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Pacific Unitarian Church, Rancho Pales Verdes, CA: Breakthrough Congregation

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The assembly was treated to a 12-minute video produced by the second of four "Breakthrough Congregations" to be recognized at this General Assembly. The voice of Rev. John Morehouse told us that "Pacific Unitarian is located on a hilltop in Rancho Pales Verdes, CA....just a short drive from LA’s famed beach cities in one direction, and our nation’s busiest port in the other."

Diane Hayden, president of the congregation, said that as the congregation looked at what it would have to do to grow and mature, "We agreed that we would have to move beyond our former mentality of scarcity and invest in new facilities, programs, and personnel, and…we needed to become a fair compensation congregation." They hired an interim minister, Rev. Jim Grant, who encouraged them to adopt a Covenant of Good Relations, which helped them to build open and honest communications.

Pacific Unitarian called Rev. John Morehouse in 2005 Membership began to grow, as did the average pledge and the level of volunteerism. The congregation established an "Enhancing Our Ministries Fund" to which people gave in addition to their pledges, and with which they hired a part time pastoral care director, and then a director of membership. Once the congregation’s ministry of caring for one another was "well in hand," they educated the congregation about the importance of not only sustaining themselves but to help sustain the greater community as well. They decided to build up to giving away 10 percent of their budget within five years, and are close to succeeding in this goal. Recently, one of the church members left a bequest of about $75,000, which Pacific Unitarian pledged to their partner church in New Orleans. They are also proud of the "intergenerational nature" of their congregation, their revitalized Welcoming Congregation program and their Addiction and Recovery Ministry.

The audience gave an enthusiastic round of applause to this congregation as their presentation concluded.

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Last updated on Monday, September 5, 2011.

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