First Unitarian Society in Newton

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Participate in the Straw Poll--or Email Your Questions

FUSN Purpose Statement and Core Values

November 20, 2009

The Purpose/Values committee presented the results of the straw poll to the Board on November 13. 161 of 353 members – or 46% - participated in the poll. Of those voting, 66% voted to keep the existing Purpose statement. Additionally, of those voting, 73% would choose to adopt the core values as they were presented.

As you probably know, the Purpose statement is required in the society’s By-Laws, but there is no requirement or existing list of core values.

For a table of the results of the straw poll, click here.

Based on this outcome the Board plans no further actions with respect to changes to the Purpose Statement.  The Board will, however, publicize the Purpose Statement so that members, staff, and newcomers know what it is and we will encourage its use more frequently in congregational life.  Because so many members voted in favor of adopting the Core Values (nearly three-quarters of those voting) the Board will be informed by these values in its decision-making and setting FUSN’s direction.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to participate in this process and to vote your opinion. We hope you found it as rewarding an experience as we did.

Purpose statement as stated in the By-Laws:

We come together in an open community that honors freedom of belief, to encourage spiritual growth in ourselves and our children, to share the wisdom of the many religious traditions, with reverence for the earth and in service to humanity.”

Core Values:

  • spiritual growth
  • community connection 
  • the inherent worth of every individual 
  • social justice 
  • open-mindedness  
  • education 

November 1 – November 8, 2009

Instructions: Voting begins on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, during coffee hour. Voting ends Sunday Nov. 8, 2009, at the conclusion of coffee hour. All members may vote. Paper ballets are available from the committee voting table set up during coffee hour.

Members may also vote by email by sending their choices to Jeffrey [dot] baker [at] forum [dot] com or U.S. Mail by sending their choices to Pat Rohan, 111 Dedham Street, Newton, MA 02461. Email and U.S. Mail ballots must identify the member’s name who is voting, and the ballot must reach Jeff or Pat no later than 12 Noon on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, in order to be counted.


Question 1.) With respect to the FUSN Statement of Purpose please chose one of the following options:

  • Continue to use the current FUSN Statement of Purpose with no changes, which is: “We come together in an open community that honors freedom of belief, to encourage spiritual growth in ourselves and our children, to share the wisdom of the many religious traditions, with reverence for the earth and in service to humanity.”
  • Replace the current FUSN Statement of Purpose with the proposed statement of purpose, which is: “Our purpose is to be a transformational community, rooted in Unitarian Universalist tradition and principles, that nurtures spirits, minds, hearts, and action.”
  • I want a new FUSN Statement of Purpose but I am not satisfied with the choices above. I want to keep working with others in FUSN to create a new statement of purpose that I can enthusiastically vote for.

Question 2.) These are the proposed FUSN Core Values the congregation developed in March and April 2009 at the same time it worked on the Statement of Purpose. Please note these Core Values do NOT replace the Unitarian Universalist principles. Rather, they are in addition to the UU principles and are specific to our congregation. No descriptions of the core values will be added beyond the words after each bullet.

The core values, which guide our actions, are

• spiritual growth

• community connection

• the inherent worth of every individual

• social justice

• open-mindedness

• education


With respect to the above proposed FUSN Core Values please chose one of the following options:

  • Do not adopt any core values.
  • Adopt these core values as written.
  • I want to adopt a set of core values, but not this exact set. I want to keep working with others in FUSN to create a set of core values that I can enthusiastically vote for.


Why are we revisiting the FUSN Statement of Purpose?

A vibrant organization is clear about its purpose and can succinctly express it. A well-crafted purpose statement helps members to more deeply and explicitly align their own life purpose with that of the organization. It aids decision-making regarding where the organization will focus its energies and how it will use its resources. It enables prospective members to determine if this might be an organization for them.

Organizations evolve and change, as does the environment in which an organization operates. Members come and go. Accordingly, to remain truly representative an organization’s purpose statement should be reviewed and revised periodically. The UUA for example requires in its bylaws a review and revision to its principles and purpose at least every 15 years.

The current FUSN statement of purpose was adopted June 13, 1990. Nearly 68 percent of FUSN’s current 353 members were not members when the current purpose statement was developed and adopted. It is well past time to collectively undertake a review and possible revision of our organization’s purpose.


Brief History of the Project

Sept 2008 Committee on Governance submits its report full report to the Boart of Trustees and spends a day helping the Board to interpret the report and determine appropriate response to it.

Board identifies six priorities on which it will focus for the 2008-09 FUSN year. One of the six priorities is to revise and/or renew the FUSN mission statement

Dec 2008 Board asks Jeff Baker to lead a committee chartered to revise the FUSN Mission Statement (subsequently named the Purpose statement). Committee members include Barbara Bates, Clare Kastner, George Psathas, Pat Rohan (ex officio), and John Nichols.

Jan-Feb 2009 Committee clarifies its charter with board by adding the development of Core Values and Vision. Committee commits to an approach that will invite the voices of the entire congregation in a series of dialogues. It recruits facilitators to help guide the dialogue sessions and orients them to the planned process.

Mar 2009 First congregational dialogue session conducted. 2 ½ hours in duration and approximately 75 members plus 10 facilitators attended. Discussed and generated statements of purpose, core values, and visions for FUSN’s future.

April 2009 Second congregational dialogue session held. 2 hours in duration and approximately 70 members plus 9 facilitators attended. Reviewed, discussed, and ultimately chose a statement of purpose and the core values from all that was generated in the March dialogue session.

May 2009 Committee presents to Board of Trustees its recommendations for purpose and values based on outcomes of the multivoting and table group discussion in the April congregational dialogue session. The proposed statement of purpose and core values are verbatim language generated by the many members who participated in the dialogues sessions. The committee did not edit any language.

Committee recommends that any FUSN vision for the future work be continued in the Fall by the new board and perhaps a strategic planning committee. Board reviews and discusses Committee’s recommendations and the process the Committee used. Board agrees to submit recommendations to the congregation for a straight up or down vote at the annual meeting on June 8.

June 2009 During the congregational Annual Meeting the Jeff Baker as committee chair brings forward proposed statement of purpose and core values for congregational vote. Some members object to motion to vote because the warrant for meeting did not clearly state that the vote would affect the bylaws. The statement of purpose is in Article II of FUSN bylaws. No vote is taken nor is there any discussion of the proposed statement of purpose or core values during the annual meeting.

Sept 2009  Board of Trustees asks Committee for its recommendation on best way to advance this project. Committee proposes and BOT accepts a plan to conduct a straw-vote in order to gain a full sense of where the congregation stands on the proposed language. Following the vote the BOT will determine next steps. BOT asks the Committee to wait until the New Minister Search Committee finishes its work with the congregation, so as not to over burden or confuse members with these two different project.

Oct 2009 Open conversations are hosted and facilitated by committee so that members may re-familiarize themselves with the proposed language and to provide a forum to share thoughts and feelings about it.

Nov 2009 Straw poll of congregation members is taken on the proposed language. The language is unchanged since it was developed by the congregation in the March/April 2009 dialogue sessions and offered but never voted upon at the 2009 Annual Meeting.


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