Sunday Service and Potluck!
March 5

Join us this Sunday for a sermon titled “White Privilege: Significance and Backlash”. Guest speakers Sandy and Larry Feldman will speak about this important topic.



Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
2017 State of the Fellowship Meeting

Present (13): Lisa Fuller, Dave Sarra, Jim McConnell, Harvey Johnson, Charles Long, Dorothy Long, Gloria Weberg, Julie Williams, Mary Lou Elson, Hunter Leggitt, June Blackwell, Diane Gibbons, and Ellen Block.


Welcome. Attendees invited to identify and post their strengths (‘super powers’). Opening words, mission statement read. Reviewed Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (BUUF) five year plan for Sunday Services, Religious Education, Membership, Green Sanctuary, Welcoming Committee, and other mission driven initiatives, such as Benton Harbor Soup Kitchen and other community outreach and social action projects. Successes identified. Discussion regarding next steps.

Five Year Plan 2016-2020


Sunday Service/Religious Education

5-year plan: Sunday Service attendance will increase by 50% from a weekly average of 20 to a weekly average of 30; children’s Religious Education participation will increase by 100% from a weekly average of 3 to a weekly average of 6 children.

2016-2017 Action Items

  • Sunday Service and Religious Education will be assessed and revised to engage young people and families.
  • Safe, reliable childcare will be provided during Sunday Service.
  • The Sunday Service leader will record Sunday Service attendance each week.
  • The Director of Religious Education (or designee) will record RE participation.
  • Sunday Service homilies will be audio-recorded, posted on the BUUF website and shared in the weekly announcement.
  • UU principles will be displayed in the sanctuary and fellowship hall.

2016 Successes: Sunday Service/Religious Education

  • Sunday service attendance increased to 30 from weekly average of 20
  • RE participation increased to 4 from weekly average of 3
  • Order of Service and service leader scripting is consistent, structured
  • Members and friends are participating in services
  • Childcare worker hired
  • YouTube Channel established; recorded services coming
  • In Our Hands children’s RE curriculum flexing to accommodate children ages 3-8
  • Creative Conversations, Senior Brunch monthly
  • UU principles displayed in sanctuary (original artwork by Jim McConnell)
  • Pagan quilt displayed in sanctuary (original artwork by Gloria Weberg)
  • Red Tent event September 2016
  • Womyn’s group
  • Weekly newspaper advertisement

Sunday Services/Religious Education Discussion

  • Hire Candace full-time on piano through summer (currently budgeted ¾ year – impact on budget?)
  • Summer children’s RE. Self-contained, week by week lessons, with outdoors focus (plant and/or weed garden – Green Sanctuary focus).
  • Promote BUUF activities with weekly news releases in small local papers which would provide free publicity. Three Oaks publications/Benton Spirit, Berrien Springs Journal Era, Niles Star, etc suggested.
  • Provide childcare at adult RE programs to attract young families. Need to consider a budget/time impact for all events.
  • Record all childcare.
  • Avoid politics in our services, save those discussions for other times, such as Circle Talk after the service.
  • Better share concept of Circle Talk at the beginning of our service: that we will have an opportunity for free and open discussion after the service. Visitors don’t know what Circle Talk is, unless we explain it at the beginning of the service.
  • Provide printed material for service leaders to standardize aspects of our service, such as our Welcoming Statement.
  • Publicize that Creative Conversations and Senior Brunch offer extended Circle Talks.
  • Open Senior Brunch to community seniors.
  • Consider renaming Senior Brunch.
  • Focus on improving communication.
  • Communicate how to access monthly calendar to look ahead to see what’s on the schedule
  • Include Sunday Service topics on monthly calendar
  • Expand calendar to include even more information about local events (such as local women’s march).



5-year plan: Membership will increase by 50% from 28 to 42 members.

2016-2017 Action Items

  • The BUUF end of summer picnic will be a community event with games, food, music, dancing.
  • A regimented pathway to membership will be developed.
  • BUUF youth will be invited to become members and be recognized at a new member service.
  • Members will be active on the BUUF facebook page. Sharing BUUF posts on personal facebook pages is an easy and effective way of communicating the BUUF message to a wider, often like-minded, audience.
  • BUUF logo wear will be developed and used to represent BUUF in the community, even at non-BUUF events.
  • Community Outreach / Social Action (CO/SA) partner events will be featured on our website, calendar and weekly announcements.
  • CO/SA partners will be invited to use the BUUF building for events and meetings

2016 Successes: Membership

  • Excellent end of summer picnic held at BUUF
  • Quarterly UU Allcomers
  • New member ingatherings
  • Voting membership increased from 28 to 30
  • Facebook at > 100 likes, up from 50 one year ago
  • BUUF logo wear created
  • CO/SA partner events on website
  • Hosted Pride Prom fundraiser, 3rd annual OutCenter Halloween Party

Membership Discussion

  • Improve availability of BUUF T-shirts (and other possible logo wear).
  • CO/SA could do something with undocumented farm workers in our community, or poverty and racism in Benton Harbor and Berrien County as with CO/SA partners Calling All Colors, All God’s Children’s Choir.
  • Add a CO/SA drop down icon on our website
  • Update display board at the back of the Fuller Fellowship Hall with info on BUUF doings.
  • Suggestion to change the CO/SA acronym to Social Justice Committee.
  • Post weekly activities on Facebook.
  • Financial commitment is required for voting membership, maybe extend monetary requirement to all membership?
  • Encourage all members and friends to make a pledge “within yourself.” Membership is more important than a price tag.
  • Should we subdivide our goal of increasing membership between voting and non-voting members?
  • Provide more hospitality, such as sending cards, making calls, and providing transportation.
  • Focus on personal connections, make our directory availability. Externally we need to develop more community relationships.
  • Create resource of photos and bios of members. BUUF has some history stored in the attic.
  • Membership Committee is an opportunity for anyone looking to serve our members.
  • Circle Suppers for fellowship and discussion.
  • Plan breakfasts at BUUF before Sunday services.
  • Fundraiser May 19th Doo Wop concert by The Spaniels. Properly promoted will bring people into our building.


Green Sanctuary

5-year plan: BUUF will achieve Green Sanctuary certification.

2016-2017 Action Items

  • Low maintenance ground cover or natural plantings will be added to the front lawn to decrease mowing requirements.
  • BUUF members will support Emma Kinnard’s Fresh Start or another community garden.

2016 Successes

  • Proposal for Verbenum plantings presented to board
  • Fresh Start garden supported weekly Summer 2016
  • Solar lawn mowing
  • Environmental Justice Film Series (third Thursdays)

Green Sanctuary Discussion

Expect to turn in application by Earth Day this spring.

Suggestion to seek designation of BUUF property (5 acres) as a DNR Wildlife Sanctuary. Provide habitat for animals and birds.

Raised beds (could include an RE pizza garden). We could grow plants/flowers which would attract Monarch Butterflies and bees. In our “green hints,” we could include information about using rain barrels.

Establish a “green burial” site. Mentioned that a funeral home in Niles services green burials.


Welcoming Congregation

5-year plan: BUUF will renew our status as a Welcoming Congregation.

2016-2017 Action Items

• Welcoming Congregation re-certification activities will be identified.

2016 Successes:

• Hosted Pride Prom fundraiser, 3rd annual OutCenter Halloween Party

• Supported OutCenter give back at LakeHouse Feb 2017

Welcoming Congregation Discussion

Plan to be re-certified by next year, beginning this year with an assessment of our progress since first being certified in 2006.

Welcoming Congregation message needs to go out externally to our community to recruit new members.

Is the LGBTQ+ community aware of UUA definition of Welcoming Congregation?




Attendees encouraged to align their strengths/super power sticky notes to discussion items.

State of the Fellowship Part 2 planned for May, 2017. Decide on any new proposals for congregational vote at June 4, 2017, Annual Meeting.

Meeting adjourned.