Over Thanksgiving, we headed to the San Francisco Bay Area to spend the week with family. Jim and I had the opportunity to visit our aspiring congregation in the Leap of Faith program—Mission Peaks Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, California. [Background information on the Leap of Faith program is found at the end of this message.] The Sunday we visited happened to be the kick-off for Leap of Faith program. Rev. Howell Lind was visiting them for a long weekend and they held workshops all day Saturday.
Sunday was the formal kick-off for the congregation. Howell gave the sermon and helped lead the worship service. Having not been to many other UU churches since discovering our faith, I enjoyed seeing other traditions and a different kind of worship. During the service, the congregation presented our congregation (via Howell) a lovely banner matching the one hung in their church. The banner highlights our two congregations and the Leap of Faith program. After the service, Jim, Howell and I went to lunch with their minister (Rev. Jeremy Nickel) and some members of their Leap of Faith team. We provided feedback on their hospitality and service, especially coming in as strangers, and talked about their upcoming congregational meeting.
From our visit, it is clear that Mission Peaks has an enthusiastic and dedicated congregation. They have lots of ideas and are looking forward to learning from us as the mentoring congregation. We are specifically helping them in areas of leadership, membership and hospitality, climate change ministry, committee on ministry, governance structure, and mindful meetings. They are currently trying to gain congregational approval for a Special Fund to enable the congregation to engage in a congregation-wide environmental outreach project.
As part of the Leap of Faith program, the Mission Peaks team will be traveling to UUCB from January 10-12 to meet with members of our congregation and our Leap of Faith team (Howell Lind, Caitlin Moore, Barb Richards, and Amy Rowland). We will hold meetings on Saturday afternoon, host a potluck Saturday night, and have more conversations on Sunday. The goal is to continue to address questions they have and to help them move forward with their goals. If you are at church that Sunday, please welcome them!
Here’s some basic information on the Pacific West Regional Leap of Faith program (from a program handout). There are 16 aspiring and mentoring congregations participating in this year’s program.
What is Leap of Faith?
Leap of Faith is a one‐year experience that pairs a healthy congregation aspiring to grow with a healthy congregation that is growing. Together they focus on breaking through the barriers hampering the aspiring congregation’s growth. The program begins officially in August 2013 and ends in June 2014.
What are Aspiring and Mentoring Congregations?
Both have demonstrated health in shared ministry, and robust congregational life. An aspiring congregation chosen for Leap of Faith is poised for growth, but is experiencing a growth plateau or challenge. This congregation will be paired with a mentoring congregation that has been successful in growing through similar plateaus, has sustained stable or growing membership, and is ready to help the aspiring congregation explore the adaptive challenges that might be holding them back.