Letter: Holston Valley worship includes children

To the editor:

The congregation of Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, serving Gray, Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, and surrounding areas in northeast Tennessee, voted in its annual meeting to continue Expanded Sundays, the experiment it began last year around including children in the worship hour. There is paid child care for those 2nd grade and below if they choose to not stay during the service.

We are excited about this step. We include kids in all parts of the service. A middle school student just shared a marvelous and challenging This I Believe. Others have done Greeting and Welcoming functions, presented readings, played music, danced and sang with the choir. Religious education is 9:30-10:30 and is growing–especially the adult RE since parents have more freedom with their children involved in class at the same time.

This congregation has high hopes for its children and enjoys their presence and participation in worship. HVUUC’s social justice project this year is Hunger in Our Neighborhood. Children and adults bring cans of food to a tub in the front of the sanctuary during the first hymn. More experiential elements have been added to the service, including ritual singing, This I Believe, and more hymns from the teal hymnal that communicate the sermon’s message in various ways. I hone the sermons to 15 minutes without changing content, and I reference the Lesson for All Ages to tie the two together.  I’m sure the sermon goes over the heads of some, but parents do report their kids making references to what happens in the service.

—the Rev. Jacqueline Luck, Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Editor’s note: Some other congregations that include children in a substantial portion of worship services are Emerson UU Chapel in Ellisville, Mo., and the UU Church of Ogden, Utah.

Sexual health study guide updated

The study guide, A Time to Build: Creating Sexually Healthy Faith Communities, has been updated by the Religious Institute. The free guide, available online, outlines the building blocks of a sexually healthy faith community.

The guide focuses on sexually healthy religious professionals, incorporating sexuality issues into worship and pastoral care, creating safe congregations policies, and learning how to advocate for sexuality issues in the larger community. The guide also includes checklists for congregations to assess their own programs and policies.

Suburban congregation bought downtown church for second service

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

The 9 and 11 a.m. services at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pa., are 4.3 miles apart. At 9 a.m. part of the congregation gathers at the church’s longtime suburban location on Clover Lane, tucked in between a housing tract and two hotels. Then at 11 a.m. a larger part of the congregation gathers for worship at a big, old, red brick church building on Market Street near downtown Harrisburg. The congregation bought the building three years ago to relieve overcrowding at its suburban building. At a price of $111,000 plus $340,000 for renovations, it was a better deal than the congregation’s other prospect—raising six to eight million for a new building.

In May the congregation completed nine months of holding weekly services in both buildings—and nine months of deep engagement with its new neighborhood. In addition to the overcrowding issue, a desire to do more social justice work was a big reason for buying the building, said the Rev. Howard Dana, the church’s senior minister.

Go to the full article.

New Skinner House publications useful in congregations

Here are some new Skinner House publications that might be useful in your congregation:

Reaching for the Sun: Meditations by the Rev. Angela Herrera. This is the UUA’s most recent meditation manual. It is $8, with discounts for volume purchases.

• The Welcome Wallet Card Variety Pack features five inspirational and informational quotes about Unitarian Universalism. Packs of 100 cards are $6. Read the text of the quotes here.

Las Voces del Camino, the UUA’s Spanish-language hymnal has been published in a large print edition for use by pianists and individuals who have difficulty with standard print. Cost is $25.

• Available in mid-June will be Sources of Our Faith: Inspirational Readings, edited by the Rev. Kathleen Rolenz. Readings are taken from sources including the Qur’an, Margaret Fuller, Rumi, and Rebecca Parker.

UUA mobile app now available

The first Unitarian Universalist Association mobile app is now available. Called Illuminations, the app is free from the iTunes App Store online.

Currently the app is only available for iPhones, iPads, and the iPod Touch, but a version of the app for Android phones is expected to be available by June 20. The app provides more than 350 daily inspirational quotes, which can also be used to open and close meetings and for worship readings. The app also lists and describes the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism and it has five different chalices which can be “lit” and then extinguished by blowing on the phone.

Larry Stritof, Information Technology Systems analyst for the UUA and one of the developers of the app, said Illuminations works offline and does not require an internet connection unless the sharing feature is used.

He said more functions will likely be developed for it. More information can be found on the Illuminations Facebook page. Email app.support at uua.org with questions.

“I’m hoping to see folks use the app at GA,” said Stritof, “including holding up the lit chalices during witness events.”

Watch General Assembly 2012 live at home

Around fifteen events of General Assembly 2012, to be held in Phoenix in June 20-24, will be live-streamed—made available for viewing by Unitarian Universalists at home as each event happens. These will include opening and closing ceremonies, worship and business sessions, the Ware Lecture by Maria Hinojosa, and a forum for candidates for UUA moderator. A moderator will be elected at GA 2013.

Congregations across the country are invited to gather to watch GA coverage as it happens, including worship. Last year several congregations watched—and participated in—the GA Sunday worship in place of locally organized worship.

A list of events to be live-streamed is on UUA.org. Instructions and technical notes on how to receive these live-streams are also there. Read that information before determining if you can use a GA worship in place of a locally-organized worship.

Margy Levine Young, Web Team Manager for the UUA’s Information Technology Services, encourages congregations to test their systems in advance if they want to watch GA events live. She suggests using a video from GA 2011, available on UUA.org as a test. Congregations should also have a backup plan, she notes, in case the technology on either end fails. If you have questions before GA, write to web@uua.org.

If it’s not convenient for you to watch events live, you can go to UUA.org after an event and watch it anytime. The full video of a GA event will be posted online anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours after an event.

Young said the programming will also be useful to individual UUs and leadership groups. “We hope that groups of leaders who cannot attend GA will find it useful to gather during the assembly to watch some of this programming so they can learn along with the rest of us.”

The Hub, a site for young adults on Facebook

UU young adults have a new place to connect on Facebook. The Hub: Young Adult UUs includes  a map where participants can add campus ministry groups and other organizations. It also includes a calendar that young adults can add events to.

The Hub describes itself this way: “Young adult UU’s are a big, diverse group, spanning ages 18-35. In fact, maybe the only thing that unites us is that we are UU’s going through transitions and discernment. That’s why The Hub embraces a diverse vision of young adult ministry that includes religious communities for college students, young families, working young adults, spiritual seekers and young religious professionals, just to name a few.”

The Hub, which also includes items from the Young Adult blog Blue Boat,  is hosted by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the UUA.

Carey McDonald, Youth and Young Adult Ministries director, noted, “A lot of young adults who are involved in congregations may feel isolated from other young adults. The Hub can connect them and give them ideas about what others are doing. It’s all about connecting people who are fairly spread out.”


Bridging keeps younger UUs connected

Now is a good time for directors of religious education, youth advisers, and other congregational leaders to encourage high school graduates to fill out a Bridge Connections Form. Having this information before young adults head off to college, jobs, or the military allows the UUA’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries to stay in connection with them. The form can be filled out online, or the office can mail forms to congregations that request them.

This fall the office will also send that information to congregations and campus ministry groups in communities where the young adults take up the next phase of their lives. They’ll get invited to local events, and they’ll have local UUs to reach out to if they need them.

Read the Youth and Young Adult office’s Top Ten Tips for Supporting Newly Bridged Young Adults for more ideas on how to welcome and/or maintain connections with post-bridging young adults.


UUA recommended salaries posted for 2012–2013

The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Office of Church Staff Finances has posted the 2012–2013 UUA Recommended Salaries for congregational staff and newly revised 2012 Geographic Indices. The UUA Salary Recommendations, effective for congregational years beginning July 1, 2012, have been approved by the UUA Compensation, Benefits, and Pension Committee. They were developed through a process that included a comparable wage analysis using wage data obtained from three national sources—the most prominent of which is the Economic Research Institute (ERI).

ERI uses census, federal wage surveys, and other wage data for their database. The UUA Salary Recommendations are heavily influenced by wages paid in the general economy. For more information contact the Office of Church Staff Finances.