Minister’s Report to PrairieUU – October 9, 2019

AJ Blackwood, M.Div.

Prairie UU Church

“A Liberal Religious Light on the Prairie”


Mission: “We gather as a welcoming, caring community to nurture mind and spirit, celebrate diversity, and work for justice.”

October is well underway and boy oh boy has this past 6 weeks been an adventure!

Over the past 6 weeks, I have met with a variety of committees, leaders, members and the staff. I have heard from just about everyone lots of excitement about where the congregation is headed. There is a real spirit of love in this congregation that feeds.

Where we are…

The congregation is a healthy vibrant community. There is a strong vision and mission that undergirds just about all our activities and interactions. The investment in both the internal and larger community substantially shows a commitment to UUism that is truly impressive.

The entire community is doing an amazing job at reflecting, and adapting to having a new minister. I am very aware that having a new minister after 20 years of love by the previous minister is a challenge for any congregation and to have a new minister who is so dynamically different from the previous one has to be especially challenging. I am especially grateful for the welcome and hospitality that I have received from more people than I can name.

We have shared at worship, social service, and leadership events. I am grateful to have been able to attend Prairie at the Park and the annual auction as well as the Service Sunday activities at Bridge House: Ready to Work. We have had two well-received Sunday Services which I have led and two additional services that I have participated in.

Where we are going…

I am looking forward to becoming more involved in the community as we move forward. In my many conversations with many members of the community, I have heard several common themes including a call for more defined roles, transparency, institutional memory, organizational clarity, low visitor numbers, and burnout. As we move forward, we are looking into each of these areas.

We have already increased and will continue to expand our G-Suite communications usage and record keeping. We are starting to look into redefining and clarifying the roles of the Core Team, and the Committee on Shared Ministry. I will be meeting with the Associates later this month to help understand their roles. I am still not clear as to what role they play in the life of the congregation.

Growing edges… 

As with any community, there is always room for growing edges. I think the growing edges we have at PrairieUU is the area of communications and well defined organizational structures. While the congregation moves and shakes and operates impressively, there is also a need to understand how these processes work and how things actually happen. The congregation has this amazing organic feel to its processes and leadership. I have never experienced anything like it. I am truly impressed. It has developed a team spirit that is strong, alive, and full of dedication. I am looking forward to working with the community on improving and diversifying communication and understanding the nuts and bolts of how Prairie operates. I think we are off to a great start.

All in all, you are a wonderful community of people. I invite you all to give me feedback, candor, and generosity of spirit, and I will return with the same. I am truly looking forward to our shared ministry and life here at Prairie. I feel truly blessed to get this opportunity to spend this time with you.

If anyone would like to meet and chat, I am here to serve and I look forward to our shared time together. Thank you for inviting me to both your community and lives.

AJ Blackwood, MinisterIn Service,

Pastor AJ