Our Branch Ministry Mission
First Unitarian’s branch ministry reaches out to small groups of Unitarian Universalists scattered throughout New Mexico who don’t have a nearby church. This ministry will bring these small groups into fellowship with First Unitarian. The program has four ambitious goals:
- To identify clusters of Unitarian Universalists throughout New Mexico not served by a local congregation and invite them into the First Unitarian organization
- To fully integrate the branch congregations into First Unitarian with all the rights and responsibilities of full membership
- To recommend policy and procedures for integration of branch congregations into First Unitarian
- To develop a model for large-church outreach that can be replicated elsewhere
The Branch Organizer
We employed a Branch Organizer to identify clusters of Unitarian Universalists scattered throughout New Mexico and talk with them about the branch ministry concept and what it can mean. In addition, he learned about their needs and expectations and discussed what their responsibilities would be as members of First Unitarian. As the branches started up, the Branch Organizer, supported by First Unitarian staff and volunteers, trained branch leadership and served as mentor and facilitator as the branch congregations moved through the process.
Our goal was for First Unitarian and an initial set of identified, trained, and organized branch congregations to begin the church year together in September 2007. Our two branch congregations, which joined us that year, are located in Socorro and in the East Mountains.
Connecting with Branch Congregations
To accomplish our branch ministry mission, we use every up-to-the-minute communication technique available—the Internet, video, and telephone and computer conferencing, and we’ll add new technologies as they are developed. For example, we’ve already successfully distributed sermons by uploading them to the church Web site and then downloading them at the branches in high resolution, getting videos of First Unitarian sermons delivered to remote sites via Internet within minutes of the live service in Albuquerque. Also, we could create covenant groups whose members are scattered throughout New Mexico and connect them via telephone or video conferencing. We are limited only by available technologies, our members’ needs, and our imaginations.
A Trend-Setting Program
This innovative program is of great significance to the First Unitarian. It’s a new method for reaching out and bringing people into a Unitarian Universalist community—people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a Unitarian Universalist congregation and to all the benefits of membership. The program is also important because it is First Unitarian’s opportunity to develop a new model for church growth—a model that can have national impact. If it works in New Mexico, perhaps it can work anywhere and everywhere there are Unitarian Universalists who need a church home!
If you can’t get to a church, we can bring the church to you.