Before We Get to Mars Survey of Congregational Interest – Round Two

Dear Members and Friends of Union Church,

Bottom line: By November 10, please fill out the second-round Before We Get to Mars survey online or via the letter you received in the mail. Thanks!

We are happy to write you again with information about the Before We Get to Mars project and the second round of our congregation-wide survey of interest. First, key points of where we stand:

♦ 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.

♦ The first step is for the congregation as a whole to decide what type of work we want for our focus.

♦ A second step will then be to figure out exactly HOW we address a particular challenge within that focus.

This past summer we distributed a questionnaire to the congregation with about 25 possible focus areas, asking people to select the ones they would most like to see as our focus.  Here are the top ten selections, in order:

• Hunger / Food Justice
• Quality Education for All (K-12)
• Healthy Chicago Neighborhoods
• Health Care Justice
• Jobs
• Environment / Care of Creation
• Gun Violence
• Drugs / Substance Abuse
• Quality Preschool Education for All
• Mentoring

Following that survey we encouraged the whole congregation to read the book Charity Detox, by Robert Lupton. We believe the book offers a valuable perspective about how we think of our Before We Get to Mars project. At the risk of oversimplification, Lupton encourages us to think beyond addressing the immediate “crisis” needs of individuals, and think of how to really “move the needle on poverty” through various strategies of economic development. We know that many people in the congregation have read the book, so we hope it will in part help guide our considerations in the future.

At this point, we are ready for a second-round congregational survey. Bottom line: By November 10, please fill out the second-round Before We Get to Mars survey online or via the letter you received in the mail. Thanks. All the directions are on the survey. We eagerly await hearing the direction of the congregation!

Based on the results of this survey, we will know the top three or four areas of work the congregation should consider. Then, through early 2018, we will help the congregation learn about these possible focus areas in depth, enabling the congregation to a make an informed final decision about the one area of focus. And then finally, with extensive input from the congregation, we will present specific strategy proposals, again for the congregation to make a decision about how, specifically, we will address the selected area of work.

So, in another format:

By November 10 —->
The survey results will give us three or four top areas of     interest

November – February —->
Congregation takes in depth look at the top areas of interest

By March 1 —–>
Congregational decision about one single area of interest/focus

By May 1 —–>
Congregational decision about one particular strategy for working on that area of interest/focus

After May 1 —–>
We’ll have an exciting challenge to work on, before we get to Mars!

Over the past few months, we have learned that our “Before We Get to Mars” vision is an innovative way of working as a church today. It captures some of the macro currents of church life, including being truly other-focused, being “hands on,” and making a noticeable difference in support of human well-being. We are happy to be part of this work, and we look forward to helping the congregation come to a good decision for our final area of work and our chosen strategy.

All the best to you!

In Christ, 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