or holding two services a week, will be required. Costs to be considered include: construction, extra staff, higher salaries, and the possibility of losing members who disagree. It is expected that GROW Task Force 2.0 will hold many congregational informational meetings so that all members feel they have been a part of whatever decision is made.
OTHER IDEAS DISCUSSED DURING GROW’S MEETINGS NOV 2012-APRIL 2013
(1) Remove the hymnal closet from its present location in the Earth Room and move the sound system to a different location to open up this area of the room for additional seating.
(2) Build a housing unit for the furnace on the west patio so that the furnace can be moved out of the Earth Room, opening up that space for more seating.
(3) Replace door from Listening Room to Earth Room with a sound-proof glass door to give those in the Listening Room a visual connection to the Earth Room (assuming 1 and/or 2 above have been completed to create a visual path.)
(3) Provide satellite services for members in nearby towns.
(4) Spin-off a separate church in a nearby location such as Longmont.
(5) Move to a bigger building.
GROW Task Force Members:
Janet Kern, Chair
*Give our faith room to grow
Retain our ministries through integration
Outreach to more people who need us
Widen our vision to embrace change