Electronic books broadly available from Skinner, Beacon

Many books published by Skinner House and Beacon Press are available now as electronic books.

Skinner House has 16 books available as eBooks, through Google eBooks. Find a complete list at the UUA Bookstore website. Click on the red eBooks logo on the right side of the page. Those who buy Skinner House titles from Google will be able to read them on any eBook reader except the Kindle. The same titles will be available soon through the Amazon Kindle store as well.

Beacon publishes all new titles simultaneously in print and eBook editions and it has digitized hundreds of backlist titles. Its eBooks are available through Amazon/Kindle, B&N/Nook, Sony and many other eBook retailers. Beacon has also signed up with Google Books, which will open the door for independent booksellers to sell Beacon eBooks, says Tom Hallock, associate publisher at Beacon Press.

“We have made a special effort to digitize titles by Forrest Church, John Buehrens, and Rebecca Parker, and other writers of interest to UUs,” says Hallock. Books by Beacon authors who will attend GA this year are also available, including Margaret Regan’s The Death Of Josseline, (the first UU Common Read) and David Bacon’s Illegal People. Hallock said eBooks should account for about 4 percent of total Beacon sales this year. On individual new titles eBooks have been as much as 30 percent of sales.

LGBT Ministries office ready to help

The UUA office formerly known as the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns has a new name and new staff members.

The office is now known as LGBT Ministries and is part of the UUA’s Multicultural Growth & Witness staff group. Delfin Bautista is LGBT Ministries program coordinator and Alex Kapitan is Congregational Justice administrator within that office.

Kapitan and Bautista noted that when the office last changed its name in 1996 (for the fifth time since its founding in 1973) there was no consensus in the larger world about the order of those identity labels. But now there is. “In recent years LGBT has become the dominant acronym, and so we have decided that the UUA should follow suit and speak the language that the most people will be able to identify with,” they reported.

Bautista said, “We welcome questions about the Welcoming Congregation and Living the Welcoming Congregation programs, including ways congregations can expand these efforts beyond the congregation and into the larger community.”

The office can also respond to questions about how to provide education around LGBT issues and how to engage communities of color and people of all ages with these issues—one topic of focus in particular for the office is ministering to LGBT youth. The office can also help with creating worship services and with ways to be involved with legislative efforts around issues such as marriage equality, transgender civil rights, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Bautista and Kapitan can also offer help in creating lectures, workshops, and other presentations.

The Rev. Keith Kron, former director of the OBGLTC, is now transitions director in the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development staff group.

Email LGBT Ministries or contact staff members directly at dbautista@uua.org (202-393-2255 x15) or akapitan@uua.org (617-948-6461.

Postville immigration raid video available

Congregations studying immigration issues now have another resource. An independent film has been made about the infamous U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on a meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, on May 12, 2008. The raid resulted in nearly 400 arrests of immigrant workers. Many served five months in prison before being deported. The 96-minute film, abUSed—the Postville Raid, was filmed at Postville and in Guatemala after the raid.

The Northeast Iowa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Decorah, Iowa, is the closest UU congregation to Postville. Sue Otte, program chair at the congregation, said the fellowship helped out in the raid’s aftermath:

We were closely involved in assisting the folks impacted by this raid, and along with our Decorah Faith Coalition, we assisted nine young men released from prison on ridiculous charges of identity theft. Our fellowship is very interested in seeing that UUs see this film, especially in light of our focus as an association on immigration as a moral issue, and at General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix.

The fellowship did a three-weeks series of programs on immigration this winter.

A DVD of the film for personal use is $23. The price for faith-based communities begins at $100 depending on the size of the community and ability to pay. Learn more on the Postville Raid blog or email abusethepostvilleraid.sales at gmail.com.

Off-site GA delegate test underway

Congregational leaders who cannot attend General Assembly this June have until April 15 to sign up to participate from home as GA delegates as part of a new test to make the UUA’s annual business meeting more easily accessible.

The GA 2011 off-site trial allows delegates to watch live, streaming video of plenary (business) sessions from wherever they live or work, then queue up to speak and vote.

Applications for Off-site Delegate status can be submitted online from March 1 to April 15, 2011. Off-site delegates will need to confirm they are indeed certified delegates for their congregations, check technical requirements using an online video, participate in training and a test run prior to GA, and pay a nominal registration fee.

For information about requirements, the application process, and selection criteria, visit www.uua.org/offsitega.

The trial will include lay, ministerial, and religious educator delegates in order to reflect the whole potential delegate pool, with special care to include those who have historically been unable to attend in person.