About the Author
Don Skinner
Don Skinner is editor of InterConnections and a member of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

Ministerial mentoring survey participants sought

Three groups focused on ministerial development are inviting all members of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association to complete a brief survey, which is designed to improve the chances for successful ministries, especially for members of historically marginalized communities, and bolster the culture of ministerial mentoring.

The seven-question survey about mentoring can be found here. It is sponsored by the UUA’s Professional Development and Credentialing Offices; the UUMA’s Committee on Ministry for Antiracism, Antioppression, and Multiculturalism; and the UUA’s Diversity of Ministry Team. Information about the UUA’s Diversity of Ministry Initiative is here.

February 1 petition deadline for UUA office-seekers

The Nominating Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association has adopted a slate of candidates for positions ranging from Board of Trustees to the Commission on Social Witness. The slate can be found here.

Beyond those nominees, applications are being taken until February 1 from people who wish to run by petition for any of these positions, plus those of moderator and president of the UUA. To run by petition a candidate must:

  • Be a voting member of a UU congregation
  • Secure signatures of at least 50 members of certified UU congregations with no more than 10 from any single congregation
  • File the requisite papers with the UUA board secretary by February 1. Contact Nancy Lawrence with questions: administration@uua.org or 617-948-4303.

Membership certification deadline is February 1

Congregations are required to certify their membership numbers with the Unitarian Universalist Association by Friday, February 1 at 5 p.m. Pacific time. The membership number a congregation certifies is the basis for determining the number of voting delegates for the congregation at General Assembly 2013 and for calculating the congregation’s Annual Program Fund Fair Share contribution to the UUA.

Certification can be accomplished online by logging into your congregation’s Data Services account with your congregation’s four-digit identification number and a password.

Complete information about this process is here. If your congregation prefers to certify with a paper form and postal mail, contact Nick Rafael in the UUA’s Information Technology Services office as soon as possible: 617-948-4654 or nrafeal@uua.org.

Changes to UUA’s youth ministry programs explained

Youth ministry programs within Unitarian Universalism have undergone many changes in the past few years, with some parts disappearing and others being created. If you’d like to get up to date on how they are currently structured and how they can be useful to your congregation, or simply get an idea of what ministry to youth encompasses, there’s a new tool to help you do that.

All of the youth programs are presented as part of a “Prezi” called The Big Picture of Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry. A Prezi is a single interactive screen of comprehensive information showing the various youth ministry elements and how they are related. A more traditional way of showing such information would be in a PowerPoint presentation with multiple slides. With a Prezi, users can click on the various parts for more information.

Check out The Big Picture of Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry on the website of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. The information includes names of many books currently used in youth ministry. Most are available through the UUA Bookstore.

The Big Picture of Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry is one of many items featured on Blue Boat, the blog of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

Ministerial Fellowship Committee solicits feedback

The Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association is beginning a review of the competencies required of candidates seeking fellowship as UU ministers. This review follows several years of study by the UUA Board of Trustees and the UUA administration as part of the Excellence in Ministry initiative begun by the Board.

In the first stage of the review the MFC will be seeking the advice of the many parties and organizations that have a stake in ministerial excellence. They include the UUA Board, the administration, professional ministry organizations, seminaries, candidates themselves, and various other UU groups. The Rev. Wayne Arnason, chair of the MFC, also invites comments from individual members of congregations about areas of ministerial competency that are important to them. The MFC can be reached at mfccoordinator@uua.org.

Season’s greetings from InterConnections. Our offices will be closed for the holidays December 24 to January 2. The InterConnections TipSheet will return on January 4. See you next year!

Resources for dealing with aftermath of Newtown shooting

To help Unitarian Universalists and their communities in the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., on December 14, the Unitarian Universalist Association has collected a variety of pastoral resources.

These resources include a Tapestry of Faith workshop on Making Meaning after Disaster, selected meditations and readings, several blog posts and articles, tips and fact sheets, a video Q&A, and book recommendations. Get the full list of resources from UUA.org.

CLF offers online worship, other services

The Church of the Larger Fellowship presents an online worship service three times a week, not only for the benefit of its members but also for members of other congregations who can’t make it to church because of distance, illness, disability, or other reasons. The services are Sundays at 8 p.m. and Mondays at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. All times are Eastern. Go to questformeaning.org and click on the Live Worship link at the top of the page.

The CLF is also having a 20 percent off sale through December on all of its pewter and enamel pendants and lapel pins. Go to questformeaning.org/page/sale for a flyer describing the sale.

The CLF offers ways to connect with others, including joining a small group online, meeting other members locally, and participating in classes and in social justice work.

Being open to other points of view

The Rev. Renee Ruchotzke has posted an article on the UUA blog Growing Vital Leaders, about the dangers of running congregations from within a bubble. A bubble happens, she notes, when leaders aren’t receptive to ideas from others or simply don’t take the time to look beyond their own congregation for solutions.

Ruchotzke says, “Congregational leaders often don’t think to look beyond their congregation’s walls for ideas or answers. They may believe that their own congregation is unique in its situation, but there is likely a congregation down the road (or in another district) that has similar challenges. Part of the goal of cluster-building and regionalization is to help congregations connect to one another and access the wisdom of the wider UU movement.”

The full article is here.

Update storm precautions as weather patterns change

The recent storm damage along the East Coast is an unfortunate reminder that we seem to have entered a period of “superstorms.” Congregations would be well-served by updating their storm preparation procedures, including a review of their insurance policies.

The following article from the InterConnections archive outlines practices that are useful in advance of, during, and following a storm. They include keeping the institution’s insurance policy some place other than the congregation’s building, checking the limits on your policies, and considering flood insurance, since areas are being flooded that haven’t been before. Read the full article,  With Wilder Weather, Check Your Insurance, for more information.

Organizing caring committees for small congregations

Small congregations often struggle to develop an effective caring committee or caring group. There’s the usual problem of too few volunteers, for one thing. But some congregations have found ways to respond to caring without developing the large caring structures that bigger congregations might have.

Here are several articles from InterConnections that look at the caring needs of smaller congregations and how to address them:

Beyond Casseroles: Caring Committees That Work

A Three-Person Membership Committee for Small Congregations

Membership Job Description (including Caring Committee functions)

‘Remembership’ Calls Help Keep Track of Members

Among the tips offered in these articles: Consider the entire congregation part of the caring team. Let people know you’ll be calling on them when a need arises. Remember that most people are generally happy to do a specific caring task, such as delivering a meal or giving a ride, if asked. We probably don’t ask people to do things for others enough. This way even if there is only one person interested in being “on” a caring committee, that person can keep track of caring needs and then call on others to do the actual caring tasks. This works best if that person is skilled at delegating.