Searching for the Future – Mission and Vision Statements

Searching for the Future (SFTF) is a weekend program of small group workshops designed to help a congregation clarify its vision and mission, and develop an initial set of goals and priorities that can jump-start a  strategic plan.   The process is tailored to the specific needs and starting point of each congregation, and often focuses on the physical and financial resources needed to support their mission and vision.  It is especially helpful for framing requirements for major facility improvements or program expansion, initiatives typically supported by special or capital campaigns.

The magic of the process is that it takes place in one intensive weekend, in which as many congregants as possible participate in workshops facilitated by trained congregants.  The workshops are lively, making the process of clarifying vision and mission not only painless, but actually fun.  The energy and enthusiasm create a palpable “buzz” and build momentum for future steps.

The process includes a “train the trainer” component in which the consultant facilitates a session on Friday evening for congregants who then facilitate sessions on Saturday.  This provides diverse benefits such as leadership development, congregation ownership of the process and results, leveraging of consultant resources, and enabling large numbers of congregants to participate in small groups all in one weekend.


  • Develops a common vision of the future to serve as a focal point for strategic, financial, and building plans
  • Creates momentum through the intensive weekend process
  • Engages large numbers of congregants, promoting buy-in for major projects to follow
  • Provides opportunities to identify and inspire emerging leaders

What We Offer:

Our consultants work with congregation leaders in advance to customize the process to ensure it reflects work that has already been done and desired outcomes.  For example, if your congregation has recently developed an inspiring and effective mission statement, the SFTF process would be tailored to build on it rather than seeking to create a new one. And if a building program is a key desired outcome, the discussion of goals and priorities would focus on physical plant needs, while still ensuring a comprehensive look at how best to support mission and vision.  Other preparatory work is helping recruit congregation members who will serve as facilitators.

During the weekend, the consultant facilitates the Friday evening session for the volunteer facilitators. This session has two purposes: it allows the facilitators to be participants and contribute their input; and it trains them to be facilitators for the rest of the congregation.  Facilitators need not be congregation leaders, thus affording an opportunity to recruit newer members and develop new leaders.  The consultant kicks off the Saturday program and then monitors the small groups to ensure they stay on schedule and on task.  The consultant then convenes a final wrap-up session either Saturday evening or Sunday to consolidate and synthesize the results of the all of the small groups and create a consensus package for presentation to the congregation.

Your Stewardship For Us Team consultant is available to help recruit, convene, and orient a planning task force to take materials from this weekend and rapidly produce a clear and actionable set of goals, benchmarks, and quantifiable outcomes to serve as the basis for a strategic plan.

Searching for the Future Support

We learned so much from Kay & Sara

“Our visiting steward program has been going great!  Lots of positive response. We are all enjoying getting to know others at a deeper level. We learned so much from you that has helped us be successful this year and will continue to help us in the future.”

—Pam Kisor, President, UU Community of the Mountains

Great workshop

Thanks again for a great workshop. Our team certainly left energized and imagining new possibilities for stewardship at First Church Boston.

Lisa Garcia-Sampson, Intern Minister

We are FIZZING with inspiration

I LOVED this workshop!! We who attended are FIZZING with inspiration and ideas. Mark’ facilitation was a revelation!!

Robin Lovrien, President of UU Church of Ellsworth, ME

It was an invaluable experience

…some of your insights have shifted the way we are seeing things here and talking about our future. I feel like it was an invaluable experience.

Rev. Laura Smidzik, Michael Servetus Unitarian Society

Our biggest financial problem solved

Part of Rachel’s success was definitely due to her personality and a trustworthiness and knowledge that came through in her interactions with congregants. Even though we didn’t go into a Capital Campaign as we were anticipating, our biggest financial problem ended up being solved.

Rev. Chris Hockman, UU Church of Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi TX


I am so grateful for all you’ve done

Six months ago I wondered if we had the leadership capacity to take on a capital campaign. But the visioning process [Creating the Future Weekend] has changed my perspective on that – I’m so heartened by how some new folks, as well as long-time folks, have stepped up and are excited about this work. It’s really great and I am so grateful for all that you’ve done to make this possible!

Rev. Frank Clarkson, Universalist Unitarian Church of Haverhill, MA

Clarity and direction to move forward

Rachel’s investigative work, presence and presentation have provided us with the clarity and direction to move forward in fulfilling our dream of radical welcome.

Patty Daus, Chair Building Task Force, UUCC, Columbia, MO

It’s really worth the money

 It’s really worth the money because you get a professional who will take a forthright look at your assets in terms of cash, property and people and help you utilize all to the fulfillment of vision. 
Rev. Dr. Nori Rost, All Souls UU, Colorado Springs CO

Understandable, visual, powerful presentation

Rachel did a great job of distilling a lot of information into understandable, visual, powerful presentation.

Rev. Dr. Nori Rost, All Souls UU, Colorado Springs CO

Rachel’s work as been invaluable

Your work and presence and experience have been absolutely invaluable. You are worth ten times what we are paying you.

Rev. Elizabeth Stevens, UU Church of the Palouse, Moscow ID

Expertise immeasurably helpful

“As a minister, engaging in my first building project/capital campaign, I found the expertise of our consultant immeasurably helpful. She provided what we needed, when we needed it, while empowering us to stretch our leadership. We could not have done it without her, yet we feel we did it ourselves. The sign of great consultancy!”

Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry, Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Knowledgeable, inspiring, down to earth

“Kay Crider was a terrific resource. Knowledgeable, inspiring and very down-to-earth. She helped us at each step, and was a calming influence when the anxiety started to rise! She helped us bring in both the annual pledge drive and the capital campaign drive, both exceeding our goals!”

Rev. Ruth Rinehart, Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Great information and great coach

“We could not have done this campaign without Kay’s help. And at difficult times she offered great information and was a great coach to us.”

Larry Sherwood, Co-Chair of Combined Annual & Capital Campaign, Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Smartest decision our board could have made

“Kay has been an amazing resource and having engaged her was one of the smartest decisions our board could have made.”

Jason Hall, Co-Chair of Capital Campaign, Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Home visits well received

“Kay gave us good advice … about the state of our financial picture and guidance about how best to proceed. We planned a clear campaign and made home visits which were well received. The service was a very good value for the cost and helped us a great deal.”  

President, Bozeman Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Worked well with leadership

“Barry is a great communicator with good experience in supporting Capital Campaigns. He has worked well with leadership and has been well received.”

George Belsey, CC Co-chair, First Universalist, Denver

Extremely accurate predictions

“Barry was very effective in his work with our campaign staff, and was extremely accurate in his predictions about our fundraising potential. His interviews with our leadership donors were also very effective. I have had several opportunities to speak with leaders in other congregations around the country about Barry’s abilities. I and others at First Unitarian recommended him highly without hesitation.”

John Hartgering, Treasurer, First Unitarian Church of Orlando.

A really good fit for us

Barry’s work with us “…provided a clearer picture of our strengths, weaknesses and how to address both as we move forward toward a capital campaign. I heard many people say they thought Barry was a really good fit for us. I happen to agree.

Jane Mayer, Board President, UU fellowship of Athens GA

Fired up and ready

“Barry presented a training session for our visiting stewards that got them fired up and feeling ready to contact their assignees.”

Linda West, Stewardship Leader, First Parish in Cambridge

Skills and tools to bring to congregation

“Barry Finkelstein’s keynote on Stewardship was the most valuable feature. It was thought-provoking while also giving me skills and tools to bring back to my congregation.”

SLD Leadership Day attendee

Pledge increased by 50% directly after the training

Barry “helped us with the training for the capital campaign and the stewardship drive. That training actually caused a capital campaign pledge to increase by 50%, directly after the training. Barry was exceptionally well tuned into who we are and what our needs were.”

Conrad Paul, Stewardship Leader, Mountain Vista UU Congregation, Tucson, AZ

Exceeded our goal

Barry Finkelstein gave our recent capital campaign a needed boost of expertise and coaching. From the initial “Next Steps Weekend” that determined our readiness to take on a major capital project to my final call over a year later that we had, in the end, exceeded our fund-raising goal, he was with us every step of the way. Now we are working with our architects on final building designs and will soon break ground, thanks to Barry’s guidance.

Bob McArthur, Chair, Building Project Steering Committee and Board of Trustees member,

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Athens, GA.

Guidance about how best to proceed

“The service was a very good value for the cost and helped us a great deal. Kay provided direct advice about the state of our financial picture and guidance about how best to proceed.”

Amanda Cater, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bozeman

Looking forward to financial feasibility study

“Kay was excellent and provided a great deal of information. We’re looking forward to the next phase … ”

Steve Clem, Cascade Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Expert advice, training, report

“Expert advice and deep experience of advisor. Training of stewards. Final report. Really the question might be “What wasn’t helpful?” Because EVERYTHING was helpful!”

– Stewardship Chair, Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation


Increased our confidence

Stewardship Coaching Client Review
Liz Bredeson

After several successive campaigns that struggled to recruit volunteers, generate excitement and increase pledges; we were in need of an injection of enthusiasm. Mark increased our confidence in our ability to run a cottage-meeting pledge drive. I appreciated Mark’s approach in making sure the team understand not only what to do, but why we should follow the steps he advised.

Liz Bredeson, Stewardship Lead Volunteer, First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, IA

Very easy to work with

Overall, Mark is the best consultant with whom I have worked with in our congregation over the years. He is very insightful, direct and helpful. It is very easy to work with Mark and he is very efficient with his time. And, he interfaces well with congregational members and friends.

Creighton Cray, Stewardship Leader, Community UU Church of White Plains, NY

Enthusiastic thanks

Let me add my enthusiastic thanks for your very wise assistance to us. You helped us sort through some ideas and get the big picture, as well as getting some thorny details figured out. You also confirmed our basic approach to stewardship that increases our confidence and, indeed, energy going into the next campaign. We contrasted our meeting last night with the meeting two years ago and celebrated our progress.

Sue Wilson, Past President Universalist Church of West Hartford

Webinar… hanging on every word

Thank you so much. We had five members of the Board of Trustees from NWUUC – Atlanta, present in my living room for your webinar. We were hanging on every word, and we’ll be discussing your thoughts in greater detail at our upcoming board meeting, and going forward.

David Zenner, Board member, Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Sandy Springs, GA

Webinar very helpful

I found the webinar very helpful and informative. The sound quality was excellent and the slides/graphics were a real enhancement and easy to read. I would like to thank your moderator, Mark Ewert, for an excellent job.

Frank Holstein, Board member, Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing, NJ

Capital campaign much more successful

Our capital campaign was much richer and more successful from having your guidance.

Jamie Sharp, Capital Campaign volunteer UU Society of Iowa City, IA

Amazing knowledge base

As Mark promised, the visioning weekend sessions were full, busy and very energizing. We have received great feedback from those who participated and several newer community members and folks who had been involved in other efforts, emerged as true leaders and are enthusiastic about taking the results of the visioning weekend to the next step. We appreciate Mark’s amazing knowledge base and his humorous and effective leadership style!

John Lyons, President, First Religious Society in Carlisle, MA

Best training… delighted

Stewardship Consulting Testimonial
Barb Robinson

I have heard so many people say that your training was the best they’ve ever had. Others who were nervous were delighted with the opportunity to go make visits.

Barb Robinson, UU Congregation of the Quad Cities

One word… Outstanding

I would sum up the weekend with one word … outstanding! Thanks to you and the UUA for making such an excellent resource available to us here in Stow.

Roy Miller, Stewardship Chair, First Parish Church of Stow and Acton

Insights are right on

The overwhelming response has been positive to not only your small group and one-on-one meetings, but various members of the congregation have given unsolicited responses in praise of your presentation following Sunday’s service – that you are knowledgeable – and “expert”, that you come across as warm, caring and empathetic, and that your insights are/were valuable or “right on.”

Administrator, UU Church of Asheville

Stewardship culture already shifting

Stewardship Coaching Review
Rev Tim Temerson

Thanks so much for your good words and for your very good work with our congregation. I feel your visit was an enormous blessing and that no matter what the final totals of the budget drive may be, the stewardship culture of this congregation is already shifting. And we owe you an enormous of debt of gratitude for that!

Rev. Tim Temerson, UU Church of Akron, OH