Final-Area-of-Work Survey Results

We are very pleased to present the results of our congregational voting for the final area of work for our Before We Get to Mars project. The area of work with the strongest support in the congregation is…


In fact, education received both the strongest and broadest support from the congregation, with jobs a reasonably close second, hunger/food justice third, and gun violence fourth.

Choosing this area of work is a huge step in our Before We Get to Mars decision making process. The planning team thanks the congregation for its careful and thoughtful consideration of the issues. Most people have recognized that all of our four issues are closely linked together, and this was really a decision about “where we could best jump into the  circle.” With as much as people in our congregation value education, with our vast experience with early childhood education, with the long lasting impact of education, and with the deep need for greater educational quality for all, it makes good sense that we will focus on this work in the future.

Now that we have narrowed our focus down to education, the next step is learning as much as we can about this issue and forming relationships with a variety of key players. Although our first impulse may be to suggest project ideas, we have months of education and relationship building around…well, education, before we can make an informed decision about what kind of project makes sense – and of course, there will probably be some initial “baby steps” before we get to a long-term, multifaceted commitment. The BWGTM planning team will soon present a more detailed description of the way forward, but in any case, this will be a time for all who are willing to help to contribute through learning and relationship building.

If you have a passion for education and would like to contribute to the next phase of the project, please let Grant Glowiak or Rev. Mike Solberg know so we can make sure you are part of the next step of work.

God bless us all as we undertake this fascinating and important work in education, before we get to Mars!

Before We Get To Mars – April / May 2018 Survey

Quick review:

The Before We Get to Mars project is intended to be a multi-year, all-church focus on one particular challenge faced by those in need. By harnessing the fantastic and diverse resources of the people of our congregation, agreeing on one area of focus, and acting with courage, commitment and patience, we think we can accomplish something astounding for God and other people, by supporting human well-being.

Moving forward:

We are now taking the next important step in our Before We Get to Mars decision making process. Based on previous congregational voting, we have narrowed our options down to four possible areas of work. With this survey, we will select the one area of work for our Before We Get to Mars project. After this, in coming months, all who wish to help will do the research and relationship building that will be necessary for the congregation to select one specific goal/project for this all-church, multi-year effort.

Before voting, if you have not yet done so, please be sure to read the summary paper on each of the four areas:

Summary paper on education [PDF]
Summary paper on jobs/employment [PDF]
Summary paper on gun violence [PDF]
Summary paper on hunger/food justice [PDF]

Also there is much more information, including videos of the presentations about each work area from our all church retreat in early February, 2018.

The question to ask yourself with this survey, is “Which area of work would I like to see our congregation focus on for the next several years?” Or, “What area of work would I be most enthusiastic about?”

This survey has now ended. 

This Sunday – Important Decision Day for Before We Get to Mars

Dear Members of Union Church,

This Sunday will be an important day for our Before We Get to Mars project. During the worship services (both 9:07 and 10:00), in lieu of a sermon, we will be presenting information and inviting questions about each of our four possible areas of work, and then we will distribute a survey so the congregation can select the one, final area of focus.

Before Sunday, it is important that everyone read our summaries of the four areas of work. Use the links to read the materials online or download and print. (Copies will be available Sunday also.)

Summary paper on education [PDF]

Summary paper on jobs/employment [PDF]

Summary paper on gun violence [PDF]

Summary paper on hunger/food justice [PDF]

After this Sunday, we will distribute the survey to the whole congregation, with a due date of May 6.

After this step is complete, we can begin the research and relationship building necessary to shape a specific project within the “winning” area of work.

You can find much more information about Before We Get to Mars, including links to videos of our retreat presentations on each area of work at

Thank you!

The Before We Get to Mars process planning team – Sharon Cooper, Michele Crowe, Grant Glowiak, Dave Johnson, Melissa Mann, Jackie Poetter, Joel Pundmann, Vera Shively, Ross Sweeney, Katie Szafarczyk, Nadine Woodle, and ex officio Ed Spacapan, Marilyn Johnson, and Mike Solberg

Sunday April 29 – a VERY IMPORTANT day!

Sunday, April 29, will be a VERY BIG day for our Before We Get to Mars decision making process!

Quick review: Based on input from over 150 church members we are down to four possible areas of work for our all-church BWGTM focus: Jobs, Hunger/Food Justice, Education, and Gun Violence. Our February all-church retreat was highly useful in understanding these areas of work, and there is much information in the videos of that retreat posted below. Big time commitment – but worth it!

And now, it is time for the congregation to choose our final, single area of focus. On Sunday, April 29, we will use our regular worship time to present information about each of the four areas, and then we will distribute a survey for everyone to be part of the final decision. So, please be present on April 29 (either worship service), and then please respond to the survey. We will also distribute the survey to the whole congregation, but you will appreciate having all the information from April 29 to make a good decision.

(Note: remember that this will narrow us down to one AREA OF WORK, but much more work/research and relationship building will need to be done before the congregation decides what the actual SPECIFIC STRATEGY/PROJECT within this one area of work will be.)

Videos from February BWGTM Retreat

On February 2-3 we had a wonderful all-church retreat focused on the four possible areas of work for our Before We Get to Mars project. It was a truly terrific time of learning and conversation. With about two hours committed to each area – Hunger/Food Justice, Jobs, Education, and Gun Violence – we heard from experts and brought the congregation closer to being able to make a decision about a final area of work.

Here are the videos from each area/session. The first video includes  important overview/context offered by Rev. Solberg.

Session 1 – Jobs

Session 2 – Hunger/Food Justice

Session 3 – Education

Session 4 – Gun Violence

Each session is long, but given the importance of the decision we will make as a congregation, it’s worth the time!

Important Retreat on Feb 2-3

All Church “Retreat” for Before We Get Mars
Friday, February 2, 6:30p – 9pm
Saturday, February 3, 9:00a – 3pm

Lunch and childcare will be provided.

So, you know the vision right? With our Before We Get to Mars project Union Church is going to make a difference in the world, and challenge and grow our faith in the process. Before humans get to Mars, let’s make the Earth more like God wants it to be!

We warmly and strongly encourage everyone to come to our All Church Retreat on Friday and Saturday, February 2-3. This will be an important time of learning as the congregation decides what our one focus area of work will be. For each option we will have a panel of experts here to teach us more about working on that issue. The schedule is:

Jobs – Friday, 2/2, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
• Growing Home
• IC Stars
• Recycle Force (via Skype)
• North Lawndale Employment Network

Hunger/Food Justice – Saturday, 2/3, 9:00 – 10:45 a.m.
• HCS Family Services
• Purple Asparagus

Quality Education for All – Saturday, 2/3, 11:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
• Hinsdale South High School
• Union Church Early Childhood Program

Gun Violence – Saturday, 2/3, 1:15 – 2:45 p.m.
• St. Sabina
• Do Not Stand Idly By
• Hinsdale Police Department

Please come for as much of the time as possible.

(For those on Ministries, Saturday 3:00 – 3:45 will be Ministry planning time)