Discernment: Heart and Soul


What Is Heart and Soul?

Heart and Soul Heart and Soul is a congregation-wide process of discernment to discover (or rediscover) the “heart and soul” of UUFR by exploring five questions that we will need to answer together to face the challenges that lie ahead.

  • Identity: Who are we?
  • Relationship: Whose are we?
  • Mission & Purpose: Why are we?
  • Vision: Where are we going?
  • Covenant: How will we get there?

The purpose of this discernment process is not to create a strategic plan, a new mission or vision statement, a proposed congregational covenant, to figure out how to “fix” any of the problems or challenges we face, or argue, persuade, or come up with the one “right” or “best” answer to the questions we’ll be exploring.

The purpose of the process is the process itself—the reflection, sharing, listening, and learning that will “plow the ground” and give us a better understanding of who we are and where we’re going so that we’ll be able to make the decisions and changes that we’ll need to make to be the community we want to be.

What Is Discernment?

The word “discernment” is derived from a Greek root meaning “to sift through.” Discernment is “sifting through” all the voices to discover which voice is most real, most true, and most good.

Discernment is a spiritual practice that lies at the heart of all of the world’s great religions. The Taoist sage, Lao Tzu, called it “waiting for the mud to settle.” For the Muslim philosopher, mystic, and poet, Rumi, it was patient deliberation: sitting quietly and patiently with a problem or decision, carefully “sniffing” it with the “nose” of wisdom, and seeking clarity before deciding.

It’s “soul” work that involves deep and honest reflection and introspection, sharing our needs and dreams with each other, listening to each other, learning from each other, and discovering together that path that will lead us toward the community that we aspire to be.

It’s important work that only we can do—together. And so, we need you to be part of the conversation—whether you’re a new or long-time member, whether you’re actively involved in the life of the Fellowship or not so involved.

Why Are We Undertaking This Process of Congregational Discernment?

In many ways, UUFR is more healthy, connected, engaged, and vibrant than ever before! But at the same time, we also face some significant challenges that hold us back from being the welcoming, inclusive, diverse, engaged, and vibrant community that we aspire to be.

The challenges that we are facing are not ones for which there are quick, easy “fixes” or technical, rather than adaptive, solutions. They are challenges that can be successfully addressed only after we step back, take a deep breath, and take some time to reflect on some important questions about who we are and what we want to be.

How Will This “Discernment” Process Work?

The “center piece” of the process will be a series of two-hour conversations over the next nine months (September 2016 through May 2017) focusing on the five discernment questions listed above.

Each conversation will be led by a team of three trained facilitators (Fellowship members and staff) using a process that will provide everyone with the opportunity to reflect on each question, share, listen, and learn.

We’ll “capture” what is shared during the conversations and share what’s learned with Fellowship members via our newsletter, bulletin boards, social media, etc. We’ll also encourage the entire Fellowship to participate in the process through sermons, worship, Cyber Pulpit articles, covenant groups, social media, on-line discussion forums, etc.

Additional Information & Resources