Jody and I with other UU’s at a baseball game fundraiser

At the University of Pittsburgh, I directed the strategic planning support activities for a major research university facing an unprecedented crisis in leadership. Morale was at an all time low and deferred maintenance would soon bankrupt the institution. I crafted a planning and budgeting process (later used by other universities) that helped identify core mission areas, promote participation by all constituents, and link budget and personnel planning directly with planning for strategic goals.

When I arrived at Midland, the congregation had already adopted and rejected the Carver model, and had begun implementing the Hotchkiss system of Governance and Ministry – a model I wholeheartedly endorse. I led the effort of the Governance Team in completing implementation, which eventually led to a new mission, a new vision, statements of core values, and overhauled By-Laws. This governance system strongly links lay and ministerial leadership and guarantees fiscal responsibility while at the same time providing funding for opportunities.

hotchkissSince 2011, the Fellowship budget increased to accommodate additional hours for the Director of Religious Education, more funding for physical plant upkeep, and new revenues for ministry team expenses. For the past two years, the Fellowship achieved its pledge drive amount for the first time in its history.

The Midland Fellowship remains in active and ongoing strategic planning.  Supporting these efforts is a strong commitment to move from a “haven” church to a congregation that truly invites people from the broad community.

That said, any governance system will work if enacted appropriately.  The converse is also true: any governance system will fail if improperly stalled or operated.