Because It's Easy to Forget

…or minimize our successes. Here is an excerpt from my annual report:

2005 – 2006 has been a year of great accomplishment. Here are just a few of the successes we can celebrate:

Our First Year as a Teaching Congregation
The Intern Committee made a wonderful choice in Telos Whitfield, who has been an excellent and inspiring minister in our congregation. Her organizational and pastoral skills have been especially valued, as well as her preaching and leadership. The intergenerational class she taught (I Remember When…) was a great success. The Ministerial Fellowship Committee recognized Telos’ skill and ministry by granting her preliminary fellowship in December. Telos has fully engaged in ministry with the congregation and we will be sad to see her go when her internship ends in June. We are happy that we will be sending her to her first settled ministry, a shared ministry between congregations in Chester, VT and Walpole, NH. Our time with Telos has clearly shown us two things: that intern ministers can be a valuable addition to South Valley and that our congregation has what it takes to be an excellent site for intern ministers to learn and grow and be loved into the ministry.

The Successful Launch of a New Model of Religious Education

Using the Workshop Rotation Model, Laura Renshaw and the REGAL council developed and launched an exciting new way of doing children’s religious education at South Valley. The Sacred Travels program is making religious education more fun and more engaging for our kindergarten through 5th graders and more exciting and less stressful for adult volunteers. At our “Church Upside-Down Day” in January, adults got a real taste of what our children are up to and how they can be involved. It’s clear that this new model works with our congregation’s strengths to provide a quality religious education experience for our children. Many thanks and congratulations are due to our DRE, Laura Renshaw, and the volunteers that made this successful transition a reality.

The Creation of a Strategic Plan to Guide the Congregation’s Future
The Board appointed a Strategic Planning Committee that has taken their job seriously and worked extremely hard to create both a process and a plan that include input from the congregation. The plan they have drafted is faithful to both the vision of the congregation and the realities of our situation. They have been active listeners, incorporating feedback along the way so that the plan will accurately reflect the congregation’s views and goals for the future. This plan will guide us for the next five years of South Valley’s life—key years of institution-building and growth. The Board, the Strategic Planning Committee, and the congregation can be proud of the hard work that’s gone into this effort to build a strong South Valley into the future.

The Continued Growth and Success of our Small Group Ministry

Our SEMI (spirituality, encouragement, ministry and ideas) circles continue to be the heart of the congregation’s spiritual development and growth. This year we have had nine full circles meeting regularly, deepening relationship with one another and actively serving both South Valley and the larger community. SEMI circles have helped with Interfaith Hospitality Network, planned The Big Event, held after-service discussions, cleaned and maintained our building and grounds, helped maintain park service trails…and much more. Their commitment to service has helped South Valley be a place where our values are put into action. This is a key part of our congregational identity and it’s catching on! This year, the Board and the Women’s Group also chose to engage in service projects. Our SEMI circles are helping members and friends develop and sustain deep relationships through conversation and service.

A Unified and Effective Staff
Through the hard work of the personnel committee and the staff themselves, South Valley’s professional staff is working together smoothly and with good morale. Bonnie M (our Congregational Administrator), Laura R (our Director of Religious Education), James C (our Custodian), Manessa A (Our Religious Education Assistant) are all reliable, effective, and vital to South Valley’s day-to-day functioning. With the ministers, they keep South Valley going. They too, deserve the congregation’s thanks and praise.

An Endowment Committee to Manage the Congregation’s (Potential) Assets
Joe G, Janis R, Derek L, and David M have been working hard to track the progress of the bequest from Peter W to South Valley. This complicated and sometimes frustrating work has taken a lot of care, time, and attention to detail. Because this is our first major bequest, the Endowment fund itself has limited resources with which to detail with the ever-increasing and ever-more-expensive legal complexities. This committee has been doing good, hard, invisible work to help the congregation see whatever benefit we can from Pete’s gift. They are also committed to helping us grow and manage our endowment to best serve the congregation’s future.

Successful and Fun Events in the Life of the Congregation
This year’s Auction, Holiday Boutique, Yard Sales, and Big Event were all quite successful and fun. Each of these events takes serious time and commitment from volunteer leaders. They help the congregation have fun together—a key part of helping us get to know each other—and celebrate our amazing community. They also raise a significant amount of money for the congregation. When we look at our accomplishments, it is important to remember these events and the wonderful volunteers (too many to mention by name) that make them happen.