OWL field test sites sought

Congregations are being sought to field test the new edition of Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Grades 7-9, during this congregational year.

Although OWL contains 27 workshops, field testers do not have to commit to all workshops. The test is of new and significantly revised material only. Congregations may choose how many workshops they want to use and evaluate, and in what order they use them. The field test will end June 1, 2012.

For more information or to apply, contact fieldtest@uua.org.

Membership professionals create organization

An organization has been created to support congregational staff members who work with membership issues. The group, Unitarian Universalist Association of Membership Professionals [UUAMP], was officially created at General Assembly 2011.

The organization is open to anyone who is a paid staff member of a congregation and who works with membership issues. Marie Murton, Membership Coordinator at Fox Valley UU Fellowship, in Appleton, Wisconsin, is president.

She notes, “Membership professionals are in a unique position to help our congregations grow in many ways. Not only do we help people join the congregation, but we also help those members grow on their spiritual paths and in community.

“Though there are fewer membership professionals than most other staff positions, more and more congregations are understanding the importance of having someone dedicated to the membership role. UUAMP is an effort to make sure congregations have a place to go for membership questions and concerns.”

The website has a comprehensive list of membership resources, including information about workshops, webinars,  how to welcome and integrate new people, and how to create a membership professional position.Membership also includes access to an email list, Mem-Pros and other opportunities to problem-solve with other membership professionals. An annual membership is $40.

Immigration resources program, Cooking Together, created

Congregations are being invited to share their stories about how they are engaging in immigration-related social justice issues this year and how they are preparing for General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix, on a new UUA blog, Cooking Together.

On a new, related web page, Immigration Justice, congregations can also find immigration resources, including ways to include immigration topics in worship and religious education, information about state and federal immigration policies, and ways to organize and carry out actions in support of immigration rights.

Current Cooking Together blog posts include a description of a program of the UU Church of Boulder, Colo., that invites people to develop spiritual disciplines aimed at increasing levels of compassion, and an essay by Asha Arora, the GA 2012 Youth Caucus junior dean from the UU Congregation of Phoenix, talking about GA 2012.

The Cooking Together program was created by representatives of five UUA staff groups led by Gail Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Adult Programs director. She said congregations are encouraged to share not only their stories about their immigration work, but also any resources they develop that would be useful to other congregations.

‘Acts of Faith’ discussion guide ready

The discussion guide for Acts of Faith, the 2011-12 “Common Read” of the Unitarian Universalist Association, is available now from the Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group as part of its online Tapestry of Faith resources.

In Acts of Faith, author Eboo Patel shares his faith journey as an American Muslim. He discusses how he was called to found the Interfaith Youth Core. Acts of Faith explores the appeal of religious fundamentalism to young people, noting that their spiritual hunger is tied to their desire to make a mark on the world. He encourages support of young people, helping them ground themselves in a faith that fuels their passions and inspires them to work across faiths to create a better world.

The discussion guide, available free online, is suitable for youth, young adult, campus, adult, and cross-generational Common Read groups. It offers materials for a single ninety-minute session or for three ninety-minute sessions, each expandable to two hours. It also provides the option of splitting the single ninety-minute session into two shorter sessions for those congregations that want to use it in a regular Sunday morning forum or discussion group.

Contact Gail Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Adult Programs director, for more information. Acts of Faith, published by Beacon Press, is available through the UUA bookstore with discounts for multiple copies.

Greeter resource on multiculturalism

Multicultural Welcome: A Resource for Greeters in UU Congregations, is a 12-page document created by the UUA’s Multicultural Growth and Witness staff group to help congregational greeters respond well to every person who comes through the door on Sunday morning.

This greeter resource grew out of a workshop at General Assembly 2010 called Multicultural Membership Journey, which explored what it means to welcome people of various identities.

Alex Kapitan, the staff group’s Congregational Justice administrator, says, “This brand new, brief training resource for greeters builds awareness around how our congregations can be fully and truly welcoming, explores how to integrate membership with our lived faith and social justice work, and offers strategies for developing competencies of inclusion and practicing your welcome.”

The resource invites greeters to use role play to think about what it would be like to be welcoming to someone who is blind, uses a wheelchair, has a strong foreign accent, didn’t complete high school or go to college, wears a cross, or has an ambiguous gender identity.

General advice: Greet everyone, including people who are not new (demonstrating care for everyone). Ask open-ended questions. Listen without interrupting. Let people tell you about their theology rather than you anticipating it. Allow them to not answer your questions if they choose.

The resource was developed by Janice Marie Johnson, the Rev. Alicia Forde, Susanna Whitman, and India McKnight. It is available free online.