Youth group of two just as worthy as 18

Tandi Rogers Koerger, program specialist for the UUA’s Pacific Northwest District, writes on her blog, “Putting Religious Education in its Place,” about the year when there were only two youth in her congregation’s youth group. The previous year there had been 18, but 16 graduated.

In a piece titled “Cheese Fries,” she says “Our congregation made a bold decision. They funded the two-member youth group as if they were the rowdy 18.” Koerger said she and the youth hung out that year, doing things like debating the UU appropriateness of current musical lyrics, and eating cheese fries at Denny’s.

Koerger says both youth are now in their 20s.

“They look back at our youth group year with just the three of us and are grateful that the congregation saw them as legitimate and worthy of the effort. Religious education is implicit in the decisions we make as a congregation, including fiscal decisions. Religious education is nestled in those leaps of faith and small actions that say, ‘We see you. We need you. You are worthy.’”

Read more about congregations on uuworld.org

InterConnections is one of many sources of information for leaders of Unitarian Universalist congregations. Another key one is UU World’s online edition. Here are several articles relating to congregational life that have appeared on uuworld.org over the last few months.

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Guide to youth group report available

Congregations interested in nurturing youth groups are invited to use a new guide that will help them explore the UUA’s Youth Ministry Working Group Report.

The Youth Ministry Working Group was established in 2008 and charged with recommending a framework for youth ministry in congregations and across the Association. The Working Group report is the culmination of a multiyear process involving thousands of UUs at every level of the Association.

The 24-page report offers both specific suggestions and a call for a broad culture change in congregations in order to nurture youth ministry. Said Erik Kesting, the UUA’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries director, “The goal is for congregations to discuss the report and recommendations and make some changes in their youth programs and/or adopt new programs.”

General Assembly registration fees increase May 1

Registration fees for attending General Assembly, June 23–27 in Minneapolis, go up on May 1. Before that, adult registration is $310 and youth registration is $185. Costs increase to $355 and $210, respectively, as of May 1.

The 88-member Bismarck-Mandan UU Fellowship and Church, Bismarck, North Dakota, is sending 14 people to GA. The congregation is paying full registration fees for all of them.

President Janis Cheney said the congregation is growing and leaders recognized that the Minneapolis GA, just a few hours down I-94, presented a not-to-be-missed opportunity to expose members to a large gathering of UUs and to bring home information about welcoming, leadership, and other topics.

Members who had been to previous GAs held information sessions after church. Those who indicated interest were asked to attend one or two pre-GA meetings to review the agenda and also participate in post-GA sessions including one or more Sunday service presentations.

“Our board considers this an unparalleled opportunity for making connections and growing in understanding of our faith tradition,” said Cheney. “We hope it will be an energizing and inspiring experience that will translate into greater engagement and development for those who attend and through them, for our entire congregation.”

CLF will help you welcome seekers

Congregations can get help in presenting themselves to seekers through a new service provided by the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

For $250 the CLF will prepare a five-session “Welcome In” online class explaining Unitarian Universalism, how the congregation works, UU spirituality, the larger world of Unitarian Universalism, and the history of Unitarian Universalism and the congregation.

The CLF will create the class using text, photos, and video specific to the congregation, host the class on its server, provide technical support for three months, and offer resources for promoting the class.

Learn more and view a sample online class here. Contact the Rev. Lynn Ungar, CLF’s minister for Lifespan Learning, at lungar@uua.org.

Music ministry resources at WorshipWeb

InterConnections articles published in recent years about music ministry have been collected at the UUA’s online WorshipWeb. The information includes articles about certifying, supporting, and paying music directors, and building and sustaining music programs.

WorshipWeb is a growing collection of resources about the many facets of worship, including music, technology, and lay leadership, plus readings, sermons, and chalice lightings.

Other music resources at WorshipWeb include a listing of songbooks and hymnals used by congregations, music CDs recorded by congregations, and links to organizations like the UU Musicians Network and a database of new music by UU composers.

‘Faith and Web’ blog guides web designers

Looking to improve your congregational website? Check out Faith and Web, the blog of Anna Belle Leiserson of the First UU Church of Nashville, Tenn. She is a professional web coordinator and says she is committed to “web standards, accessibility, handsome design, elegant code, and deep dark chocolate.”

She writes about all types of web issues. A recent article explains how to “Launch a Church Email Newsletter in 9 Simple Steps.” Other articles: “Top 10 Tips for Church Blogging,” “Content Audits Are a Beautiful Thing,” and “Finding Stock Art for Your Website.”

April 20th deadline for youth GA scholarships

April 20, 2010, is the deadline to apply for scholarships for youth and young adults to attend General Assembly this June in Minneapolis. The UUA will pay the GA registration fee and up to $500 of other expenses for applicants who can demonstrate need.

Find out more here or by emailing youth@uua.org, youngadults@uua.org, or calling 617-948-4350.

UU World accepting intern applications

Do you know a young person who is interested in Unitarian Universalism and journalism? UU World is now accepting applications for its summer internship program in Boston. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience working on both print and online publications at UUA headquarters.

Ideally a summer intern would be available to start in mid to late May, but dates and hours are negotiable. Read more at uuworld.org or email Assistant Editor Sonja L. Cohen for more information.

Leadership tools come in many forms

From April’s InterConnections feature story, now online at UUA.org:

Leadership development happens in many ways in our congregations. A book makes us think in a new way. A speaker at a workshop gives us an “Aha!” moment. We watch someone flawlessly lead a meeting or execute a project. We’re talked into taking on a task that’s different from anything we’ve done before.

Since most of us can use all of the help we can get in honing our leadership skills, InterConnections asked several staff members of UUA districts to tell us about their favorite leadership development tools. Not all will be right for you, but we hope some will. And sometimes it’s simply useful to see what tools others find helpful.

Go to the full article.