In December 2018, I had the privilege of traveling to China in my role as Head of the Department of Modern Languages. I traveled with the coordinator of the Chinese Program at WKU to visit our students who are studying abroad this year in Nanjing and Beijing. I could not have asked for a better travel companion. I observed that China is advancing rapidly. I was impressed with the way it is changing with the times, has embraced technology, and is building a stronger middle class.
Change is also occurring at the university where I work. And I find many parallels between my administrative role at the university and my position as your board president. In both cases, we have a mission. We have a limited amount of resources. We are called to be efficient in using our limited resources to fulfill our mission. When budgets get tighter, we must look again at where we are putting our energies. We must be creative in offering value while not spending beyond our means.
Change can be stressful—for everyone. For church leaders and members. For university administrators, faculty and students. And yet we can choose to see change is an opportunity to rethink and to reorient. When changes occur, it is essential to keep the lines of communication open. Do you have a concern? Share it with the right person so it can be addressed. Do you have an idea? Likewise. Do you wonder what is going on? Ask if you are not sure.
As a board, we try to provide timely and accurate information. If you have questions, please know that you can always talk to me. Or to any of our board members. The names of board members are on our web site, posted in Thomason Hall, and listed on the last page of this newsletter. They are Larry Berry, Kathie Downs, Matt Foraker, Ken Kuehn and David Wellman.
The university and the church have further parallels. At the university we have students. At church we have members. And in both contexts, we strive to offer a nurturing environment that fosters growth. We also offer educational programs to provide skills and to help lead to fulfilling lives. And we want to develop leadership, so that our organization is strong for this and for the next generation. Two such opportunities are coming up.
You Can Build Your Own Theology
Beginning Tuesday, January 15, our church will offer a ten-week learning and spiritual development course called Building Your Own Theology (BYOT). I took the course at this very church nearly a decade ago. I remember thinking how radical the title sounds. Who am I to “build my own theology?” And yet that’s what participants do in the course.
When I took part in this course, it was led by a board member, just like our upcoming course will be. Actually, this time, a team of three board members will lead. By the end of the series, I felt so much more comfortable at church, because I had become part of a community. I had connected with others in meaningful ways. I knew people’s names and what brought them here. Many of the participants went on to become committee members and chairs, even board members.
As part of the course, we wrote our own “ten commandments.” I would like to share the first of those with you now. My #1 was “Share your gifts (talents and material gifts) to improve the quality of life for others.” Who knew when I wrote those words that I would someday be president of this church? I certainly did not. And yet the supportive environment of BYOT helped me reflect on and live my values.
Space is limited to 10 participants, so sign up in the church lobby or on our website by January 9 to secure your spot.
Wanted: UUCBG Attendees for Midwest Leadership School
A second opportunity available to our members for personal, spiritual and leadership development is Midwest Leadership School (MWLS). MWLS will take place from July 14–21, 2019, on the beautiful campus of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Our UUA MidAmerica region extends from Kentucky to the Dakotas, and this amazing program brings together UUs who have an idea that they might want to live more fully, to reflect deeply, and to develop the skills to help their congregations become stronger. As a participant in 2016, I found MWLS to offer some of the most profoundly meaningful development I had ever received. I had received spiritual training before, and leadership training, but both of those artfully combined? And led by experienced regional staff? Among UUs who had also chosen to be there because they wanted to learn and to grow? Wow. It was truly life-changing.
Soon MWLS will open its registration portal for 2019. We wish to identify a small group of individuals to be sent with the board’s blessing to learn and grow at MWLS. We expect to be able to help cover all or part of the registration fee for those chosen to attend. Would you like to know more? Read about MWLS at mwls.org.
After attending as participants in 2016, Matt Foraker and I were invited to serve for three years on the MWLS lay staff. This is a continuing leadership development experience. In 2019, we will serve for the last time. I sincerely hope that in our final year of service, we see several UUBG members participate. You will be able to carpool to the location and focus on being fully present for this intensive experience. Did I mention that the food is delicious? Look inside your heart and ask: Is this right for me? Do I know someone I would like to nominate? Please let me know.
UUBG has provided a path to spiritual growth for me. And I hope through my leadership to share that with others.
Warmly, and with best wishes for a fulfilling 2019,
Laura McGee, Board President