Well, here we are in a brand new year. For many, the move into the New Year comes after a very disappointing ending to 2016, and perhaps you think the future looks gloomy. We may feel powerless to make change, but it is also a time of opportunity.

First, looking to the future affords us a chance to look within ourselves for meaning and possible transformation. To once again answer the question “What gives me life”? Secondly, we can engage in dialogue* among ourselves in relation to this community, we all dearly love. What do we want to make of this congregation of ours? Thirdly, think about how can we make a bigger difference beyond our doors? With which organizations outside of OUUC could we join to make a bigger impact?

At the recent Congregational Meeting, you may have heard each of the Accountable Persons tell us what they have already done and then what they envision for the future. Just as they did, this is a time for all of us to dream big! A time for the Board to hear about your vision for the future of OUUC. How are we doing as a congregation? What is working well? What keeps you coming to OUUC? Are we heading in the right direction? If not, where should we be going and how do we change course?

To this end, the Board has scheduled several small Linkage Group Meetings in January and we hope that everyone can find a time to join us in dialogue. They are Saturday, January 14, from 10:00 am – Noon, Tuesday, January 17 also from 10:00 am to Noon, Sunday, January 29 after second service 12:30 to 2:30 pm and finally on Monday evening, January 30 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Sign up here.

I came upon this simple phrase several years ago and it has struck a chord with me. “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together.”  At first glance, it made me smile, but over time it became a rather profound statement for me. Actually we can make a difference, if we band together. Help us move ahead in 2017. Come to one of these Linkage Meetings bringing your ideas and love for our beloved community and let’s see what new things we can accomplish together.

– Lorrie Eaton for the Board


* In The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge makes a powerful distinction between dialogue and discussion: In a discussion, opposing views are presented and defended and the team searches for the best view to help make a team decision. In a discussion, people want their own views to be accepted by the group. The emphasis is on winning rather than on learning.

In dialogue, people freely and creatively explore issues, listen deeply to each other and suspend their own views in search of the truth. People in dialogue have access to a larger pool of knowledge than any one person enjoys. The primary purpose is to enlarge ideas, not to diminish them. It’s not about winning acceptance of a viewpoint, but exploring every option and agreeing to do what is right.

Dialogue helps teams to open closed subjects, remove blocks to communication and heal rifts. To build a climate that supports dialogue, try:

Asking Questions. Clarify what others are saying and ask others if they understand what you are saying.

Making Suggestions. Build on your team mates’ ideas. Acknowledge their contributions and integrate their ideas into your suggestions.

Encouraging Others. Not only have the courage to express your ideas, but have the consideration to listen to others. Make it a point to encourage others to contribute at least one new idea.

Asking for Feedback. Ask others what they think of your ideas and give constructive feedback on other people’s ideas.

Looking for Common Ground. As people share and build on their ideas, look beyond the positions to the deeper issues. Identify areas of agreement or “common ground” to serve as a foundation for positive discussion.