Fair Share amount is $58

The Fair Share contribution requested from congregations for the fiscal year just started is $58 per certified member, an increase of $2. Congregations with 550 or more members have the option of contributing 4.2 percent of their budget instead.

Fair Share contributions to the Annual Program Fund enable the UUA to support congregations with programming and other resources, including books, UU World, InterConnections, lifespan faith development curricula, stewardship services, worship materials, and ministries to young adults. Contributions to the APF make up nearly half of the UUA’s undesignated funding. A PDF of a brochure explaining the Annual Program Fund is available online.

 

Small Group Ministry resources available

The Small Group Ministry Network will present an institute August 30—September 2 at Camp deBenneville Pines in the mountains above Los Angeles. The institute will focus on learning to do small group ministry and exploring its impact on congregations, building facilitator skills and creating effective sessions. Information is available on the SMG Network website, smallgroupministry.net.

Various publications are also available from the network. They include Small Group Ministry with All Ages, Spiritual Journeys: 101 Session Plans for Small Group Ministry Programs, and Small Group Ministry 2010, Celebrating Congregations. The network publishes a quarterly newsletter which is available to members. The current Summer 2011 issue includes articles on strengthening congregations through small group ministry, a profile of the SGM program at the UU Church in Eugene, Ore., and creating credos. A monthly newsletter is available online to anyone.

The network is open to small group ministry participants and leaders. Membership is $40 for individuals and $100 for congregations. The network is supported by its members.

 

Top-selling books at General Assembly 2011

Top-selling books at General Assembly 2011, by the UUA Bookstore. Many of these are being promoted by Skinner House as a useful part of congregational programming:

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, by Karen Armstrong (Ware lecturer at GA 2011)

Universalists and Unitarians in America: A People’s History, by the Rev. John Buehrens. This book, in honor of the 50th anniversary of consolidation of the Unitarians and Universalists, will be useful to book groups, in lifespan education classes, and as a historical reference.

The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands, by Margaret Regan. As we look toward General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix, this is one of the books that helps explain immigration issues. In 2011 it was recommended to congregations as a “common read.”

Darkening the Doorways: Black Trailblazers and Missed Opportunities in Unitarian Universalism, by the Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed. The story of black UUs in a predominately white faith. Useful for book groups and lifespan classes and in sermon preparation.

What’s Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West, by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Broken Buddha, book of essays by the Rev. Meg Barnhouse.

Elite: Uncovering Classism in Unitarian Universalist History, the Rev. Mark Harris. Tells the story of the privileged founders of Unitarianism and Universalism and describes how we can grow into a more inclusive faith. Discussion guide available online.

Coming Out in Faith: LGBTQ Voices in Unitarian Universalism, by the Rev. Keith Kron and Susan Gore. Testimonials about the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer UUs. Useful for Welcoming Congregation sessions and raising awareness of LGBTQ issues.

From Zip Lines to Hosaphones, Dispatches from the Search for Truth and Meaning, essays by the Rev. Jane Rzepka. Includes introductory material on Unitarian Universalism in an entertaining manner. Ideal for new member classes, gifts for Coming of Age youth or bridging young adults, and small group ministry gatherings.

House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century, by the Rev. John Buehrens and the Rev. Rebecca Ann Parker.

Skinner House resource, including discussion guides, for some of these books can be found at www.uua.org/companionresources.

New building made possible by recycling, volunteers

When the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene, Ore., went in search of a new building for its growing congregation, it wanted to make sure that its move upheld its green values. Long story short: The congregation bought a Scottish Rite building, then deconstructed the interior.

In the process it recycled 75 to 85 percent of the waste, according to Ed Zack, volunteer project manager for the congregation. That included removing and stripping wiring to resell the metals, salvaging thousands of board feet of oak flooring, finding a buyer for 140 theater seats, and dismantling a fire sprinkler system so its parts could be used by a contractor to install a new system.

The congregation estimates it saved more than a half million dollars through its recycling efforts. More than 150 of its 350 members worked on the site, including a crew that provided snacks and cooked for the volunteers and hired contractors.

The building itself was made energy-efficient with better insulation, lighting, and 43 skylights with louvers to control the building’s temperature. A more complete article with photos is at KVAL.com.

 

 

Support groups for unemployed still vital

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

Earlier this year the Rev. Ralph Mero, a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, formed a men’s group at the congregation led by his wife, the Rev. Deborah Mero, for the study of scripture. But it wasn’t long before a different issue took over the group.

Members of the group, at the Unitarian Fellowship of West Chester, Pa., began sharing not scripture passages, but stories of losing their jobs or struggling with less than ideal work situations. The stories included the litany of problems that go along with job loss—health problems, depression, stress, marital strife, foreclosures.

“Just about every week I would hear of people in our congregation who had been laid off or who were struggling to find replacement work,” says Mero. “Many of these people were over the age of 50 and job loss is especially hard on them,” he noted.

Go to the full article.

Interest growing in Navigators scout group

An alternative to Boy Scouting is growing in awareness among Unitarian Universalist congregations. Robin Bossert, a UU from New York City, brought his Navigators USA program to General Assembly in June in Charlotte, N.C., and says he had conversations with more than 50 people at his booth in the Exhibit Hall.

Bossert said there are currently nine Navigators chapters, four in New York City, and others in Binghamton, N.Y.; Durham, N.C.; Belmont, Mass.; Costa Mesa, Calif.; and Fort Collins, Colo. Many of the chapters were started by UUs. He said 60 people, in 24 states, are communicating with him about new chapters. Navigators is co-ed and nondenominational and is open to any group that does not discriminate.

Bossert led a Boy Scout troop in New York City sponsored by the Unitarian Church of All Souls, but the church terminated that relationship in 2002 because of BSA’s discrimination against boys and leaders who are openly gay. Many other UU congregations also terminated relationships with the BSA. Bossert went to work to create a new group. Last fall he published a Navigators guidebook, and that has led to a surge in interest.

UU World wrote about Navigators in March.