Read how Rev. Pamela Wat, Minister of Denton UU Fellowship in Denton, TX has adapted and implemented Faith Forward for her growing, 130-member congregation:
Faith Forward has been a wise investment for our congregation. The Inquirers Series took some time to adapt to our particular congregation, but that work has really paid off. It has been a key element in how we welcome newcomers and re-engage longer-term members. The series has demystified how to get involved in our congregation, what programs we offer, and what we teach our youth, and other aspects that we thought were quite transparent (but clearly weren't). We had already offered a workshop for newcomers, but this extended series is much more effective and creates more opportunity for connection and learning. We don't offer it consecutively, but run it as an eight-week series four times a year.
The Spiritual Practices workshops create a great way for Unitarian Universalists to explore methods of centering their spirits and connecting to something larger than themselves. I find that many of our newer members are yearning for this work. I especially appreciated the goal-oriented focus on creating a spiritual practice plan. We offer the Spiritual Practices series as a once-a-month offering throughout the year and we open it to the larger community as a free workshop. We also supplement the workshops throughout the year by inviting guests to present (to offer yoga, tai chi, etc.) and to draw in seasonal practices (like a New Year’s vision board practice).
The UU History series included videos that presented our history in an engaging, meaningful way so much so that we replaced our high school UU history program with the one from Faith Forward. Our high school students loved the stories and it helped their UU history come to life. As an added exercise we invited them to imagine a title and cast for each story as if they were going to create a movie of it. We have found that the creative energy of Faith Forward has helped inspire our creative energy as well! We are considering using more workshops from Faith Forward to lead youth programs.
The materials are very well-presented and help us reach the high bar of professionalism that many of our younger and newer members are seeking. There is minimal preparation to lead the classes, allowing even busy volunteers and staff to implement a series with very little work. In addition, most of our membership is new to Unitarian Universalism and they have not felt like they have the knowledge or authority to lead classes on Unitarian Universalism. The videos from First Unitarian Church of Dallas staff fill that gap by providing the expertise and the information, while our church members simply engage the group in discussion based on the provided discussion questions and the questions that come from the group after viewing the videos. In the meantime, as they lead and take the classes, they become knowledgeable UU's and stronger leaders.