What the Naughts Brought to UUCA

As 2009 drew to a close and the page turned to a new decade, the news media bombarded us with countless “decade-in-review” stories, passing judgment on what the naughts brought. Virtually without exception, the evaluations all concluded that the “oh-ohs” were a lost decade. The adjectives used to describe it ranged from difficult to disappointing, from depressing to disastrous. The message emanating from many diverse voices seemed to recite in unison: Just write it off!

But what is the message we take if we look at the same decade here at UUCA? Did we fall into the general malaise of the nation, or did we rise above and thrust forward into the new millennium full of energy and action? I think to almost any observer, a look back at the past ten years at UUCA would conclude the latter. It was a decade full of growth and vision that left us stronger and wiser.

At the start of the naughts, we had just made the bold move of bringing on a professional Director of Religious Education. As we celebrated Pat Kahn’s tenth year of service to UUCA in 2009, we were able to see how much of that vision had come to fruition in this decade: successes go from a strong curricula in all class levels, to family ministry teams, to a vibrant Coming of Age program, to service projects run by our children and youth, among many others.

But we did not stop at the professionalization of our RE programs. Over the past decade, we grew our staff to include a full-time professional Director of Music, a Director of Welcome Ministries, and a paid Youth Coordinator. With each of these positions, the congregation has been investing in the same sort of vision for our potential that the RE council and Board had when they brought on Pat.

Another major legacy of the decade was the renovation and expansion of our beloved building, made possible by a generous capital campaign and some remarkable lay leadership. The new building that emerged is larger, more accessible and much more energy efficient and sustainable than before the renovation. Without the expansion of the facilities, much of the rest of the growth we have experienced would not have been possible.

More recently, we have embarked on the major new project of running our own Atlanta Progressive Preschool. Unlike the past, when we hosted schools as tenants, APP is fully UUCA owned and operated, and one of its goals is to nurture our values in the broader community.

With the growth of our assets, staff, operating budget and programs, have come new demands on governance. This past decade, the congregation moved into a policy-based model of governance, which is more appropriate for the type of congregation we have become. At the core of
the model is the flexibility to allow the congregation to continue to move towards its vision.

All this change has not come without growing pains. The Board has recognized that there are areas that have not kept up with the pace of change, and we are working with the staff to address them. With a larger staff and budget, along with our own preschool, we need more a robust financial management system and administrative services than we currently have, and we are taking proactive steps to build it. With the move to policy governance, we need to reinvest in our volunteer system, and a major new volunteer management initiative is under way. Finally,
we need a road map for our vision of this new decade, in the form of a new long Range Plan, a project you will be hearing much more about.

The phenomenal strengthening of UUCA throughout the naughts would not have been possible without an engaged and generous congregation and strong lay leadership. As we move towards our vision of what the teens will bring us, we ask you all to take an active role in building our future.

Ellen Beattie
UUCA Board of Trustees Member