By Conference Minister Diane Weible
I heard a colleague speak about “the culture of volunteerism” and that phrase has stuck with me. Part of the reason for that is the conversations we have about all that we need to and want to do in terms of ministry and that there never seem to be enough resources to accomplish everything.
I hope to deepen the “culture of volunteerism” in this Conference. As you all are well aware we are in a season at the Conference Office where we are relying on a wonderful volunteer (thank you, Carol Barriger!) to help us through this time that Joy is away.
We also have amazing volunteers in our members of Conference Council and the sections of the Committee on Ministry as well as our camping, stewardship and justice and witness ministries. We have another Office volunteer who is also amazing. Our Associations benefit from the gifts and skills of volunteers and quite a few of you volunteer with national setting ministries. One time I added up the number of people who volunteer in some capacity and I stopped counting at 100 people—the total number is certainly higher.
This reflecting made me realize we have an already-established culture of volunteerism in this Conference that is amazing and wonderful. And, I wonder, can I be so presumptuous to ask for more? Do you have a particular gift or skill that you would be willing to offer to the Conference? Perhaps you could visit churches and bring greetings on behalf of all of our churches in the Conference, listening for what that particular church needs and sharing that with us so we can better meet our goal of providing resources and support to our local churches? Maybe you have a gift (and time) for office work and we could add you to a list of possible volunteers the next time we have a particular office project that we cannot accomplish alone? Are you gifted in carpentry and fixing things and would be willing to volunteer at one of our camps? If you are an authorized minister with some time and passion for mentoring, would you be consider accompanying a Member in Discernment or a newly ordained minister on their journey? Are you really good at technology and would be willing to assist our Board, Committee, and staff members as we move some of our work and processes to the Cloud?
I could keep going as I have no doubt there is a gift or skill out there that I have not even yet thought about but that is desperately needed. In fact, I just thought of another. The Western Region Conferences of the UCC have been working on a project that we have named “b1”. B1 is an app for churches, Associations and Conferences that invites all churches to create a web presence that can connect us to one another. For example, if your church is engaged in homeless ministry and you are looking to connect with other churches in your area, in the Conference, or in the region, you can go to the app, do a simple search, and immediately have a list of churches you can quickly reach out to through email. If you post an activity or event on your website and tag it, any other church could pick up that announcement and share it in their newsletter or with their church members or with others using the app. It’s a great way to promote the wonderful work your church is doing and invite others to be a part of it.
B1 invites churches, Associations and Conferences to host their website on the B1 platform at a cost that is probably less than what you are paying now. You don’t have to have your site hosted by B1 to use the app and the cost is based on the size of your congregation. There may be financial assistance available for those who need it.
We are working on promotional materials and will be formally announcing this soon but I mention it here for two reasons. First, I just learned that churches that sign up for this ahead of the formal June launch will have setup costs waived. The second reason is because we actually have an immediate need for someone who is willing to help us get this information out to churches and answer questions our churches may have as they consider signing on to this project.
The Hawaii Conference has a great web page explaining this wonderful platform and I encourage you to take a look at it.
Yes, we do have a Culture of Volunteerism in the Northern California Nevada Conference of the UCC, and I am exciting about opportunities to build and strengthen this as we move forward.