In the early days of UUCNH, we didn’t have a minister, so all of the Sunday services were lay-led and we didn’t meet during the summer. It worked pretty well. Still, we felt that, if we were to become a vibrant focus for liberal religion in the community, we needed to grow past that stage. So we did, and it has worked.
Our ministers have led us to become that vibrant church we dreamed of. But ministers need out-of- the-pulpit time to rejuvenate and do their other church business, and we do have a history of lay-leadership that can support that need. The Sunday Services Team (SST) is the group that does this. In “official-ese” the SST “is charged with providing high-quality, dynamic Sunday services for UUCNH, in concert with the Minister” and “planning and coordinating all Sunday services that are not led by the Minister.”
“Support” is the key word. While we (the SST) have a lot of autonomy, Scott is the boss. He usually lets us roll on, but if he needs to have the last word, he does. By contract and design, the minister is out of the pulpit once every month and for several weeks during the summer. We keep a file of available UU speakers, brainstorm among ourselves, and listen to congregational ideas to find subjects and speakers for those Sundays. For each of those days, one of us serves as a coordinator to help design a service that has a coherent, relevant message and that uses at least one “service element” that speaks to every individual. For example, some in the congregation need a time to meditate, some need music, and some need to see the children’s involvement. We try to include those, and more, to be sure each service speaks to everyone.
Besides issues of content and presentation, a lot of seemingly distinct issues can affect the services. Parking, seating, sound system quality, visual theme, music, lay leadership, and accessibility are a few of them. We are to be responsible for, or more commonly, to share responsibility for taking care of such issues. For the most part, other committees handle them quite well and we stay out of the way, but occasionally the buck stops here.
And after Sunday is done, we go over each service to discuss what worked well and what didn’t. We always try to improve. That’s something you can help us with, too. We look forward to hearing from you. You’ll find a “Service Topics Suggestion Box” in Friendship Hall. We’ll be there, too, if you’d like to talk.
Sunday Services Team (Kathi Finch, James Clark, Mary Doubleday, Cris Graham, Julie Kant, Alex Landefeld, Randy Minnich)